First large scale minting of coins in Europe: Aegina

Aegina, 457-431 BCE, AR stater; 18mm, 12.34 grams
Obv: land tortoise with segmented shell.
Rev: large incuse square, skew design.
reference - Sear 2600
ex - CNG; ex - Ephesus Coins
Aegina staters are compact and thick. The have the feel of an early coin. This one is a bit off center as if the die was struck a glancing blow causing metal to flow to the unstruck side. That side is much thicker than the struck end and can be seen in some of the images below. You can also get an idea of the metal flow around the turtle in some of the close ups. Aegina was a major port and power just prior to Athens' RISE. Barclay Head gives the date for first minting of Aegina coins at 700 BC, but he obviously was a little early as the accepted date now tend to be about 600. Aegina lies in the Saronic gulf only 15 km south of Piraeus the port of Athens so competition was inevitable. The Sea Turtle was used in various forms for almost 150 years until its conquest by Athens in the middle of the 5th century BCE. When rule was returned to the island by Lysander around 400 BCE the land tortoise, as on this coin, was featured - as if the islanders were resolved to not being a major maritime power.


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