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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Gods, Olympians ▸ Athena or MinervaView Options:  |  |  |   

Athena or Minerva on Ancient Coins

Athena was the virgin goddess of wisdom, crafts, and battle strategy. Her symbols are the olive tree and the owl. She is the daughter of Zeus, according to some traditions by Metis.


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 449 B.C., Very Early "Old Style" Tetradrachm

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On this coin and all classic "old style" tetradrachms struck c. 454 - 404 B.C., the owl's tail feathers are represented by a single prong. On Athens' earlier issues, the owl's tail is composed of three separate feathers. Other than the single prong tail, this coin closely resembles the preceding issues of Starr Group V, in particular the palmette and olive leaves on Athena's helmet, and the narrow, deep incuse of the reverse. It is very likely this coin was among the earliest of the classical "old style" tetradrachms of the c. 545 - 404 B.C. issues.
SH87206. Silver tetradrachm, some characteristics of Starr Group V, but a single prong tail; cf. Svoronos Athens pl. 10, 16 - 18; Starr pl. XXII, 1 - 3; SNG München 46, Choice aEF, bold high relief, flow lines, light toning, bumps and marks, tight flan, edge cracks, weight 17.143 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 449 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral palmette scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse robust owl standing right, head facing, tail of one long prong, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; rare style variant; $3800.00 (€3230.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

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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.
SH87214. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, EF, mint luster, well centered, edge split and cracks, weight 17.212 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 315o, 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 owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $2000.00 (€1700.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 449 - 431 B.C., Time of Pericles, Old Style Tetradrachm

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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.
SH87860. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526 , gVF+, sculptural high relief, well centered, uneven toning, edge splits, weight 17.169 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 285o, Athens mint, c. 449 - 431 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 owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Savoca Coins, silver auction 26, lot 169; $1980.00 (€1683.00)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

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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.
SH87207. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, aEF, well centered, toned, light marks, edge split, weight 17.208 g, maximum diameter 26.4 mm, die axis 225o, 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 owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1600.00 (€1360.00)
 


Lapethos, Cyprus, King Sidqmelek, c. 449 - 420 B.C.

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Excavation finds date Lapithos to as early as 3000 B.C. In the 4th century B.C., Lapithos was one of the nine kingdoms of Cyprus. During the Persian rule, Lapithos was settled by Phoenicians. After Peisistratos, king of Lapithos, along with Nicocreon of Salamis, and Stasanor of Curion helped Alexander the Great capture Tyre, Alexander declared Cyprus free. The last king of Lapethos, Praxippos, was subdued by Ptolemy I in 312 B.C. Under Roman rule, Lapethos had more than 10,000 inhabitants, produced copper, earthenware and produce, and was a port and a shipyard. Lapethos was given the name Lambousa ("shining") perhaps because of its beauty or perhaps because of its lighthouse. The apostles Paul, Barnabas, and Mark passed by Lapethos coming from Tarsus. According to Barnabas, during his second tour with Mark, they stayed outside the walls because they were denied access to the city. In late antiquity, Lapethos enjoyed great prosperity but was heavily damaged by Arab incursions. The population often had to flee and take refuge in the interior. After the Byzantine recovery of Cyprus from the Arabs in 965, Lapithos's refugees returned to rebuild, but chose to stay away from the sea, relocating it at the foot of mountain Pentadactylos.
GS87792. Silver stater, BMC Cyprus p. 30 f., 7-9, pl. VI, 6-8; Traité II p. 823, 1361-1363 and pl. CXXXVI; Bank of Cyprus p. 94 & pl. VII, 2; Tziambazis 48, F, struck with worn damaged dies, weight 10.789 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 180o, Lapethos (Lambousa, Cyprus) mint, c. 449 - 420 B.C.; obverse Phoenician legend: King of Lapethos, head of Athena left, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet; reverse Phoenician legend: of Sidqmelek, head of Athena facing, wearing a double-crested helmet with bull’s horn and ears, all within an incuse square; very rare; $650.00 (€552.50)
 


Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, c. 330 - 290 B.C.

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Demeter in Greek mythology is the goddess of grain and fertility, the pure; nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death; and preserver of marriage and the sacred law. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, dated to about the seventh century B.C. she is invoked as the "bringer of seasons," a subtle sign that she was worshiped long before she was made one of the Olympians. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon.
SH82666. Silver nomos, SNG ANS 502 (same dies); Noe-Johnston Class C, 8; BMC Italy p. 251, 102; SNG Cop 1229; HN Italy 1592, aEF, attractive iridescent toning, attractive classical style, tight flan, letters on obverse obscure on all examples known to Forum, weight 7.868 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 245o, Metapontion mint, c. 330 - 290 B.C.; obverse head of Demeter right, wearing grain wreath, triple pendant earring, and pearl necklace, uncertain letters (ΣU? or EY?) under chin; reverse barley ear of seven grains with leaf to right, META upward on left, ΛY lower left, star above leaf; ex Leu Numismatik web auction 2 (26 Nov 2017), lot 36 (From the old stock of a Swiss Numismatist, acquired before 2005.); $630.00 (€535.50)
 


Clodius Albinus, Late 195 or Early 196 - 19 February 197 A.D.

