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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.

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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |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.
SL97993. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU (Choice about Uncirculated), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-001), weight 17.199 g, maximum diameter 25.7 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 420 - 413 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 Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $2350.00 (€1927.00)
 


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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |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.
SL97988. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch AU (Choice about Uncirculated), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-003), weight 17.196 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 225o, 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, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; ex Classical Numismatic Group, NGC| Lookup; $2350.00 SALE PRICE $2115.00
 


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|NEW
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.
JD97402. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, 269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, dark toning, obverse off center, weight 0.383 g, maximum diameter 6.85 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 visible; ex Goldberg Coins; $150.00 (€123.00)
 


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|NEW
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.
JD97401. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, 269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, dark tone, many cuts - perhaps on the flan before striking, weight 0.705 g, maximum diameter 9.3 mm, die axis 180o, 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 visible; ex Goldberg Coins; $120.00 (€98.40)
 


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 353 - 294 B.C. Pi-Style Triobol or Hemidrachm

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |353| |-| |294| |B.C.| |Pi-Style| |Triobol| |or| |Hemidrachm||triobol| |or| |hemidrachm|NEW
The tetradrachms of Athens are much more common than the smaller denominations. This type was struck both in both the archaic style, from c. 454 - 404 B.C., and this Pi-Style with a normal eye in profile, from c. 353 - 294 B.C.
GS98630. Silver triobol or hemidrachm, Kroll Agora 19e; SNG Cop 70, Svoronos Athens pl. 21, 47; BMC Attica p. 16, 162; HGC 4 1642 (S), F, toned, tight oval flan, bumps and scratches, weight 1.939 g, maximum diameter 13.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 353 - 294 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet ornamented with olive leaves and a pi-style palmette, eye in profile; reverse A/E-Θ (A above center, Θ lower right, E lower left), owl standing facing, olive branch coming down from above on each side, each with five leaves; scarce; $110.00 (€90.20)
 


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, 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; $100.00 (€82.00)
 







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