The July 2015 issue of COIN NEWS from Token Publishing has been issued. Given the recent focus on the finances of Greece, an
article on the 1973 Series A and B Greek coins is timely. Here's an excerpt from the piece by Philip McLoughlin. -Editor
The coup, led by Colonel George Papadopoulos, was well planned. Tanks took control of the streets of Athens while the military arrested
prominent politicians. The King behaved indecisively: initially he refused to cooperate with the military, but eventually, hoping to be a
restraining influence, he swore in a new junta government. The junta, though, regarded him as a mere figure head.
The Regime of the Colonels was right-wing, authoritarian and repressive. Opponents of the junta were routinely arrested and brutally
tortured. On December 13, 1967 the King attempted a counter-coup in the northern city of Kavala, but it was poorly planned and executed,
and pro-Junta offi cers easily foiled it. On December 14, Constantine escaped by plane to Italy with his family. Colonel Papadopoulos now
made himself Prime Minister of Greece, while General Zoitakis was appointed Regent.
In March 1972 Papadopoulos increased his power by appointing himself regent in place of Zoitakis, while still retaining the premiership.
And when the coins for 1973 were issued, the designs of the 10 and 20 lepta coins, the smallest denominations, had changed. The soldier and
phoenix replaced the royal crown on the obverse, and two fine new designs graced the reverse: two dolphins and a trident on the 10 lepta,
while the 20 lepta featured an olive branch.
These two coins had also been reduced in diameter by two millimetres each, and they now no longer had a
central hole. Though the King’s portrait was retained on the higher denominations, the emblem of the regime now appeared on one side of
Additionally a circulation 20 drachmai coin was issued for the first time: the King’s portrait was absent and the obverse sported the
soldier and phoenix emblem instead, whilst the charming reverse design, adapted from the silver 20 drachmai collector coin of 1960 and
1965, depicted Selene the moon goddess. This coin comes in three types, with variations in the size of the rim, the waves behind the
horse’s hoof, and the thickness of Selene’s veil.
Throughout 1973 Papadopoulos softened his censorship and released some political prisoners, in order to head off discontent. In the
summer he held a referendum on the monarchy, though it was probably rigged. Some 89 per cent of the electorate apparently voted against the
still exiled King, and accordingly on June 1, 1973 Papadopoulos declared Greece a republic, with himself as President!
This sudden constitutional change explains the two different coin series issued in 1973. The monarchical issues of early 1973, known as
Series A, carried the King’s portrait, or else the “phoenix and soldier” emblem of the dictatorship, or both. The 10 and 20 lepta and 20
drachmai coins were one year types. The coins of Series B were issued in the second half of 1973, after the switch to a republic; on these
a new version of the phoenix, but without the soldier, replaced the regime’s emblem. This demilitarised emblem, which seemed to hint at a
return to democracy, appeared on the obverse of all the Series B coins.
The reverse designs of the 10 and 20 lepta of Series A, the dolphins and olive branch, were retained on Series B, but new reverse
designs were adopted on the higher denominations in order to replace the King’s portrait. The 50 lepta now sported an attractive ornamental
design; a little owl graced the 1 drachma and 2 drachmai; the 5 and 10 drachmai featured a delightful depiction of Pegasus, the mythical
winged horse; whilst the 20 drachmai sported a splendid design of the goddess Athena. All the coins of series B were one year types.
To vist the Token Publishing website, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization
promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor
at this address: email@example.com
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster