Author Topic: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B  (Read 12985 times)

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Offline <k>

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Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« on: April 27, 2012, 11:48:27 PM »
King Paul of Greece, who had reigned since 1947, died in March 1964. Here is his portrait on a two drachmai coin of 1962.
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2012, 11:50:48 PM »


Paul’s only son succeeded him, becoming King Constantine II.





Here is his portrait on a one drachma coin of 1966.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2012, 11:52:47 PM »
Only the coins of 50 lepta and above were changed, since only they carried the monarch’s portrait. The 5, 10 and 20 lepta coins retained the same obverse and reverse designs from 1954 until 1971.
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 12:01:17 AM »


Since late 1963 Georgios Papandreou, the leader of the Centre Union (a Greek political party), had been prime minister of Greece. (His name-sake and grandson was Greek prime minister from 2009 to 2011). However, in early 1965 his son Andreas was allegedly involved in a scandal, which revolved around a secret society whose members were trying to gain better positions in the military. Andreas denied any involvement, but the defence minister started an investigation. Papandreou disapproved of this, so the defence minister resigned. 

Papandreou decided to take up the post of defence minister himself, while still remaining prime minister. King Constantine, who was only 24, objected that this would constitute a conflict of interest, since the prime minister’s son was allegedly involved in a military scandal. Neither side could agree, so in July 1965 the king accepted Papandreou’s resignation and almost immediately swore in Georgios Athanasiadis-Novas as the new prime minister. This led to suspicions that Constantine had wanted to get rid of Papandreou all along. From Wikipedia:

At this point, Papandreou appealed to public opinion with the slogan "the King reigns but the people rule", and called upon the people to support him. King Constantine made several attempts to form new governments, but none of them lasted for long. He appointed Speaker of Parliament Georgios Athanasiadis-Novas as Prime Minister, but he did not gain a vote of confidence in parliament. He was replaced on August 20 of the same year by Ilias Tsirimokos with similar results. Failing to gain a vote of confidence, Tsirimokos was dismissed on September 17.

Constantine II next induced some of Papandreou's dissidents, led by Stephanos Stephanopoulos, to form a government of "King's men", which lasted until December 22nd 1966, amid mounting strikes and protests. When Stephanopoulos resigned in frustration, Constantine appointed an interim government under Ioannis Paraskevopoulos, which called elections for 28th May 1967. This government did not even last till the scheduled elections. It was replaced on April 3rd 1967 by another interim government under Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, the leader of the National Radical Union.

There were many indications that Papandreou's Centre Union would not be able to form a working government by itself in the scheduled elections. Therefore, there was a strong possibility that the Centre Union would be forced into an alliance with the socialist EDA. This sense of a "Communist threat", along with putschist tendencies existent in some right-wing nationalist factions of the military, eventually led to the coup d'état of April 21st 1967, which established a military dictatorship, better known as the "Regime of the Colonels".


 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2012, 12:02:11 AM »
The Cold War was still very much alive in 1967, and Greece bordered three communist countries: Albania, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria. Additionally, the Greek Communist Party had been involved in the Greek civil war, which ended in 1949. Given all this, it is perhaps understandable that the Greek military thought the communists might try to take advantage of the political crisis and so decided to act first.
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2012, 12:04:03 AM »


The coup, led by Colonel George Papadopoulos (centre), was well planned. Tanks took control of the streets of Athens while the military arrested prominent politicians. The king appears to have acted in a confused manner. At first he refused to cooperate with the military, but eventually he swore in a new junta government, possibly hoping to exercise a positive influence. However, the junta regarded him as a figure head only.

The military dictatorship was right-wing, authoritarian and repressive. Opponents of the junta were routinely arrested and tortured. On 13th December 1967 King Constantine attempted a counter-coup against the military, but it was poorly planned and executed, and on 14th December he escaped by plane to Italy with his family. Colonel George Papadopoulos made himself prime minister of Greece, and General Georgios Zoitakis was appointed Regent of Greece.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2012, 12:09:32 AM »


Greece was still legally a monarchy and the King's portrait remained on the coins, but in 1971 the symbol of the military dictatorship, a soldier guarding a phoenix, replaced the royal arms on the reverse of the coinage. In March 1972 Papadopoulos replaced Zoitakis as regent, while still remaining prime minister. However, the king was still in exile. From Wikipedia:

As internal dissatisfaction grew in the early 1970s, and especially after an abortive coup by the Navy in early 1973, Papadopoulos attempted to legitimise the regime by beginning a gradual "democratisation". On 1 June 1973 he abolished the monarchy and declared himself President of the Republic after a controversial referendum, the results of which were not recognised by the political parties.

This decision, then, explains the two different design series issued in 1973. The monarchical issues of 1973, known as “Series A”, portrayed either the king’s portrait, or the “phoenix and soldier” symbol of the military dictatorship, or both. Series B, which was issued in the second half of 1973, after the country was proclaimed a republic, featured neither of those symbols.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2012, 12:17:39 AM »


1973: 10 lepta, Series A.  The dolphins and trident design is a one-year design only. The emblem of the miltary regime appears on the obverse.





On the Series B version, the soldier has been removed from the regime's symbol, but the phoenix, symbolising the "national rebirth" of the military "revolution", remains.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2012, 12:19:32 AM »


20 lepta, Series A.





20 lepta, Series B.  This olive branch design was used in 1973 only.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2012, 12:24:48 AM »


50 lepta, Series A.





50 lepta, Series B. Another one-year design on the reverse of the coin.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 12:31:06 AM »


1 drachma, Series A.





1 drachma, Series B.  This owl design appeared only in 1973.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2012, 12:34:35 AM »




2 drachmai, Series A.





2 drachmai, Series B.  The owl design was shared by the 1 and 2 drachma(i) coins in 1973 but was never used again in subsequent years.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2012, 12:42:21 AM »


5 drachmai, Series A.





5 drachmai, Series B.  This superb Pegasus design was used only in 1973.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2012, 12:46:27 AM »


10 drachmai reverse, Series A.  The obverse featured the usual portrait of the king.





10 drachmai reverse, Series B.  The obverse featured the usual phoenix (without the soldier). The Pegasus design was shared by the 5 and 10 drachmai coins in 1973 but was never used again in subsequent years.

 
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Re: Greece 1973: the fascinating story behind Series A and B
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2012, 01:04:35 AM »


20 drachmai reverse, Series A.

















20 drachmai reverse, Series A.  This comes in various types. Look at the size of the rim, the waves behind the horse's hoof, and the thickness of the woman's veil.





The original reverse design was adapted from the silver 20 drachmai coin of 1960 and 1965. The design was not used again after 1973.

 
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