Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Ancient Greek Coin

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Obverse of Ancient Greek silver coin
Obverse side of Silver Phoenicia Aradus, 4th C BCE, silver, Accession #1937.0483.000005

At the beginning of this year, I came across an article in the Virginian Pilot that discussed a coin collection held at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, NC. All of the coins, 55 in total, were found on the beaches of the Outer Banks by a couple who visited the barrier islands starting around 1940. Impressively, some of the coins are over 2,000 years old and come from Ancient Greece and Rome. My mind raced – I immediately wondered if our own museum held similar coins.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. We have more than a few coins from the ancient world, some of which are in excellent condition like the silver piece above. On this coin that is well over 2300 years old, we see a floating galley on the reverse and a curious figure on the obverse. Some records of similar coins from the Phoenician city of Arados label their male figure as Poseidon, or sometimes Zeus, but these are Greek deities.   Read more


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As a little kid, I gained an interest in coin collecting from my father, who has been collecting since he was a teenager.  One of my uncles has also had a big hand in this passion as he has also been collecting since he was a kid.  These days I mostly collect coins from countries I visit, which is harder with so many countries in Europe switching to the Euro.  This is why I was thrilled to realize that we have quite a nice collection of coins/medallions/etc. here.

These first two photos show an 1 Maravedis coin, ca 1558-1576, from Cuenca, Spain.  On one side is a crowned monogram for King Philip II.  On the other is the raised image of a castle  with towers and the letter “C”.  It looks like there might be a chalice to the left of the castle, but it is difficult to tell.   Read more