An Unusual Owl

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by robinjojo, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    I found this coin on Vcoins a few weeks back, and purchased it because of its unusual features. As some of you might know by now, I am attracted to the weird, off-beat and downright odd coinage, especially imitative coinage. I guess this is part of the aging process. I can't even imagine what coins will be purchased in the future.

    So, here is a tetradrachm, of Athenian design. The basic elements are present for a transitional coin, before mass production commenced after 449 BC.

    However, there are some differences.

    On the obverse, the portrait style looks decidedly un-Athenian. There is also some double striking and pretty crude die work. Additionally there is an apparent counterstamp that looks a lot like the Loch Ness monster. It certainly has a serpentine quality to it.

    The reverse owl appears to be very much in the style of Starr Group V.A, with its elongated body and three distinct tail feathers. However, the olive leaves do not connect to the stem of the olive, as would be expected. The ethnic is in the style of a Starr Group V.A owl, but is very blotchy due to what I believe is die rust, which is evident elsewhere on the reverse and obverse for that matter.

    This coin weights 17.00 grams, 24 mm wide, and the reverse orientation is 9 h.

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm, possible imitation, 5th-4-th cen. BC, 17.00 g., 10-21-20.jpg

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm, possible imitation, 5th-4-th cen. BC, Detail., 10-21-20.jpg

    For comparison, here is the reverse of one of my Starr Group V owls.

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm, Starr Group 5A, reverse, 10-21-20.jpg

    So, are there any thoughts?

    My guess is that it is a Group V owl, with a crude obverse.

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  3. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Double struck Athena portrait... that surely is something very unusual. Haven't seen one before. Maybe due to die shift?
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  4. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

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  5. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    By Jove you're right!

    I thought this coin looked familiar. Aside from the counterstamp and double struck obverse, this coin is a match with the Goldberg auction example.

    I noticed that the Goldberg coin was attributed as a Starr Group II. It obviously isn't, instead being a Starr Group V coin.

    Thank you
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  6. Carl Wilmont

    Carl Wilmont Supporter! Supporter

    That is an interesting Athenian tetradrachm, @robinjojo!

    Two Athena/Owl tetradrachms and an obol:

    athens tetradrachm.jpg
    Athens Tetradrachm #2.jpg
    Athens Obol.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
    Edessa, PeteB, Johndakerftw and 5 others like this.
  7. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    You are welcome!
    I also agree that the coin should be a Starr Group V.
  8. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    One more question: Do you think the area below the eye is a counterstamp or an impression from the double strike? I lean towards the former; it seems quite deliberate and I cannot think of a corresponding part of the obverse die that would create this angular field with what appears to be a serpent or snake.

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
  9. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    I agree with you. That area surely look like a counterstamp.
  10. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

  11. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Dears @robinjojo @happy_collector : I noticed both coins in Pars/Goldberg and actually had to sit on my hand to refrain from bidding :)

    First of all I don't think this coin belongs to any STARR group because it's not Athenian, it's rather an Eastern imitation.

    I also believe it was struck 3 times, I tried to mark the sequence in the photo below. Very interesting coin @robinjojo I am happy it went to someone who appreciates it.

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm, possible imitation, 5th-4-th cen. BC, Detail., 10-21-20.jpg
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  12. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter


    I didn't consider a triple strike, and that is a definite possibility. There is a field of sorts below the eye, and that led me to think that there is a counterstamp in that area. On the other hand there is an almost perfect symmetry to the alignment of the lines below the eye. In order for a counterstamp to be applied so perfectly, a lot of skill and luck would be needed.

    The coin's obverse is really quite different from the style of the transitional owls. The alignment and style of the eye is quite different, the nose is very pointed, the general relief seems lower compared to other owls, and elements of the helmet's design seems heavier and less refined.

    So, yes, this and the Goldberg coin could very well be an imitation, possibly an early Egyptian one?
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