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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.

Gaza, Palestine, Mid Fifth Century - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Gaza,| |Palestine,| |Mid| |Fifth| |Century| |-| |333| |B.C.,| |Imitative| |of| |Athens||drachm|
This type, imitative of Athens, was struck in Gaza under Persian rule.
SL98132. Silver drachm, HGC 10 537(R2), Gitler and Tal V.16Da-d, AU, strike 5/5, surface 2/5, countermark (6157926-003), weight 3.456 g, maximum diameter 16.7 mm, die axis 180o, Gaza mint, Persian rule, mid Fifth century - 333 B.C.; obverse Helmeted head of Athena right, 'Ayin' countermark on cheek; reverse Owl standing right, head facing, AΘE (Athens) on right; among the finest known examples of the type, first example of this type handled by Forum, NGC| Lookup; very rare; $2200.00 SALE PRICE $1980.00


Persian Empire, Gaza, Philistia, c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

|Judaea| |&| |Palestine|, |Persian| |Empire,| |Gaza,| |Philistia,| |c.| |375| |-| |333| |B.C.,| |Imitative| |of| |Athens||hemiobol|
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.
JD97404. Silver hemiobol, Gitler-Tal 4.3.V.10HO; SNG ANS 21, cf. Sofaer Gaza 7 (obol), Samaria Hoard 324 - 328 (no Θ left), VF, dark tone, die wear, weight 0.263 g, maximum diameter 6.2 mm, die axis 0o, 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 above Θ on left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; more attractive in hand than in the greatly enlarged photos, ex Goldberg Coins; rare; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00


Tauromenion, Sicily, c. 200 - 150 B.C.

|Other| |Sicily|, |Tauromenion,| |Sicily,| |c.| |200| |-| |150| |B.C.||AE| |17|NEW
Taormina is between Messina and Catania, 250 m above the sea, on the steep slopes of Mt. Tauro. A necropolis proves Tauromenion was first a Sikel stronghold. The Greek city was founded in 358 B.C. by descendants of the Naxians, whose city on the shore below had been destroyed by Dionysios of Syracuse in 403. Tauromenion flourished under Rome, especially after Augustus founded a colony in 30 B.C.
GI99200. Bronze AE 17, Calciati III p. 225, 39; SNG Cop 945; Winterthur I 1046; HGC 2 1598 (R1); SNG ANS -, F, dark green patina, light deposits, areas of mild porosity, weight 4.441 g, maximum diameter 16.9 mm, die axis 180o, Tauromenion (Taormina, Sicily) mint, c. 200 - 150 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing a crested Corinthian helmet; reverse TAYPOMENITAN, owl standing half right, head facing; rare; $100.00 SALE PRICE $90.00


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; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00


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.
SL97987. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC Ch MS (Choice Mint State), strike 5/5, surface 5/5 (6156171-006), weight 17.198 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 90o, 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; SOLD


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

|Athens|, |Athens,| |Attica,| |Greece,| |c.| |454| |-| |449| |B.C.,| |Very| |Early| |"Old| |Style"| |Tetradrachm||tetradrachm|
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 Munchen 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; SOLD


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.
SH90226. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, gEF, weight 17.184 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 180o, 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; ex Heritage CICF World and Ancient Coins Signature Auction 3032, lot 23180; ex The Dr. Patrick Tan Collection; SOLD


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.
SH54920. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, gVF, well centered, weight 17.167 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 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; 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. (∆ION), 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/∆HΣ / AΛKI/∆AM / ∆IO, 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. 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.
SH96812. 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−ΘE / 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, ME under amphora, all within olive wreath; from the CEB Collection; SOLD







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