Ptolemaic coinage was struck in Phoenician weight, also known as Ptolemaic weight (about 14.2 grams). This standard, which was not used elsewhere in the Hellenistic world, was smaller than the dominant Attic weight. Consequentially, Ptolemaic coins are smaller than other Hellenistic coinage. In terms of art, the coins, which were made of silver, followed the example set by contemporary Greek currencies, with dynastic figures being typically portrayed. The Ptolemaic coin making process often resulted in a central depression, similar to what can be found on Seleucid coinage.
The Ptolemaic dynasty introduced standard coinage to Egypt, where pre-existing native dynasties made only very limited use of coins. The first Ptolemaic mint was in Memphis and was later moved to Alexandria. Succeeding in monetizing the Egyptian society, largely due to efforts of king Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Ptolemaic kingdom flourished. For most of its history, the kingdom vigorously enforced a policy of a single currency, confiscating foreign coins found on its territory and forcing its dominions to adopt Ptolemaic coinage. In the rare cases when these dominions were allowed their own currency, such as the Jewish community in Palestine, they still had to observe the Ptolemaic weight. These policies, along with inflation and increasing difficulty to obtain silver, caused monetary isolation of the Ptolemaic coinage.
After Egypt was annexed into the Roman Empire and the Ptolemaic dynasty ceased to exist, its currency still remained in circulation. This was the case until the rule of Emperor Nero. Silver from the coins was reused for Roman tetradrachm. Denarii and aurei did not circulate in the former Ptolemaic Kingdom, so Egypt's monetary isolation continued.