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 StyleDrachm, 449 - 413 B.C.
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 (€675.00)
Levant, Egypt or Arabia, Imitative Athenian Transitional StyleTetradrachm, c. 350 - 330 B.C.
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 (€600.00)
Athens, Greece, New StyleTetradrachm, c. 110 - 109 B.C.
The "New Style" tetradrachms were issued by Athens as a semi-autonomous city under Roman rule. The new-style Owls are markedly different from the Owls of Periclean Athens or the "eye in profile" Athena head of the Fourth Century. They were struck on thinner, broad flans, typical of the Hellenistic period, with a portrait of Athena that reflected the heroic portraiture of the period. The owl now stands on an amphora, surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols, all within an olive wreath. The amphora is marked with a letter that may indicate the month of production. Letters below the amphora may indicate the source of the silver used in production.
SH71157. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 165 (same obverse die); Thompson Athens 718 (same obverse die, reverse die not listed); Svoronos Athens pl. 60, 24 (different dies), VF, weight 16.762 g, maximum diameter 29.1 mm, die axis 0o, magistrates Zoilos, Euandros, and Theoxen[...] mint, 110 - 109 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, Pegasos right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above the visor; reverse A−ΘE / ZΩI−ΛOΣ / EYAN/∆POΣ / ΘEO/ΞE/N, owl standing right on amphora on its side, bee on right, K(?) on amphora, ΣΦ under amphora, all within olive wreath; $750.00 (€562.50)
Athens, Greece, Early Transitional Tetradrachm, c. 393 - 355 B.C.
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 (€262.50)
Persian Empire, Arabia, Gaza, Samaria or Judaea, c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens
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 (€150.00)
Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 87 - 86 B.C., Mithradatic War Issue
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 (€52.50)
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