Electrum Hekte – Sixth Stater from Ionia, Phokaia c. 625-522 BC Rooster with a small seal above. On the reverse, an incuse square punch.
This week we have a coin from the earliest years of coinage, an electrum sixth of a stater. The coin is one of the earliest examples of small denominations. The full stater, a large coin of electrum, a gold-silver alloy, was too large to be an effective coin for any but the largest of purchases. The halfs, thirds, and sixths (and sometimes even smaller denominations) were useful for common exchanges.
The rooster and seal were images common to Phokaia, and the rooster-head is used on Phokaian currency for at least a century and a half. There has been a suggestion that the rooster may be related to Hermes, the god responsible for exchange and sale. The seal has not been thoroughly explained as a device, and it falls out of use after about two generations.