An Engaging Little Owl

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by robinjojo, Mar 6, 2021.

  1. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    The archaic style owl arrived today, encased in a NGC slab, from which it was promptly removed. Given the irregular shape of the flan both in terms of roundness and in variations of thickness, the coin was at an angle that was quite distracting when viewing, so out it went.

    The archaic tetradrachms do vary widely in terms of the flans, dies, and strikes. This coin, in those respects, is quite typical: a well-centered strike, a "dumpy" irregular flan with flaws (especially on the reverse), worn dies, rough surfaces (more on the obverse than reverse), and an overall crude appearance. Compared to many of the later emissions of the Athens mint, this coin doesn't hold a candle in terms refinement and beauty.

    All things said, this coin has a very nice owl, peering quizzically at us. While this coin is not in the mega-bucks category of archaic owls, it is, in its own way, quite appealing.

    Athens, circa 510/500-480 BC
    AR Tetradrachm
    Obverse: Athena facing right, wearing an archaic helmet and an earring.
    Reverse: Owl leaning slightly right, AΘE to the right, olive sprig to the left.
    Seltman Group C
    17.42 grams

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm archaic c. 510-500-480 BC 17.42g  engaging owl  3-6-21.jpg

    Given the crude nature of this coin, I think it belongs to the period after Marathon, 490 BC, and before the second Persian invasion of 480 BC.

    Post you owls and anything else you wish. This owl is kinda lonely.

    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Thats a very old wise owl, congrats Robin

  4. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you.

    And thank you for posting a very nice tetradrachm!
  5. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I love it! I still haven't landed an archaic owl, but I would definitely like to get one.

    Something I did manage to get recently, on the cheap, is this Starr Group II owl:
    These were the first coins issued after the victories at Salamis and Plataea, reflected in the appearance of the olive leaf decoration on Athena's helmet and the crescent moon beside the owl. (The countermark and chisel mark – not a test cut, it doesn't go all the way to the edge – are characteristic of owls that circulated in the near east.) I wish the owl had wonderful eyes, like yours!

    The seller listed it as an ordinary mass produced owl so I got it for 200 EUR.
  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    LOL, that Owl is GREAT, @robinjojo ! VERY engaging!

    I have several owls, but this one of mine has the only really intriguing look. And, I think Athena is just ga-ga for the owl!

    Athens Attica 454-404 BCE ARr hemidrachm 16mm 2.08g Athena frontal eye - facing Owl wings closed olive branches COP 70 SG 2528
  7. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Nice! That's a very elusive coin, a true Group 2 example.

    I have seen so many other tetradrachms assigned to the wrong Starr group, at auction and on retail sites, probably because many are hard to nail down to a particular group.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  8. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Nice example! The reverse design was later used at Gaza for an extremely rare imitative tetradrachm that fetches big bucks at auction.
    Alegandron likes this.
  9. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thank you. I was not aware.
  10. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Here's one that sold at Triton XXII, Lot: 386, with a $75,000 estimate, for a fair amount of pocket change, $325,000 to be precise (not including buyer's fee, of course).

    Circa 425-400 BC

    17.10 grams

    Philistina  Imitation Tetradrachm CNG 2nd finest known, 17.10g Triton XXII, Lot 386 325000K.jpg

    I was mistaken regarding the Gaza attribution. Actually the tetradrachm above and the drachm below are attributed to Philistia, a larger geographic area comprising Palestine.

    Here's the drachm from the same auction, lot 387, which hammered for $32,500 on a $20,000 estimate.

    Circa 425-400 BC

    3.96 grams

    Philistina  Imitation drachm CNG , 3.96g Triton XXII, Lot 387 32500K.jpg


    I found one more super rare Philistia tetradrachm, this time offered through Heritage. It seems not to have sold at auction:
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
  11. scottishmoney

    scottishmoney Unwell Unknown Unmembered Supporter

  12. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice archaic owl, @robinjojo

    My archaic example has a super big cut on it, but nice that some detail remains. You have seen my second owl. Off-center piece, but at least no test cut. Maybe I'll be eventually get a more decent piece when the prices are better. o_O
    Owl01.jpg Owl02.jpg
  13. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Test cut aside, your two archaic tetradrachms are really nice - much better metal quality than is often encountered and the detail for both coins is outstanding. My crude owl is, I think, far more common for this type.

    As for prices, yes, they are on the ascent, with high hammer prices as well as high retail prices.

    This is a very problematic series, and as it is with much of the Athenian coinage of the 6th - 4th centuries BC, it is still a work in progress, especially in terms of dating.
    happy_collector likes this.
  14. Di Nomos

    Di Nomos Well-Known Member

    Nice coin robinjojo, I really like the archaic Athens tetradrachms. Yours is very well centred and has a similar hair style to mine.

    I've shown this one on here before. It was pricey of course, but reasonable when compared to it's previous sale. I wanted one with a fairly complete helmet crest and reasonable style. Happy I took the plunge.

    Athens Tetradrachm.png
  15. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Very cool example! :)
    robinjojo and Di Nomos like this.
  16. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That is an exceptional archaic owl in every respect.

    I think that if I only had one archaic tetradrachm, that coin would be the hands down choice.

    This is another one that I have shown before as well. It's not long on beauty by any means, but it is quirky, with its backwards reverse and buggy-eye owl seeming to be dancing a gigue.

    17.8 grams

    D-Camera Athens, tetradrachm, 510-480 BC, reversed ethnic and olive leaves, 17.8 g, 3-6-21.jpg
  17. Di Nomos

    Di Nomos Well-Known Member

    Thanks, I appreciate that you like my coin. It's certainly one I'm proud to own.

    Not that I would swap, but I do like this tetradrachm of yours with the unusual reverse too. If I remember correctly, you also showed another archaic owl a few weeks ago that you purchased from HJB in the 80's. (Hope it was you). That was a beauty too. You have a nice collection of archaic owls.
    robinjojo likes this.
  18. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you. It has taken about 30 years to acquire these archaic tetradrachms, though I must say the pace rapidly picked up starting around 2018. The limitation for me is the expense plus the fact that many are very crude and unappealing.

    An interesting aspect of the archaic Athenian owls is that there are indications that they were imitated, probably in the Levante or Egypt.

    Here's one example, that sold through MA Shops. I was interested in purchasing it, but another buyer beat me to it.

    17.12 grams

    Imitation Athens tetradrachm c. 510-480 BC 17.12 grams, Svoronos Taf.6 MA Shops 2021.jpg

    Needless to say this is a controversial coin. I would imagine that it would be called a copy, fake, or not genuine, due to its deviations from classical archaic designs, specifically the crest, eye and the somewhat flat styling of the owl.
    Curtisimo, Bing and Di Nomos like this.
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