Greek coinage dates back to 600BC. The coinage can be mainly divided into three periods, namely the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic. The Hellenistic period refers to the period between the fall of Alexander The Great in 323BC and Greece's capture by Rome in 146BC. The Archaic period began when the coins were first introduced in the Ancient Greece. Then came the Classical period which lasted till the conquests of Alexander The Great. History of Greek coins has a dominance of silver coins shaped in iron molds. A lot of these coins have been seen across the jurisdiction, which implies their usage in the inter-city trade.
The Archaic age saw amateurish coins of imperfect craftsmanship. Gradually, the coins changed their shapes from lumps of metal to flat discs. To denote their origin, the ancient coins were stamped with a symbol of an animal or gods or goddesses of the issuing city. For example, the coins from Athens had a symbol of owl imprinted on them.
The Classical period began in 330BC. Aesthetically, the coins from this period improved by leaps and bounds. Every large city minted its own gold and silver coins. For identification, coins bore an emblem of the city's patron god or goddess or a legendary hero on one side and a symbol of the city on the other side. In the later stages of this period, the Greek coins bore inscriptions of the issuing city's name. Rich cities like Sicily made the finest coins in this period. Among the numismatists, the coins made by Syracuse are regarded as exquisite.
By the start of the Hellenistic age, the Greek influence was felt across continents. The Greeks had made kingdoms in Iran, Egypt, and Syria. As the new kingdoms were bigger in size, they minted their own coins. Due to the mass-production of these gold coins, they lacked aesthetic delicacy. Hellenistic coins have been characterized by the symbols of the kings and inscriptions of their names. The trend of having pictures of kings on the coins continued for a long time.
Lack of technology was the reason for handmade coins. First the metal, gold or silver was heated and placed between two blocks. The top block, stuck like a hammer, to give the molten metal a disc like shape. The hammer also printed the symbols on the coins.
Over the ages, collecting ancient Greek Coins has been a rage among the numismatists. These rare coins are supremely expensive and are now found in museums only. The National Numismatist Museum, Athens, has an excellent collection. Even today, such coins are being found in Middle east and Europe. The exact centering of images, sharp edges, artistic inscriptions, and the development of these coins through the ages, is a glimpse of Greek art and its perfection, for modern-day connoisseurs.