The first Greek coins, like those of Lydia, were incuse on one side and were stamped with the badge of a city or a deity. After its adoption by Argos and Athens, coinage spread quickly to the Greek coastal cities of the Mediterranean during the 6th century BC.
Early Greek coinage is characterized by its high relief and exceptional engraving. The artistic quality of coinage was a matter of great importance to the Greek city-states as coins became a focus of civic pride and a mark of political independence. Designs were chosen based on the patron deity of a city or products associated with it or on punning allusions to the city name so that the coins would be easily recognized as having come from that city. Over time as more cities began issuing coins, legends began to be added to make their origins more clear.
The Greeks of Southern Italy (Magna Graecia) and Sicily began to adopt coinage during the middle of the 6th century BC. However, a group of cities did not simply copy the form of the coins that they learned about from the cities of Greece proper - instead they introduced an innovative method of striking coins. This method involved the production of coins with a raised design on one side and a mirror image of the same design in incuse on the reverse.
The process of making these coins was more complicated than the usual method as it required more care in engraving so that the obverse and reverse dies would match and that the dies be properly aligned during striking in order to produce an acceptable result. The problem with these requirements is that the extra skill and care necessary to create the coins made them more expensive to produce. Coins of this type were no longer produced by the middle of the 5th century BC.