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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ Greece ▸ AthensView Options:  |  |  | 

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. 454 - 404 B.C.

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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.
SH77464. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, EF, well centered on a tight flan, light marks, weight 17.164 g, maximum diameter 26.8 mm, die axis 135o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 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; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 233 (6 Oct 2015), lot 1431; $1950.00 (€1735.50) ON RESERVE


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 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.
SH71597. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, VF, no test cuts, nice Athena and owl, toned, well centered on a tight flan, as usual crest off flan, light marks and scratches, weight 17.042 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 135o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C. (probably close to 404 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; $1000.00 SALE PRICE $900.00
 


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 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.
SH72559. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered, high relief, reverse test cuts, weight 17.117 g, maximum diameter 25.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 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; ex Forum (2007); $720.00 SALE PRICE $648.00
 


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 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.
GS73681. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, Dewing 1611, SGCV I 2526, F, centered, obverse rough, test cuts, weight 16.302 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 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; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 140 - 175 A.D.

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King Minos demanded that, every ninth year, Athens send seven boys and seven girls to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in the Labyrinth. Theseus, son of Aigeus, the king of Athens, volunteered to take the place of one of the youths and slay the monster to stop this horror. Upon his arrival to Crete, Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with him and gave him a ball of thread to help him find his way out of the Labyrinth. Theseus promised Ariadne that if he escaped he would take her with him. Using the string to mark his path, he made his way to the heart of the Labyrinth, slew the Minotaur, followed the string out, and then rescued the Athenian boys and girls. Athena told Theseus to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind on the beach. Distressed by his broken heart, Theseus forgot to put up the white sails that were to signal his success. Upon seeing black sails, his father committed suicide, throwing himself off a cliff into the sea, causing this body of water to be named the Aegean.
GB77873. Bronze drachm, BMC Attica p. 105, 764; SNG Cop 341; Svoronos Athens, pl. 96, 1; Kroll 276, aF, corrosion, weight 7.132 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, pseudo-autonomous under Rome, c. 140 - 175 A.D.; obverse helmeted head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet; reverse AΘHNAIΩN, Theseus right, preparing to slay the Minotaur, nude, planting knee on the back of Minotaur, raising club in his right hand, a horn of the Minotaur in his left hand, the Minotaur falling right on left knee; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren (Antioch Associates); very rare; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 340 - 335 B.C., Eleusinian Festival Coinage

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Triptolemus was a demigod of the Eleusinian mysteries who presided over the sowing of grain-seed and the milling of wheat. His name means He who Pounds the Husks. In myth, Triptolemos was one of the Eleusinian princes who kindly received Demeter when she came mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone. The young goddess was eventually returned to her from the Underworld, and Demeter in her munificence, instructed Triptolemos in the art of agriculture, and gave him a winged chariot drawn by serpents so that he might travel the world spreading her gift.
GB77129. Bronze dichalkon, Kroll 38h-k; BMC Attica p. 113, 14; SNG Cop 416; Svoronos Athens pl. 103, 5, F/aVF, pitting, light scratches, weight 2.993 g, maximum diameter 16.0 mm, die axis 45o, Athens mint, c. 340 - 335 B.C.; obverse Triptolemos seated left in winged chariot drawn by two serpents, stalk of grain in his right hand; reverse Piglet standing right on mystic staff, EΛEYΣI above, bucranium (control symbol) in exergue; rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00
 


Persian Empire, Arabia, Gaza, Samaria or Judaea, c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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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; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
 


Salamis, Islands off Attica, Greece, 4th century B.C.

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Salamis is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf, about 2 km off-coast from Piraeus and about 16 km west of Athens. Some say it was named after the nymph Salamis, according to legend the mother of Cychreus, the first king of the island. Another theory, considers "Salamis" to come from the root Sal- (meaning salty water) and -amis (meaning the middle); thus Salamis would be (the place) amid salt water. Salamis was probably first colonized by Aegina and later occupied by Megara, but became an Athenian possession in the time of Solon or Peisistratos, following the war between Athens and Megara around 600 B.C. According to Homer's Iliad, Salamis took part in the Trojan War with twelve ships under the leadership of Ajax. Salamis island is known for the Battle of Salamis, the decisive naval victory of the allied Greek fleet, led by Themistocles, over the Persian Empire in 480 B.C. It is said to be the birthplace of Ajax and Euripides; the latter's birth being popularly placed on the day of the battle.
GB76810. Bronze AE 16, SNG Cop 455; Kroll p. 214, 640; BMC Attica p. 116, 1, VF, rough corrosion, weight 2.787 g, maximum diameter 16.4 mm, die axis 180o, Salamis mint, 4th century B.C.; obverse head of nymph Salamis right, wearing stephanos; reverse ΣA−ΛA, sword of Ajax in sheath, on his Boeotian shield; very rare; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00
 


American Numismatic Society: Museum Notes 26 (1981)

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Greek:
Kroll, J.H. From Wappenmünzen to Gorgoneia to owls
Thompson, M. The Cavalla hoard (IGCH 450)
Martin, T.R. A third-century B.C. hoard from Thessaly at the ANS (IGCH 168)
Mathisen, R.W. Antigonus Gonatas and the silver coinages of Macedonia circa 280-270 B.C.
Weiskopf, M. The Kuh Dasht hoard and the Parthian "Dark Age"
Mc Lean, M.D. The initial coinage of Alexander Jannaeus
Harl, K.W. Caracalla or Elagabalus? The imperial imago at the Greek mint of Magnesia ad Maeandrum
Roman and Byzantine:
Metcalf, W.E. A corrigendum to The Cistophori of Hadrian
Kaiser-Raiss, M.R. Posthumous Hadrianic medallions?
Asian:
Malandra, G. Transitional style in the Siva images on Kusana gold coins
Bates, M.L. The Ottoman coinage of Tilimsa
Medals:
Varriano, J.L.: Some documentary evidence on the restriking of early Papal medals
BK11652. ANS: Museum Notes 26 (1981), 223 pages, 32 plates, paperback, good condition, faded cover, bent corner; $12.00 (€10.68) ON RESERVE







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REFERENCES

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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 (New York, 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).
Hoover, O.D. Handbook of Coins of Northern and Central Greece: Achaia Phthiotis...Attica, Megaris, and Corinthia, Sixth to First Centuries BC, HGC 4. (Lancaster, PA, 2014).
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).
Lindgren, H. C. & F. L. Kovacs. Ancient Bronze Coins of Asia Minor and the Levant. (San Mateo, 1985).
Mildenberg, L. & S. Hurter, eds. The Dewing Collection of Greek Coins. ACNAC 6. (New York, 1985).
Mørkholm, O. "The Chronology of the New Style Silver Coinage of Athens" in ANSMN 29. (New York, 1984).
Nicolet-Pierre, H & J.H. Kroll. "Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the Third Century BC," AJN 2 (1990). pp. 1-35.
Robinson, E. S. G. and G. K. Jenkins. A Catalogue of the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection of Greek Coins. (Lisboa, 1971-89).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
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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, Vol. 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, May 31, 2016.
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Athens Greek Coins