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Home>Catalog>GreekCoins>Geographic-AllPeriods>Greece>Athens

Athens, Other Cities of Attica, and Athenian Imitatives

The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" and "girls" (but in Greek of course). "Owls" were so popular as a central currency of the ancient world that the design remained essentially unchanged and somewhat archaic long after other cities began to produce coins of a more refined artistic style. "Owls" are still very popular. For collectors they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 449 - 413 B.C.
Click for a larger photo The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH90376. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31 ff., Kroll 8, SGCV I 2526, NGC certified Choice VF, strike 4/5, Surface 2/5, graffito (1983932-069), weight 17.13 g, maximum diameter 30 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; $1530.00 SALE PRICE $1377.00

Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 449 - 413 B.C.
Click for a larger photo Some numismatists believe Athens tetradrachms on which Athena has this droopy eye, thick lips, and big chin are imitatives struck in either Asia Minor or Egypt. Most references and sales catalogs, however, list coins with this portrait style as ordinary Athens mint issues.
SH71562. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31 ff., Kroll 8, SGCV I 2526, Nice VF, small flan flaw reverse center, weight 17.154 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 449 - 413 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square; no test cuts!; $1200.00 (€900.00) ON RESERVE

Athens, Greece, Old Style Drachm, 449 - 413 B.C.
Click for a larger photo During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War. Drachms were struck only in relatively small quantities.
SH71029. Silver drachm, SNG Cop 41, Kroll 10, Dewing 1601, VF, weight 4.266 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 449 - 413 B.C.; obverse head of Athena r., almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves & floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair across forehead in parallel curves; reverse AΘE right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, to left olive sprig and crescent, all within incuse square; scarcer denomination; $900.00 SALE PRICE $810.00

Levant, Egypt or Arabia, Imitative Athenian Transitional Style Tetradrachm, c. 350 - 330 B.C.
Click for a larger photo This coin is from the hoard containing at least 76 Athenian-type owls, both Athenian issues and Egyptian and Levantine imitations, and two silver "dumps" cataloged and discussed by Peter G. van Alfen, in "A New Athenian "Owl" and Bullion Hoard from the Near East" in AJN 16-17 (2004-05), pp. 47-61, and pl. 6-13. The hoard is rumored to have come from the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
SH66406. Silver tetradrachm, Van Alfen New p. 58 and pl. 12, 67 (this coin), VF, test cut on reverse, weight 16.983 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 353 - 294 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and floral scroll; reverse owl standing right, head facing, to right AΘE in large lettering, to left olive sprig and crescent; Van Alfen plate coin; very rare; $800.00 SALE PRICE $720.00

Athens, Greece, Early Transitional Tetradrachm, c. 393 - 355 B.C.
Click for a larger photo The early transitional tetradrachms introduced a more natural, eye-in-profile, and more feminine portrait. The early transitional type continued the a relatively naturalistic form of the floral ornament, similar to that on the classical tetradrachms. This type can be distinguised from the later Pi-Style tetradrachms by the higher position of the A on the reverse. On Pi-Style tetradrachms the left side of the A never extends above the notch between the owl's body and neck.
SH27882. Silver tetradrachm, Kroll 15, Kroll Pi-Style p. 241, fig. 4; SNG München 90; SNG Delepierre 1470; SGCV I 2537; BMC Attica pl. V, 5; Svoronos Athens pl. 19, 13; SNG Cop -, F, test cut on reverse, typical tight flan, weight 16.998 g, maximum diameter 23.2 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 393 - 355 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and floral scroll, wearing earring and necklace, pellet above earring; reverse owl standing right, head facing, to right AΘE in large lettering, to left olive sprig and crescent; ex ECIN; $350.00 SALE PRICE $315.00

Persian Empire, Arabia, Gaza, Samaria or Judaea, c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens
Click for a larger photo A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Middle East.
JD66401. Silver obol, cf. Hendin 1011, Meshorer TJC 4 ff., SNG ANS 15 ff., VF, toned, weight 0.576 g, maximum diameter 8.1 mm, die axis 270o, obverse helmeted head of Athena right; reverse AΘE, owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, within incuse square; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 87 - 86 B.C., Mithradatic War Issue
Click for a larger photo In 87 B.C., Mithridates moved his forces into Greece and established Aristion as a tyrant in Athens. Sulla landed in Epirus and marched through Boeotia into Attica. Most cities declared their allegiance to Rome, foremost among them Thebes. Athens, however, remained loyal to Mithridates. After a long and brutal siege, Sulla's rough battle hardened legions, veterans of the Social War, took Athens on the Kalends of March 86 B.C. They looted and burned temples and structures built in the city by various Hellenistic kings to honor themselves and gain prestige. Months later, only after they ran out of water, Aristion surrendered the Akropolis. Athens was looted and punished severely. Roman vengeance ensured Greece would remain docile during later civil wars and Mithridatic wars.
GB69776. Bronze chalkous, SNG Cop 307, BMC Attica p. 81, 554; Kroll 97; Svoronos Athens pl. 84, 45 - 48, F, flan crack, weight 7.255 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, Mithradates VI of Pontos & Aristion, 87 - 86 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Zeus advancing right, nude, hurling thunderbolt with right, left extended, A/Q-E flanking below arms, star between two crescents (one above and one below) in lower right field; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; scarce; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00

Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 87 - 86 B.C., Mithradatic War Issue
Click for a larger photo In 87 B.C., Mithridates moved his forces into Greece and established Aristion as a tyrant in Athens. Sulla landed in Epirus and marched through Boeotia into Attica. Most cities declared their allegiance to Rome, foremost among them Thebes. Athens, however, remained loyal to Mithridates. After a long and brutal siege, Sulla's rough battle hardened legions, veterans of the Social War, took Athens on the Kalends of March 86 B.C. They looted and burned temples and structures built in the city by various Hellenistic kings to honor themselves and gain prestige. Months later, only after they ran out of water, Aristion surrendered the Akropolis. Athens was looted and punished severely. Roman vengeance ensured Greece would remain docile during later civil wars and Mithridatic wars.
GB68411. Bronze chalkous, SNG Cop 307, BMC Attica p. 81, 554; Kroll 97; Svoronos Athens pl. 84, 45 - 48, F, thick flan, weight 9.775 g, maximum diameter 19.7 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, Mithradates VI of Pontos & Aristion, 87 - 86 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Zeus advancing right, nude, hurling thunderbolt with right, left extended, A/Q-E flanking below arms, star between two crescents (one above and one below) in lower right field; $50.00 SALE PRICE $45.00


ITEMS PER PAGE 13510203050



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REFERENCES

Bingen, J. "Le trésor de tétradrachmes attiques de style Pi" in MIGRA I (Gent, 1975).
Bingen, J. "Le trésor monétaire Thorikos 1969" in Thorikos VI. (Brussels, 1973).
de Callatay, F. "Athenian new style tetradrachms in Macedonian hoards" in AJN 3-4 (1992).
Fischer-Bossert, W. "More Athenian Decadrachms" in SNR 88 (2009).
Fischer-Bossert, W. The Athenian Decadrachm. ANSNNM 168. (New York, 2008).
Flament, C. Le monnayage en argent d’Athènes. De l’époque archaïque à l’époque hellénistique (c. 550-c. 40 av. J.-C.). (Lovain-la-Neuve, 2007).
Head, B. Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Attica - Megaris - Aegina. (London, 1888).
Kroll, J.H. The Greek Coins. The Athenian Agora, vol. XXVI. (Princeton, 1993).
Kroll, J.H. "The Reminting of Athenian Silver Coinage, 353 B.C.," Hesperia Vol. 80 (2011).
Kraay, C.M. Coins of Ancient Athens. Minerva Numismatic Handbooks No. 2. (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1968).
Mørkholm, O. "The Chronology of the New Style Silver Coinage of Athens" in ANSMN 29. (1984).
Nicolet-Pierre, H & J.H. Kroll. "Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the Third Century BC", AJN 2 (1990). pp. 1-35.
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Seltman, C.T. Athens, its history and coinage before the Persian invasion. (Cambridge, 1924).
Sverdrup, H.U. The history and catalogue of the tetradrachms of Athens. (Stockholm, 2010).
Starr, C. Athenian coinage 480-449 BC. (London, 1970).
Svoronos, J. Les monnaies d’Athenes. (Munich, 1923-26).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Volume 3: Greece: Thessaly to Aegean Islands. (New Jersey, 1982).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, München Staatlische Münzsammlung, Part 14: Attika, Megaris, Ägina. (Berlin, 2002).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, France, Bibliothèque National, Collection Jean et Marie Delepierre. (Paris, 1983).
Thompson, M. The New Style Silver Coinage of Athens. ANSNS 10. (1961).
van Alfen, P.G. "A New Athenian "Owl" and Bullion Hoard from the Near East," AJN 16 - 17 (2004-05). pp. 47-61, pl. 6-17.

Catalog current as of Tuesday, September 23, 2014.
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Athens Greek Coins