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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Themes & Provenance| ▸ |Birds| ▸ |Owl||View Options:  |  |  | 

Owls on Ancient Coins

Owls are depicted on many different ancient coin types but the most prolific types are the coins of ancient Athens. The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" (but in Greek of course) and "girls" (referring to Athena on the obverse, also in Greek). "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" of Athens are still very popular. For collectors, they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.

Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Philistia| |(Gaza| |or| |Samaria),| |c.| |375| |-| |333| |B.C.,| |Imitative| |of| |Athens||obol|
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
JD97053. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX-X; SNG ANS 15 ff., aF, toned, squared flan (normal for the type), weight 0.738 g, maximum diameter 8.7 mm, die axis 90o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

|Persian| |Rule|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Philistia| |(Gaza| |or| |Samaria),| |c.| |375| |-| |333| |B.C.,| |Imitative| |of| |Athens||obol|
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS110013. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, F, toned, off center, die wear, tight somewhat squared flan, ragged edge, weight 0.478 g, maximum diameter 8.7 mm, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Classical Numismatic Group, ex Richard L. Horst Collection; $65.00 SALE PRICE $58.50


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 440 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |440| |-| |404| |B.C.,| |Old| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
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.
SL110175. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU, strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6556678-001), weight 17.231 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 440 - 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, AΘΕ downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 138 - 137 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |138| |-| |137| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
In 1961, Margaret Thompson completed her brilliant study, "The New Style Coinage of Athens." At that time, she estimated there were fewer than 8000 new style tetradrachms "above ground."

Thompson catalog numbers indicate the obverse die. Reverses for each obverse are indicated by a letter. For this obverse die, Thompson does not record a reverse with these control letters.
SH75276. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Thompson Athens 303e (letter on Amphora uncertain); Svoronos Athens pl. 40, 2; BMC Attica p. 42, 352 (same); SNG Cop 129 (same), Choice VF, nice style, nice strike, nice toning, contact marks, weight 16.795 g, maximum diameter 30.8 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 138 - 137 B.C.; obverse head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing crested helmet; reverse owl stands right on amphora, A-ΘΕ across upper field divided by head, ΓΛ/AY (magistrate Glaukos) over smaller HP (control or third magistrate) left, EXE (magistrate Echekrates) over bust of Helios right, M (month) on Amphora, all within olive wreath; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 111 - 110 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |111| |-| |110| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
This coin is a die match for plate 74, 701c, but the description for 701c in the text is not this coin. Thompson 702c was struck by these magistrates but has ΣΦ below the amphora. This coin is not described in the text.
SH99545. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson Athens pl. 74, 701c (same dies, not described in the text), HGC 4 1602; magistrates Phanokles, Apollonios, and Sostratos, Choice VF, well centered, bumps, scratches, weight 16.680 g, maximum diameter 30.6 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 111 - 110 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above the visor; reverse A-ΘΕ / ΦANO-KΛHΣ / AΠOΛ/ΛΩNIOΣ / ΣΩ/ΣTP/ATOΣ, owl standing right on amphora on its side, Artemis Phosphoros on right standing facing holding torch transverse right in both hands, Γ on amphora, MΕ under amphora, all within olive wreath; ex Forum (2021), ex CEB Collection; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 138 - 137 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |138| |-| |137| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
In 1961, Margaret Thompson completed her brilliant study, "The New Style Coinage of Athens." At that time, she estimated there were fewer than 8000 new style tetradrachms "above ground."

Thompson catalog numbers indicate the obverse die. Reverses for each obverse are indicated by a letter. For this obverse die, Thompson does not record a reverse with these control letters.
SH26465. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson Athens 294 var. (KT, E not listed); cf. Svoronos Athens pl. 40, 15; SNG Cop -, VF, weight 16.495 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, die axis 0o, obverse head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing crested helmet; reverse A-ΘΕ, owl stands right on amphora, ΓΛAY over smaller KT left, ΕXΕ over bust of Helios right, E on Amphora, all within olive wreath; excellent centering, a little frosty; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 113 - 112 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |113| |-| |112| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
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.
SH62478. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson Athens 673c var. (ΔION), Choice VF, weight 16.867 g, maximum diameter 28.8 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 113 - 112 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above the visor; reverse A-ΘE / EYM/APEI/ΔHΣ / AΛKI/ΔAM / ΔIO, owl standing right on amphora on its side; Triptolemos on right, driving biga of serpents left; B on amphora, ΣO below, all within olive wreath; magistrates Eumareides, Alkidam-, and Dion; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 146 - 145 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |146| |-| |145| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Tetradrachm||stephanophoric| |tetradrachm|
This issue does not appear to have been struck with letters on the amphora.

Thompson catalog numbers indicate the obverse die. Reverses for each obverse are indicated by a letter. For this obverse die, Thompson does not record a reverse with the control letters ΕY.
SH54908. Silver stephanophoric tetradrachm, Thompson 131 var. (EY not listed); Svoronos Athens pl. 43, 3 var. (same obverse die, KTH below on rev), VF, rough cleaning, weight 16.647 g, maximum diameter 32.9 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, obverse head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing crested helmet ornamented with Pegasos and the fore-parts of four or more horses; reverse A-ΘΕ, owl standing right on amphora, wings closed, head facing, XAPI left, ΗPA over cock with palm frond right, ΕY below, all within olive wreath; areas of light corrosion, flat strike areas; scarce; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 138 - 137 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |138| |-| |137| |B.C.,| |New| |Style| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
"New style" tetradrachms were struck by Athens as a semi-autonomous city under Roman rule. Hellenic style replaces the archaic "old-style." The owl is surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols. The letter on the amphora may indicate the month of production. Letters below may indicate the source of the silver. In 1961, Margaret Thompson completed her brilliant study, "The New Style Coinage of Athens." At that time, she estimated there were fewer than 8000 new style tetradrachms "above ground." Thompson catalog numbers indicate the obverse die. Reverses for each obverse are indicated by a letter. For this obverse die, Thompson does not record a reverse with these control letters.
SH77461. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson p. 98, 290a (but obv. die 291); Svoronos Athens pl. 40, 2; SNG Cop 129 ff. var. (controls); BMC Attica p. 42, 352 ff. var. (same), gVF, light corrosion, light marks, weight 16.588 g, maximum diameter 32.5 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 138 - 137 B.C.; obverse head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing crested helmet; reverse owl stands right on amphora, A-ΘΕ across upper field divided by head, ΓΛ/AY (magistrate Glaukos) over smaller ΣΩ (control or third magistrate) left, EXE (magistrate Echekrates) over bust of Helios right, B (month) on Amphora, all within olive wreath; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 233 (6 Oct 2015), lot 1451; SOLD


Tyre, Phoenicia, c. 302 - 301 B.C.

|Phoenicia|, |Tyre,| |Phoenicia,| |c.| |302| |-| |301| |B.C.||didrachm|
This era by which this type was dated is presumably that of Alexander the Great, starting with his conquest of the city in 332 B.C.
SH26477. Silver didrachm, BMC Phoenicia p. 232, 36, VF, weight 8.378 g, maximum diameter 21.4 mm, die axis 0o, Phoenicia, Tyre (Lebanon) mint, c. 302 - 301 B.C.; obverse bearded Melqart riding hippocamp with curled wing to right, waves and dolphin below; reverse owl standing right, head facing, crook and flail behind, date (year 30) in right field; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

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