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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |Greece| ▸ |Athens||View 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, 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; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 465 - 454 B.C., Transitional Early "Old Style" Tetradrachm

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This rare transitional early "old style" type features the most attractive owls of the entire Athenian tetradrachm series.
SH86209. Silver tetradrachm, Starr Group V.B, Series 2, 180; Svoronos Athens pl. 10, 9; HGC 4 1596 (R2); SNG Cop -, Choice VF, well centered and struck with high relief dies, superb owl, tight flan cutting off most of crest as usual for the type, bumps and marks, uneven hoard toning, weight 17.143 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 180o, Athens mint, c. 465 - 454 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 robust owl standing right, head facing, tail composed of three short feathers, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; rare; SOLD


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.
SH90226. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 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

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.
SH54920. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 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. 454 - 449 B.C., Very Early "Old Style" Tetradrachm

Click for a larger photo
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 heaves on Athena's helmet, and the robust owl. It is very likely this coin was among the earliest of the classical "old style" tetradrachms of the c. 454 - 404 B.C. issues.
GS87208. 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, aEF, bold high relief, flow lines, light toning, bumps and marks, tight flan, mild die wear, slight double strike on obverse, tiny edge cracks, weight 17.175 g, maximum diameter 23.5 mm, die axis 75o, 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

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Struck during Athens' Golden Age, when great thinkers, writers, and artists flourished in the city. Herodotus, the father of history, lived and wrote in Athens. Socrates, the father of philosophy, taught in the marketplace. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, practiced there. The sculptor Phidias created his great works for the Parthenon on the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Democritus envisioned an atomic universe. Aeschylus, Euripedes, Aristophanes, and Sophocles wrote their famous plays and Pindar his Odes. This legacy would continue as, later, Plato would found his Academy outside the walls of Athens in 385 B.C. and, later, Aristotle would found his Lyceum in the city center.
SH57447. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, gVF, weight 17.081 g, maximum diameter 25.4 mm, die axis 135o, 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; ex CNG; toned, even light porosity, light graffito on cheek, well centered on a broad flan; SOLD


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 86 - 84 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm, Issued by Sulla

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On 1 March 86 B.C., after a 5 month siege, Sulla began his midnight sack of Athens. The city had been occupied by the forces of Mithridates VI of Pontus under the command of Archelaus. Blood was said to have literally flowed in the streets, it was only after the entreaties of a couple of his Greek friends (Midias and Calliphon) and the pleas of the Roman Senators in his camp that Sulla decided enough was enough. This issue was struck for Sulla, either at Athens or outside Athens during the siege, to pay his legions and expenses during the war against Mithradates. The silver was collected from Greeks who supported the Romans against Mithradates and requisitioned from the sacred temple treasuries at Epidaurus, Olympia and Delphi. The ancients admired these Roman-Athenian coins and called them "flats of Lucullan." The MARKOY monogram may refer to Marcus the brother of the Roman general and politician Lucullus.
SH70948. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Thompson Athens 1293; Svoronos Athens pl. 78, 11; Dewing 1653; Boehringer AMUGS V, pp. 28-31 and pl. 9, 10; Kraay-Hirmer pl. 120, 366, gVF, attractive style, well struck, nicely toned, centered on a crowded slightly irregular shape flan, weight 16.581 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 86 - 84 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above visor; reverse owl standing right on amphora on its side right, head facing, MARKOY monogram left, TAMIOY monogram right, A on amphora, all within olive wreath; ex John Jencek; rare; SOLD


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

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.
SH87209. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice aEF, excellent centering with near full crest, beautiful owl, toned, small edge cracks, weight 16.988 g, maximum diameter 25.48 mm, die axis 0o, 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; SOLD


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

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.
GS87216. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, Choice aEF, well centered and struck, full length of the crest, some luster, light toning, some obverse die wear, edge cracks, weight 17.174 g, maximum diameter 23.9 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; SOLD


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

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.
SL85595. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG München 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC MS, strike 5/5, surface 3/5 (4377469-089), well centered, bold strike, some light marks, weight 17.18 g, maximum diameter 24 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 owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; NGC certified (slabbed); ex Heritage Auction 231729, lot 63023; SOLD




  




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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 (New York, 1992).
Filipova, S. Coin Collections and Coin Hoards from Bulgaria, Numismatic Collection of the Regional Historical Museum at Pazardzhik. CCCHBulg V. (Sophia, 2015).
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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).
Hoover, O. Handbook of Coins of Northern and Central Greece: Achaia Phthiotis...Attica, Megaris, and Corinthia, Sixth to First Centuries BC, HGC 4. (Lancaster, PA, 2014).
Kroll, J. The Greek Coins. The Athenian Agora, vol. XXVI. (Princeton, 1993).
Kroll, J. "The Reminting of Athenian Silver Coinage, 353 B.C.," Hesperia, Vol. 80. (2011).
Kraay, C. Coins of Ancient Athens. Minerva Numismatic Handbooks No. 2. (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1968).
Lindgren, H. & F. Kovacs. Ancient Bronze Coins of Asia Minor and the Levant. (San Mateo, 1985).
Mildenberg, L. & S. Hurter, eds. The Dewing Collection of Greek Coins. ACNAC 6. (New York, 1985).
Mørkholm, O. "The Chronology of the New Style Silver Coinage of Athens" in ANSMN 29. (New York, 1984).
Nicolet-Pierre, H & J. Kroll. "Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the Third Century BC," AJN 2 (1990). pp. 1-35.
Robinson, E. & G. Jenkins. A Catalogue of the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection of Greek Coins. (Lisboa, 1971-89).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Seltman, C. Athens, its history and coinage before the Persian invasion. (Cambridge, 1924).
Sverdrup, H. 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, Vol. 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. "A New Athenian 'Owl' and Bullion Hoard from the Near East" in AJN 16 - 17 (2004-05). pp. 47-61, pl. 6-17.

Catalog current as of Wednesday, October 23, 2019.
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Athens Greek Coins