New auction win - An owl imitation from Egypt.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Michael Stolt, Sep 2, 2021.

  1. Michael Stolt

    Michael Stolt Well-Known Member

    So it did not take long until I acquired a third owl :shy: I hammered home this beautiful Egyptian imitation of an Athenian tetradrachm today at the CNG keystone auction.

    The surfaces are not the best, but it still has a very pleasing style, toning and centering.


    EGYPT, Pharaonic Kingdom. Uncertain pharaoh(s). Late 5th–mid 4th centuries BC. AR Tetradrachm (24mm, 17.03 g, 9h). Imitating Athens.

    Obverse: Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye.

    Reverse: Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent to left; all within incuse square.

    References: Van Alfen, Mechanisms, Group III.A.1, Fig. 1 = Buttrey Type B.

    Provenance: From the Robert W. Bartlett Bequest Sold for the Benefit of the American Numismatic Society. Ex Ponterio 18 (26 March 1985), lot 226.
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  3. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Nice pickup! :)
    Michael Stolt likes this.
  4. Michael Stolt

    Michael Stolt Well-Known Member

    Thank you! :)
    happy_collector likes this.
  5. AussieCollector

    AussieCollector Moderator Moderator

    Well done.

    Ignorant question, how can we tell the difference between Egypt (and other) imitations vs. the later owls of Athens (eg 350 - 300 BC style)?
    Michael Stolt likes this.
  6. Broucheion

    Broucheion Well-Known Member

    Hi @AussieCollector,

    Try this site for starters

    - Broucheion
    Michael Stolt and tibor like this.
  7. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    @Michael Stolt I cannot be certain that your owl is in fact Egyptian as it appears to be related to the cover coin featured on the book on Athenian coins authored by Flament Flament_Athenes.jpg As you can see your coin does exhibit the same shape of the eye as well as the small mouth seen on many Flament III coins. This coin one of mine displays some features that are similar. One thing that is more or less consistent with the Flament III's is that the central spike of the palment the floral decoration on the bowl of Athena's helmet is all but at the edge of the helmet.
    Athens Ar Tetradrachm 416-410 BC Obv,, Helmeted head of Athena right. Rv. Owl standing right head facing. Flament III Obv III 16 R III d 17.20 grms 20 mm Photo by W. Hansen athens 13.jpeg In response to @AussieCollector there is a real issue trying to distinguish between the tetradrachms minted at Athens from those minted at either Asian or Egyptian mints. As there is no comprehensive study on the Athenian coinage there are many coins that exist in that happy "grey" area which can be very annoying to numismatists. Thus it does happen that a particular group of coins can wander from being considered to be official to being thought to be imitative and back again. The next two coins I believe to be imitative.
    00846q00.jpg THIS IS NOT MY COIN This coin I believe to be imitative because of the treatment of the eye. It appears to have the outline of a pupil. This I have not seen on the official coins though some of the Flament III;s do have a faint raised pupil. Iam not certain where I found this image kunker97.jpg THIS IS NOT MY COIN This is from a Kunker Auction held a few years ago. This one is easy as there is a letter engraved on the cheek of Athena. This coin is most likely from a Levantine mint.
  8. pprp

    pprp Well-Known Member

    The coin of the OP is clearly Buttrey Type M. It's one of the few cases we can be sure it's an Egyptian imitation because the dies are in Alfen/Buttrey.

    Here's mine which is actually one of my favorite coins.

  9. maridvnvm

    maridvnvm Well-Known Member

    An interesting thread. I have a coin also attributed as Egyptian. It shares many of the attributes with the OP coin.

    Obv:– Head of Athena right, droopy eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and bent-back palmette, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves.
    Rev:– ΑΘΕ, right, owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, all within incuse square;
    Minted in Egypt from . B.C. 420 - 380.
    Reference:– cf. SNG Cop 31 ff., SGCV I 2526 (Athens),

    Ex- Forum Ancient Coins where they graded it VF. The metal did not fill the die completely on the obverse resulting in the rough flat high area near Athena's temple. A test cut on the reverse was filled with pitch in antiquity.

    The silver is quite bright making it relatively tricky to photograph.

    From the Harald Ulrik Sverdrup Collection. Ex CNG. From a small hoard of 5 Athenian and 4 Athenian imitative issues.

    Comment provided by Forum -
    "Athenian tetradrachms with this droopy eye and bent back palmette have been identified as Egyptian imitative issues because they are most frequently found in Egypt and rarely in Greece.

    Early in his reign the Egyptian Pharaoh Hakor, who ruled from 393 to 380 B.C., revolted against his overlord, the Persian King Artaxerxes. In 390 B.C. Hakor joined a tripartite alliance with Athens and King Evagoras of Cyprus. Persian attacks on Egypt in 385 and 383 were repulsed by Egyptian soldiers and Greek mercenaries under the command of the Athenian general Chabrias. Perhaps these coins were struck to pay the general and his Greek mercenaries."

    17.157g, 25.3mm, 270o

  10. Tigermoth1

    Tigermoth1 Active Member

    Thank you for this posting...
    Michael Stolt likes this.
  11. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Looks like I was incorrect. :eek:I must have been seduced by the cover girl on the book written by Flament. This morning :yawn: I had a chance to review some of the work done on this subject by both Van Alfen and Buttrey. So I am pretty well convinced at this point that the coin from @Michael Stolt is an Egyptian imitation
  12. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Nice coins!

    The evolution of the eye is a marker, generally speaking, of the period that a given owl was produced, with the gradual detachment of the lower lid from the upper, first in the front, then at the back of the eye.

    I recently picked up a late classical owl, which I think was produced after 410 BCE.

    D-Camera Athens tetradrachm, after 410 BCE  17.15g Roma 86 240 8-30-21.jpg

    This style of the opening eye carried through the plated emergency coinage of 406-405 BCE.

    D-Camera Athens Plated Tetradrachm, First Owl, c. 406-404 BC, Abt. EF, 5-12-20.jpg

    Now, the OP owl, with the "droopy" eye, is a somewhat controversial coin. Some scholars attribute it to Egypt, where dies were imported from Athens around the time that Athenian coinage collapsed due to the end of the Peloponnesian War, and Athens' defeat and occupation by Sparta. Other scholars, including Kallet and Kroll, contend that the droopy eye owls were produced in Athens, with a cluster of them discovered in a hoard in Attica.

    What is clear about these later classical and intermediate owls, to me, is that their production extended beyond Athens, with many of the imitations fairly faithfully following the Athenian designs and weight standard early one, and then deviating to more localized styles and weights, especially in regions where the Phoenician shekel circulated or where Persian coinage was commonly used. The imitations were widespread, due to the popularity of the owls, and this area of collecting can be challenging and rewarding.

    In reference to Terence's third coin, the Levantine owl, I did purchase one that was in a NGC slab earlier this year, but not attributed, probably because it is dark and somewhat worn, making the Aramaic nun on Athena's cheek a little hard to make out.

    D-Camera Athens Philistia imitation owl, Aramaic nun obv. test cuts 17.2g fine 5-13-21.jpg
    Michael Stolt, Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
  13. Michael Stolt

    Michael Stolt Well-Known Member

    Sorry for the late reply, been a busy week, some great owl's posted!

    I'm still very new to these and lack a lot of reference works still so any inputs and help is always appreciated, thanks all! :)
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