In the second half of the 6th century the practice of coinage spread from its origins in Asia Minor to the west. In all likelihood the first city in Europe issuing coins was Aigina. Not long after followed other mints in Athens, Corinth, Chalkis and Eretria. At first the Aiginetic standard was very popular (based on a silver didrachm-stater of about 12 grams) and was later superseded by the Attic standard (with a didrachm of 8,5 grams and later a tetradrachm of 17 grams).
With the ascendancy of Athens after the defeat of the invading Persians in 479 BC, Attic coins were in much use. The style of the coins evolved from the rather stiff Archaic style to the more elegant Classical style. Silver was the primary metal used for coinage, even down to the smallest denominations.
By the end of the 5th century BC Athenian domination of the Aegean world ended with its capitulation in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. The plentiful tetradrachms from the Athenian mint however, remained widely spread and in use. Despite a general climate of political strife and unrest in these years the coinage blossomed in Greece and many beautiful coins were struck like the tetradrachms of Amphipolis and Olynthos or the staters of the Arkadians.
After Alexander, son of Philip II, claimed the throne of his assassinated father in Macedon in 336 BC, he launched a series of military campaigns which led to the defeat of the Persian empire and inscribed him in the history books as 'the Great'. He heralded the beginning of the Hellenistic age, a time of great kingdoms and its charismatic leaders. City-state issues declined and were replaced by mass produced regal issues of the Ptolemies, the Seleukids and Antigonids, the socalled Diadochi.
The growing power of Rome during the 2nd century BC led to a series of conquests and military meddlings in the Greek east which resulted in the final defeat of the kingdoms of the Diadochi. Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt eventually became Roman provinces. The coinage was varied as to be expected in tumultous times like this. The Diadochi kingdoms produced mainly silver tetradrachms. Simultaneously individual city-states such as Kyzikos, Lampsakos or Myrina started minting independent issues. With Rome's control eventually established most Greek cities were deprived of the right to mint silver coins. With this act the Greek coinage (in the strictest sense) ended.