Islands of Attica, Aegina (c. 456/5-431 BC)
Obverse: Tortoise with segmented shell.
Reverse: Large incuse skew pattern.
Lightly toned. Extremely Fine. Particularly well centred for the issue.
(SNG Copenhagen 516).
The earliest coins of Aegina (which was the first Greek state to adopt coinage, all coins prior having been minted in Asia Minor and the Ionian Islands) were struck around 600 BC and depicted the distinctive sea turtle, usually with a dotted or smooth shell. During the middle of the 5th Century BC, the turtle was replaced by a tortoise, with clearly defined legs and a segmented shell. This has been seen by many as a result of the Athenian occupation of Aegina during the Peloponnesian War. The island was a significant power in the Aegean, and had become wealthy through trade. The Athenians may have forced the change of design to show that Aegina was no longer a sea-faring power (the turtle) – instead confined to land (the tortoise). In any case, the turtle and tortoise staters of Aegina are extremely popular today, thanks to their attractive and lifelike depictions of the reptiles, struck in high relief.