In search of a Starr Group V owl.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by tartanhill, May 11, 2020.

  1. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    I have two Athens owls of the more common variety and have been searching for a Starr Group V. When searching the various auction houses on line, I use four criteria to determine if an owl pictured is the Group V I am looking for. I look for an owl whose head is not horizontal but noticeably tilted forward. I look for three separated tail feathers rather than three that are attached. I look for ΑΘΕ in small letters rather than the larger letters of later varieties. And I look for a longer trailing claw on the owl's back foot. The owl below shows what I consider a proper Starr Group V owl.

    [​IMG]

    In the just ended Roma auction, there were three owls that drew my attention until I applied my four criteria. All three were described as Starr Group V owls.
    The three are shown below.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The first of the three I ruled out right away because it fits none of my criteria. The second and third have the owl's head tilted and somewhat smaller lettering but not the three separate tail feathers ( Which I think is the main telltale - no pun intended.) And the trailing claw is the shorter variety.

    All of this brings me to my question to CT members who specialize in Athens owls. Is the criteria I am using valid, or am I assuming some things I should not be assuming? If my criteria are correct, why would a major auction house make such an error in its description? Any comments welcomed.
     
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest



    to hide this ad.
  3. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    The first one is out of question, it is mass coinage; I have some reservations whether it even is an eastern imitation but not the time to analyse this.

    The other 2 probably fall in the period between Group V and mass coinage. They are definitely not Group V.

    Edit: here's my example from this intermediate period.

    ath1.jpg

    ath2.jpg
     
  4. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    Thank you, pprp. That was my feeling too. They are not Starr Group V coins but are a transition variety. My other question is why Roma would misrepresent these coins. The first one is obviously not a Starr V.
     
  5. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Having read the analysis the owner wrote for a Starr III/IV in one of their floor auctions, I doubt he isn't knowledgeable on the topic. So I guess that the cataloguing of esales falls with the subordinates who probably don't know. They probably copied the description for similar coins from HA that also describes such coins as Group V. I doubt they do it intentionally as they can fool no one who would be interested in getting a V or a IV as such collectors know what to look for...
     
  6. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Interesting observation, @pprp. It surely looks like the cataloger just copy a template from another Starr V onto one that doesn't look like a Mass Classical Owl.

    Heritage seems to be better on this. They catalog the Starr V (and Starr IV) as 465-455 BC, while the intermediates as 455-440 BC.
     
    pprp likes this.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I most sincerely believe that too many people assume that just because a business is huge and employs a lot of 'experts' that anyone involved knows or cares about things like this. There is also the matter that the mint did not blow a whistle one day and declare that they were finished with one type and moving on the the next. Starr groups are digital; coins are analog. I believe in the three tail feathers as the deal breaker in this case so would not want any of the three coins were I wanting a V. I can see how others would accept the last two but not the first. Still, I agree with pprp:
    If someone bids on the coin that is clearly described in error, the fault is also on them.

    I'll never have a Group V tet but I am happy to have my obol with feathers as best as could be expected on a beat up coin that size. I have never seen a mint state one but, if one exists, it should sell for more than the common large coin so I'll not have it either. Mine was from NFA in 1990 where it was described as ex Tucker coll. but no mention made of the style which I thought obvious from the head tilt. With today's better photos, we should get fewer surprises based on sellers not knowing or not caring. I would like to know if 'Tucker' cared. I will point out that CNG has sold early obols identified to Group.
    g41220fd0461.jpg
     
  8. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    I think your criteria on Starr V is correct. A more-rounded earlier owl design, with 3 separate feathers defines a V from the intermediate Owls.

    Here is my Starr V example.
    Attica01.jpg
     
  9. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    This is my latest Owl example. I have no idea of which Starr group it may belong.

    ATTICA ATHENS 3.png
     
  10. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coin, happy_collector. Just what I'm looking for. I forgot about the "fat owl" design also identifying the variety.
     
  11. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Since we're in the topic, here's one of my IV's as well.

    IV.jpg
     
  12. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Yes, the lovely "fat owl" design is a good indicator of pre-Mass Classical.

    On the other hand, there are some with "fat owl" design, but the tail feather is in one piece rather than 3. Obverse still shows the lovely Athena archaic smile though. I think this type lies in between Starr V and intermediate Owls.

    Here is an example I acquired recently.
    Attica03-small.jpg
     
  13. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Wonderful IV, @pprp. Really like Athena's characteristic archaic smile.
     
  14. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    Another question. How do you tell a IV from a V?
     
    pprp and Brian Bucklan like this.
  15. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    I think the wide floral scroll (spiral palmette) on Athena's helmet indicates yours as a Mass Classical example. The floral on earlier examples is either smaller or narrower.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
    Bing likes this.
  16. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    Compare happy_collector's Group V with my Group IV; look at the hair on Athena's forehead o_O
     
  17. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    I think the olive leaves design on Athena's helmet is also a major indicator of Group IV. The 3 olive leaves in Group V do not show their stems, while those in Group IV do.
     
  18. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    So is just the change in hairline the difference?
     
  19. tartanhill

    tartanhill Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Asked my other ? before seeing your answer.
     
    happy_collector likes this.
  20. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Here's what I am pretty sure is an imitative tetradrachm of Athens. It came in a NGC holder, with the reverse appearing in front, apparently because there's a small scratch on the cheek. I'm a purist and believe that a coin should be viewed with the obverse first, regardless of any flaws. So, I cracked the slab open and removed the coin. Since then the coin has started to toned over, so, while the scratch is still visible, it does not stand out as much as when the coin was all shiny and "beautified" through the cleaning process.

    This coin, by the way, was part of the "Parliament Collection", so it is very likely from the gigantic hoard of Athenian tetradrachm that came out of Turkey.

    This coin weighs 16.8 grams, and is approximately 23.5 mm in diameter. The reverse to obverse orientation is 5 h. The date is c. 440 BC, perhaps a bit later.

    The style of this tetradrachm is interesting. It definitely has "eastern" characteristics, but it also seems to have been patterned after an earlier design, possibly an early post Starr Group V mass production coin.

    The execution of this coin was done with great care and the portrait of Athena is bold and expressive (in a very eastern way), something that look for in this type. The owl, too, is well done, leaning to the right, peering at us through the ages and in relative high relief, in keeping with the style of the early mass production owls. There is also a die chip just above the owl.

    I am hoping to post a thread in the near future that centers on the coinage of the Peloponnesian War.

    D-Camera Imitation Athens Tetradrachm, 16.8 grams, Scratch on Cheek, 5-11-20.jpg
     
  21. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    That's a very nice example. Would you say it dates around 450-440 BC? It must predate the start of the Peloponnesian War.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page