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    Description

    Rare Early Owl

    ATTICA. Athens. Ca. 510-490 BC. AR tetradrachm (22mm, 17.17 gm, 2h). Head of Athena right, wearing earring and crested Attic helmet, hair shown as parallel dotted strands at brow line and nape of neck / Owl standing right, head facing, olive spray to left, A?E reading upward to right, all within incuse square. Svoronos Pl. 6, 1-6. Cf. Seltman Group L, 339. Extremely rare! Struck from dies of remarkably refined archaic style. A pleasing example of this archaic issue. NGC VF 4/5 - 3/5.

    The earliest "owl" coinage of Athens circa 515-500 BC 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 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." The broad helmet crest is defined just enough to suggest horsehair. Of special note is the archaic form of the Greek theta (Θ) used in the inscription, resembling a four-spoked wheel; this also appears to be the only die in the series where the city ethnic reads upward instead of downward.


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    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    3rd-4th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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