Ancient Greece: Apollonia, Silver Drachm with Medusa Boxed Coin Collection

The story: In Greek mythology, a gorgon was one of the three monstrous sisters, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa.  They were daughters of Ceto and Phorcus.  Medusa was the only mortal one.  The sister’s hair was a cluster of writhing snakes, and their faces were so hideous that all who saw them were turned to stone.  They were much represented in Greek art forms, and often depicted on Greek coinage.  One such coin is the Apollonia Pontika silver drachm. The drachms feature a visually striking image of a Medusa head, with fierce gaze and tongue sticking out. Medusa's image was regarded as powerful and lucky.  It was intended to ward off evil, and protect and comfort friends. Minted nearly two and a half thousand years ago this coin was designed to advertise its town of origin, Apollonia Pontika on the Black Sea.

Among the most interesting and controversial Medusa coins are Apollonia Pontika drachms, minted in the Greek colony of Apollonia Pontika, which was situated in Thrace along the Black Sea.  The gorgon drachms of Apollonia are dated to the later 5th and 4th century BC.  The obverse of these coins features a facing head of Medusa in classic Attic style, a long protruding tongue, and snakes for hair.  On the coin’s reverse is an anchor, which flukes up, a crayfish (used by Greeks for naming a city symbol on coins), and the letter “A” (for the mintmark).  The anchor and the crayfish attest to the city’s reliance on maritime commerce for its economy, and the anchor depicted on these coins is actually one of the first anchors of modern design rendered in Greek art.

Data: Obverse: Facing gorgon Reverse: Upright anchor, the letter A, and a crayfish Diameter: 13-14.9 mm Weight: 2.6-2.8 grams Box measures: 3.87” X 3.87” X 1.25”