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    Description

    Impressive Athenian Style, Flan, Pedigree

    ATTICA. Athens. Ca. 510-480 BC. AR tetradrachm (25mm, 17.60 gm, 10h). NGC XF ★ 4/5 - 4/5. Head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet, the crest box ornamented with chevron pattern / AΘΕ, owl standing right with closed wings, head facing, olive sprig behind, all within incuse square. HGC 12, 590. Svoronos pl. 6. Seltman group L, 338-342. Rare, particularly this well made and preserved. Minor reverse metal flaw, otherwise struck on an immense flan, displaying the full head and crest of Athena with plenty of margin to spare, with an owl of great charm.

    Ex Peus 407, (7 November 2012), lot 378 (realized $35,000 hammer); Lawrence Stack Collection (Stack's 14 January 2008), lot 2183; NAC 29, (11 May 2005), lot 181; Leu 77 (2000), lot 205; Henri de Nanteuil Collection (Hess-Leu 45, 1970),  lot 185.


    The earliest "owl" coinage of Athens coincides with the momentous expulsion of the last tyrants and the city's adoption of the world's first democracy. The quality of this coinage veers sharply between dies of remarkable crudity, comprising most of the coins struck, and a limited number of issues displaying great refinement. The great disparity in artistic quality led Seltman to propose an "imperial" mint in the Attic or Thracian hinterlands, staffed by artists of little or no talent, and a "civic" mint whose engravers displayed the full virtues and vigor of archaic art. In the latter category falls this lovely tetradrachm struck in the last decade of the sixth century BC. The head of Athena exhibits a pleasant profile and her lips are drawn into a tight "archaic smile"; also notable are the arrangement of hair along the brow line, so reminiscent of the marble koroi and reliefs that exemplify the era. The helmet is undecorated and the broad crest is defined just enough to suggest horsehair. The reverse owl is likewise a well-proportioned creature, somewhat slimmer than later incarnations and standing proudly erect.


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    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    7th-8th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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