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    Description

    Exceptional Archaic Owl

    ATTICA. Athens. Ca. 500-480 BC. AR tetradrachm (22mm, 16.19 gm, 8h).  Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with bowl unadorned save for single rosette near neck guard, hair shown in parallel dotted plaits along forehead / Owl standing right, head facing, olive sprig to left; [A]-ΘE to right; all within incuse square. Seltman Group Gii. Svoronos pl. 5, 5. A truly exceptional example of the archaic Athenian coinage, deeply struck in sound metal. NGC AU? 5/5 - 5/5.

    The Athenian "owl" silver tetradrachm is unquestionably one of the most influential coins of all time. During the fifth century BC, when Athens emerged as the greatest of all Greek cities, owls were the most widely used international coin and helped to spread Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean world. The heyday of Athens, between 510 and 400 BC, witnessed the birth of democracy, the building of the Parthenon, the emergence of Classical art and sculpture, and the origins of Western literature. Never before or since has one city contributed so much to human progress. Coinciding with the fall of the Peisistratid tyranny and the introduction of democracy in ca. 511 BC, the Athenian "owl" tetradrachms were introduced and became and archetype that would last nearly half a millennium. The earliest "owls" display remarkably crude workmanship and poor production standards, surprising given Athens' position as the foremost Greek city in terms of artistic achievement. This present example is actually an outstanding specimen of this early phase of production, with a well-centered head of Athena and a bold, well-struck owl, putting it in the top 5% for Athenian coins of this era.


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    13th Thursday
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