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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.
SH72559. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, 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); $800.00 (€704.00)
 


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, 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; $550.00 (€484.00)
 


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; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


Attica, Athens, Summer 32 B.C.

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Kroll dates this issue to the summer of 32 B.C., when Antony and Cleopatra stayed in Athens. The head of Zeus is in the Ptolemaic style and represents Egypt, while Dionysos represents Antony.
GB69775. Bronze AE 20, SNG Cop 311 (same dies); Kroll 144; Svoronos Athens pl. 25, 36 ff.; BMC Attica p. 86, 604; Lindgren-Kovacs 1544, F, weight 6.291 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, summer 32 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Zeus; reverse head of Dionysos, wearing ivy wreath, A−Θ/E flanking; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; very rare; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


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 (€176.00)
 


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; $15.00 (€13.20)







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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 Saturday, February 13, 2016.
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Athens Greek Coins