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Greek Currency

My Greek collection of currency .......

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Coins were first issued in Greece during the sixth century BC. Greek coins were based upon the system of 1 silver drachm = 6 silver obols with larger coins simply being multiples of the drachm, i.e. the tetradrachm was equal to 4 drachms. Under the Roman Empire, 1 gold aureus = 25 silver denarii = 400 copper asses = 1600 copper quadrantes. However, the currency was gradually debased until it was reformed under Diocletian (284-305). Under the Byzantine Empire, 1 Gold Solidus = 24 Siliqua = 180 Nummus = 7200 Solidus.

Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire from around 1428 until 1822 when Greece began its struggle for independence which it gained in 1829/1832. Greece was a Kingdom until 1924, a republic from 1924 until 1935, a kingdom from 1935 until 1973 (thought here was a military coup in 1967) when it once again became a republic.

In 1912, Greece occupied the Aegean Islands (Chios, Icaria, Lemnos, Myteline and Samos), which were incorporated as New Greece and became part of Greece in 1923. Information on Crete, the Aegean Islands and the Ionian Islands is provided below. Greece was occupied by Germany from April 6, 1941 until October 13, 1944. Crete, the Ionian Islands, and Samos obtained some form of sovereignty from the Ottoman Empire at various points in time before being incorporated into Greece. The Dodecanese Islands were under Italian rule from 1912 to 1945, then briefly occupied by the British before becoming part of Greece in 1947.

Ottoman Empire Piastres/Grossi (XOTP) were used in Greece until 1828, except for Greek islands belonging to Venice where Venetian coins were used. The Piastre was divisible into 40 Paras or 120 Aspers. After gaining independence, Greece introduced the Phoenix (GRP) divided into 100 Lepta and equal to 1/6 Piastre or 1 French Franc. On February 8, 1833, the Silver Drachma (GRS) replaced the Phoenix at par. Greece joined the Union Latine (XULD) on September 26, 1868 and remained a member until 1885 when it suspended the gold standard and left the Union Latine. The coins of all other members of the Union Latine were legal tender in Greece while it was a member. The Phoenix was and the Drachma is divisible into 100 Lepta. Greece left the Gold Standard on April 26, 1932.

Greece suffered hyperinflation under German occupation, and a new Drachma (GRN) was introduced on November 11, 1944 with 1 New Drachma equal to 50 Billion Old Drachmai. During the war, the Markos partisans issued banknotes denominated in okas of wheat with 1 Oka = 2.82 pounds of wheat.

Greece continued to suffer inflation, and a newer Drachma (GRD) was introduced on May 1, 1954 with 1 New Drachma equal to 1000 Old Drachmai. Banknotes were issued by the National Bank of Greece between 1841 and 1928, and the Bank of Greece from 1928 until 2002. The government issued small denomination notes.

The Euro replaced the Drachma on January 1, 2001 with 1 Euro equal to 340.75 Drachmai. Euro (EUR) Coins and banknotes, issued by the European Central Bank, began circulating on January 1, 2002, and the Drachma ceased to be legal tender on February 28, 2002.

Crete formed a separate state under the Ottoman Empire on March 20, 1898 as a result of an uprising and dispute between Greece and Turkey. Crete was occupied by the British, French, Italians and Russians during this period. Crete was was incorporated into Greece on May 30, 1913. Crete had used the Ottoman Empire Lira (XOTL) while part of the Ottoman Empire, and used the Crete Drachma (GKD), at par with the Greek Drachma, between 1898 and 1913.

The Aegean Islands (Rhodes and the 12 Dodecanese Islands (Kalimnos, Khalki, Kasos, Kos, Leros, Lisso, Nisiros, Patmos, Tilos, Karpathos, Simi and Asitpalaia)) were part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912 when they were occupied by Italy. The islands stayed under Italian control until 1943 when Germany occupied all the islands except Rhodes. The British occupied the islands in 1945 and in 1947 they became part of Greece. Ottoman Empire Lira (XOTG) circulated in the Aegean Islands while they were part of the Ottoman Empire. Italian Lira (ITL) circulated while the Italian Aegean Islands under Italian occupation, but the Cassa Mediterranea di Credito per la Grecia issued Drachma (GRS) banknotes between 1941 and 1944. German Reichsmarks were used, in the form of Darlehnkassenschein (XDEK) and Auxiliary payment certificates for the military under German occupation. The Greek New Drachma (GRN) was introduced when the islands became part of Greece in 1947.

The seven Ionian Islands were ruled alternately by Venice, France and Russia until they became a British protectorate in 1815. They were returned to Greece in 1864. The islands were also occupied by Italy between 1941 and 1943.

This note is valued at 50 Drachmai and dated 1939. The note has a uniform color of green. The obverse features a bust of Heslod, an ancient Greek poet. The reverse fatures a 'Frieze', an architectural term meaning the wide central section which is part of the molding near the top of a building.

  • Krause# Pick-107a
50 Drachmai 1939 obverse P-107a 50 Drachmai 1939 reverse P-107a  
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 500 Thousand Drachmai dated 1944. The note is black on dull violet-brown underprint. The obverse features the head of Zeus. The reverse is black on blue-green and pale olive green underprint, and depicts ears of wheat behind the denomination. Serial number with prefix letters.

  • Krause# Pick-126a

Note donated by De Orc

Greece 500 Thousand Drachmai 1944 obverse P-126a Greece 500 Thousand Drachmai 1944 reverse P-126a
Obverse Reverse

This 5 Million Drachmai note is dated 1944. The note is black on dark brown underprint. The obverse features Arethusa on dekadrachm of Syracuse to the left.The reverse is dDark brown and gray and denotes the denomination. Serial number with suffix letters.

  • Krause# Pick-128b

Note donated by De Orc

Greece 5 Million Drachmai 1944 obverse P-128b Greece 5 Million Drachmai 1944 reverse P-128b
Obverse Reverse

Here is a 1964 dated 50 Drachmai note. This note is blue on multicolor underprint. The obverse shows a statue of Arethusa with a galley ship at the bottom. The reverse shows a shipyard vingette.

  • Krause# Pick-195a
50 Drachmai 1964 obverse P-195a 50 Drachmai 1964 reverse P-195a
Obverse Reverse


  • Krause# Pick-
Obverse Reverse

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