Phocaea was the most northern of the twelve Greek cities of Ionia. Since it had virtually no hinterland to provide for its inhabitants, the Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long see voyages. They sailed as far as Spain and southern France,trading and founding colonies like, for example, the French city of Marseille.
As a trade city Phocaea minted coins from early on. This obol supposedly derives from there; the time of production is uncertain. The city minted mainly electrum coins, yet it also issued some silver pieces, even if only in small denominations. The silver obol depicts a lion or a griffin with his mouth wide open and its tongue stretched out.