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Minerva, equated with the Greek Athena, was the Roman virgin warrior goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic, and the inventor of music. She was worshiped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno.
RS87640. Silver denarius, RIC IV 7 (R1), BMCRE V 98, Hunter III 6, RSC III 48, SRCV II 6144, gVF, nice portrait, well centered on a tight flan, light toning, flow lines, small edge crack, weight 3.497 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, as caesar, 194 A.D.; obverse D CLOD SEPT ALBIN CAES, bare head right; reverse MINER PACIF COS II, Minerva, helmeted, standing left, olive branch in right hand, resting left on grounded shield, spear leans against arm; scarce (R1); $440.00 (€374.00)
 


Pergamene Kingdom, Eumenes I, 263 - 241 B.C.

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Philetaerus, an officer of Lysimachus, deserted in 282 B.C., taking control of Pergamon and a large treasure deposited there. At first nominally a Seleukid suzerainty, Pergamon grew into a strong, prosperous and independent kingdom. Loyal allies of Rome in the Macedonian Wars and against the Seleucids, they were rewarded with all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor. When Attalus III died without an heir in 133 B.C., to prevent a civil war, he bequeathed the kingdom to the Roman Republic.
GS85677. Silver tetradrachm, Westermark group III; SNG BnF 1606; SNG Cop 334; SNGvA 7453; Meydancikkale 3003; BMC Mysia p. 115, 31, VF, toned, high relief portrait, bumps and marks, weight 16.882 g, maximum diameter 29.0 mm, die axis 0o, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, struck in the name of Philetairos; obverse laureate head of Philetairos I right; reverse ΦIΛETAIPOY downward on right, Athena enthroned left, wearing crested helmet, chiton and peplos, right hand supporting grounded round shield before her, shield ornamented with a gorgoneion, resting left elbow on left arm of throne which is ornamented with a sphinx, transverse spear leaning on left arm, ivy leaf above knee, A on throne, bow outer right; ex Numismatik Naumann auction 47 (9 Oct 2016), lot 130; $340.00 (€289.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Seleukos VI Epiphanes Nikator, c. 96 - 94 B.C.

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Seleucia ad Calycadnum (Silifke, Turkey) is near the Mediterranean coast, a few miles inland from the mouth on the Göksu River. It was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the early 3rd century B.C., one of several cities he named after himself. The towns Olbia (or Olba) and Hyria were probably united to populate the new city. The residents of the nearby Holmi moved to Seleucia because the coast was vulnerable to raiders and pirates. Seleucia achieved considerable commercial prosperity as a port for this corner of Cilicia (later named Isauria), and was even a rival of Tarsus. Cilicia thrived as a province of the Romans, and Seleucia became a religious center with a renowned Temple of Jupiter. It was also the site of a noted school of philosophy and literature, the birthplace of peripatetics Athenaeus and Xenarchus.
GS87612. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2405(9); SNG Spaer 2782, Kraay-Mřrkholm Essays p. 93, 59 ff.; HGC 9 2405, VF, toned, well centered on a tight flan, light scratches and marks, weight 14.620 g, maximum diameter 29.8 mm, die axis 0o, Seleukeia on the Kalykadnos mint, c. 96 - 94 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukos VI right, diadem ends falling straight behind, fillet border; reverse Athena standing left, Nike standing right offering wreath in Athena's right hand, left hand resting on grounded shield, grounded spear vertical behind, ANEIΣI (ANE ligate) downward inner left; $260.00 (€221.00)
 


Seleukid Kingdom, Antiochus VII Euergetes Sidetes, 138 - 129 B.C.

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Oliver Hoover, in Coins of the Seleucid Empire from the Collection of Arthur Houghton, attributes this type to the Cappadocian Kingdom, c. 130 - 80 B.C. The symbols were used on Cappadocian royal coinage, the coins are found in Cappadocian hoards and a tetradrachm naming the Cappadocian King Ariarathes VII Philometor (116 - 99 B.C.) bears the obverse portrait of Antiochus VII. He notes they may have been struck to pay foreign (Syrian?) mercenaries who preferred the types of Antiochus VII.
GS87618. Silver tetradrachm, Houghton-Lorber II 2061.1s, Newell SMA 280, SNG Spaer 1852, HGC 9 1067d, VF, well centered on a broad flan, light bumps and marks, small spots of light corrosion on the obverse, weight 16.109 g, maximum diameter 31.7 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 138 - 129 B.C.; obverse diademed head of the Seleukid King Antiochos VII right, fillet border; reverse Athena standing slightly left, head left, right hand extended through inscription to border holding Nike, grounded shield in left hand, spear leaning on left arm, BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in two downward lines on right, EYEPΓETOY downward on left, ligate ∆I over Λ outer left, laurel wreath border; $260.00 (€221.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

de Callata˙, F. "Le monnayage d'argent au type d'Athéna Parthénos émis au nom des Ainianes" in Obolos 7.
Houghton, A. "The Seleucid Mint of Mallus And the Cult Figure of Athena Magarsia" in Studies Mildenberg.
Imhoof-Blumer, F. "Die Flügelgestalten der Athena und Nike auf Münzen" in NZ III (1871)., pp. 1 - 50.

Catalog current as of Wednesday, January 23, 2019.
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Athena or Minerva