Numismatica Font Project
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Unicode Greek Fonts for Numismatists


by Chris Hopkins
Version 4, 22 Feb 2010

Note: This web page is designed to use the font settings of your web browser. The plain text version of this document is also available in a zipped file.

To test different fonts, change the default Greek font settings of your browser.
     In Firefox: Tools > Options > Content tab > Fonts & Colors Advanced button>Fonts for: Greek
     In Internet Explorer: Tools > Internet Options > General tab > Fonts button>Language Script: Greek

The following Greek characters are needed to represent Greek legends on ancient coins (the modern koppa is included only for illustration of a problem).

Using default font currently set for your web browser:
Line 1. Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
Line 2: Ϛ Ϝ Ϡ
Line 3: Ϙ (archaic "lollipop" koppa), Ϟ (modern "lightening bolt" koppa)
Line 4: Ϸ Ϲ Ϻ

Using font defined for Greek Legends by Parthia.com cascading style sheet:
Line 1. Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
Line 2: Ϛ Ϝ Ϡ
Line 3: Ϙ (archaic "lollipop" koppa), Ϟ (modern "lightening bolt" koppa)
Line 4: Ϸ Ϲ Ϻ

     (Click here for a verification image of the four lines above.)
     (Click here to download a plain text file of this page for testing fonts on your computer.)

The characters on Lines 1-4 will be displayed in Windows applications (including Internet browsers) if the viewer is using a Class I font. Lines 1-3 are almost always displayed if viewed using a Class I, II or III font. The Class IV and V fonts should not be used for Greek characters other those on than Line 1.

In the text above, I frequently mention that the Windows operating system will try to substitute a character for one that is missing in a font. To see how inconsistent Windows is in choosing the characters to substitute, do this:

  1. Open the plain text version of this document in Notepad

  2. Set the font to Arial Unicode MS

  3. Turn off word wrap

  4. Select All, then copy the Lines 1 to 4 text to the clipboard

  5. Open a new document in MS Word. If the default font is not Times New Roman, set the font to TNR

  6. Paste text from the clipboard. Examine the two koppas

  7. Select All, then change the font to Arial Unicode MS. Examine the koppas. Select All, then change the
    font to Times New Roman

  8. In Microsoft Word 2003 and later, you can examine the Unicode codepoint of a character by placing the cursor
    immediately after the character, then pressing Alt-X

You will likely see some interesting substitutions for the koppa, different from the substitutions used in Notepad. In my trials, the archaic koppa missing in the font is substituted with an archaic koppa (supposedly from the MS Sans Serif font which we know does not have any Greek characters in the font!) and the modern koppa is replaced with a poorly designed modern koppa from Palatino Linotype; it is recognizable neither as an archaic nor a modern koppa. Another strange aspect of substitutions is Windows' unpredictable use of different fonts for substitutions depending on point size of the font.


Unicode characters suitable for describing Greek coin inscriptions (displayed using the default font settings of your web browser).

To test different fonts, change the font settings of your browser.

Line 1:
Α U+0391 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA
Β U+0392 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER BETA
Γ U+0393 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER GAMMA
Δ U+0394 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER DELTA
Ε U+0395 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER EPSILON
Ζ U+0396 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ZETA
Η U+0397 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ETA
Θ U+0398 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER THETA
Ι U+0399 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER IOTA
Κ U+039A : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER KAPPA
Λ U+039B : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER LAMDA
Μ U+039C : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER MU
Ν U+039D : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER NU
Ξ U+039E : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER XI
Ο U+039F : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER OMICRON
Π U+03A0 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER PI
Ρ U+03A1 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER RHO
Σ U+03A3 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER SIGMA
Τ U+03A4 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER TAU
Υ U+03A5 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER UPSILON
Φ U+03A6 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER PHI
Χ U+03A7 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER CHI
Ψ U+03A8 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER PSI
Ω U+03A9 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER OMEGA

Line 2:
Ϛ U+03DA : GREEK LETTER STIGMA
Ϝ U+03DC : GREEK LETTER DIGAMMA
Ϡ U+03E0 : GREEK LETTER SAMPI

Line 3:
Ϙ U+03D8 : GREEK LETTER ARCHAIC KOPPA (a correct font has a "lollipop" koppa)
Ϟ U+03DE : GREEK LETTER KOPPA (a correct font has a "lightening bolt" koppa, but it is a modern character, never used as Koppa on ancient coins)

Line 4:
In the Unicode specification, but not yet supported by most fonts:
Ϸ U+03F7 : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER SHO [Bactrian letter]
Ϲ U+03F9 : GREEK CAPITAL LUNATE SIGMA SYMBOL
Ϻ U+03FA : GREEK CAPITAL LETTER SAN


This page last updated 26 Jan 2011

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Online since 28 March 1998
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