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my first Athenian owl


Nerosmyfavorite68
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This budget example is my first Athenian Tetradrachm.

My question; is it official Athens or a contemporary Egyptian/Middle Eastern imitation? 

8isSJTs7ac4WZ9pA5oXbqF2z6SPwLM.jpg.a701da2686386b56f30bc88a2aca95e2.jpg

ATTICA, Athens. Circa 454-404 BC. AR Tetradrachm (24 mm, 16,73 g, ). Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye / Owl standing right, head facing, closed tail feathers; olive spray and crescent to left; all within incuse square. Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597.

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That's great! Congrats on your first Athena/owl tetradrachm. What a classic coin!

Yours is quite nice for a "budget" version - a small-ish planchet perhaps (possibly clipped or shaved a bit?) but the image of Athena is 100% there, even some helmet crest. And the reverse is also well-struck. Somebody really had it in for the poor owl though! 😉

 

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And the graffiti to the right of the owl, XLI?

I'm not a huge fan of the later, folded versions.  Those would have been my options had not this one popped up. It was about the same price range as the Mazaios.

It's not bad for 200 Euros.  Even decrepit fourree examples were going for more than that.

 

Edited by Nerosmyfavorite68
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2 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

This budget example is my first Athenian Tetradrachm.

My question; is it official Athens or a contemporary Egyptian/Middle Eastern imitation? 

8isSJTs7ac4WZ9pA5oXbqF2z6SPwLM.jpg.a701da2686386b56f30bc88a2aca95e2.jpg

ATTICA, Athens. Circa 454-404 BC. AR Tetradrachm (24 mm, 16,73 g, ). Helmeted head of Athena right, with frontal eye / Owl standing right, head facing, closed tail feathers; olive spray and crescent to left; all within incuse square. Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597.

Gratulation… Long time enjoy with this beautiful 😍 

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Well, looking at the styling of the portrait, with the thick lips and nose, along with the crude letters with very wide spacing, (with the A or Alpha level with the owl's head) and a  on the reverse, I'd be inclined to say that owl is an eastern imitation.  There really isn't any signs of an incuse on the reverse, either  The weight also leans in that direction.  

I thought your owl might match one of the  Buttrey/Flament types illustrated in Peter G. Van Alfen's "The Owls' From The 1989 Syria Hoard, With A Review of Pre-Macedonian Coinage in Egypt" (1989), but I don't see a convincing match.  It might be at Type M, the most common type appearing on the market, based on my experience, but then again it might be from another source.  Not much is known about these imitations, except that they were widely minted, especially following the fall of Athens in 404 BC.

The Van Alfen article is long, but worth a read:

https://www.scribd.com/document/296629916/The-owls-from-the-1989-Syria-hoard-with-a-review-of-pre-Macedonian-coinage-in-Egypt-Peter-G-van-Alfen

The letter on the obverse, on Athena's cheek might be a Phoenician W, punched on its side. 

Phoenician alphabet - Wikipedia
 

Overall that's a very nice owl, with a well centered strike for such a narrow flan.  Congrats!

Edited by robinjojo
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Ok, thanks! Still isn't bad for 200 Euros.  One usually doesn't see even the most decrepit one that cheap.

It *might* be my first owl. I could have sworn that dad got me a nice one for birthday/Christmas a few years back.  I even remember thinking, my first owl.  But he, who has a good memory, says no, but he mentioned that they had a horribly expensive owl.  I also can't find any owl, so I guess false memory...  I'm usually good about remembering events.

 

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8 hours ago, robinjojo said:

Well, looking at the styling of the portrait, with the thick lips and nose, along with the crude letters with very wide spacing, (with the A or Alpha level with the owl's head) and a  on the reverse, I'd be inclined to say that owl is an eastern imitation.  There really isn't any signs of an incuse on the reverse, either  The weight also leans in that direction.  

I thought your owl might match one of the  Buttrey/Flament types illustrated in Peter G. Van Alfen's "The Owls' From The 1989 Syria Hoard, With A Review of Pre-Macedonian Coinage in Egypt" (1989), but I don't see a convincing match.  It might be at Type M, the most common type appearing on the market, based on my experience, but then again it might be from another source.  Not much is known about these imitations, except that they were widely minted, especially following the fall of Athens in 404 BC.

The Van Alfen article is long, but worth a read:

https://www.scribd.com/document/296629916/The-owls-from-the-1989-Syria-hoard-with-a-review-of-pre-Macedonian-coinage-in-Egypt-Peter-G-van-Alfen

The letter on the obverse, on Athena's cheek might be a Phoenician W, punched on its side. 

Phoenician alphabet - Wikipedia
 

Overall that's a very nice owl, with a well centered strike for such a narrow flan.  Congrats!

Excellent analysis and I agree with your conclusions and at that price this is quite a find and a bargain to boot.

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Congratulations for an iconic ancient coin!

I don't have any Athens tetradrachms as the examples I like are our of my league and it's difficult to find a decent example with a decent price (now decent is an abstract term...)

By coincidence, I saw one today going in an auction I participated in. 200 EUR + taxes and not bad.

image.png.2af24112f8fb64e702e050347b392fb9.png

I did not bid on it because I had other targets I barely got (and more expensive than I expected, oh well).

Here is my only Athens owl:

image.png.63bb76b113077c22f81865a252635f87.png

Attica. Athens circa 454-404 BC.
Hemiobol AR

6 mm., 0,27 g.

Obv. Helmeted head of Athena right.  Rev. AΘΕ ; Owl right head facing, wings folded, olive-leaf and berry behind, all within an incuse square.   Sear SG 2531

 

Being a very smalll coin, the surfaces are more pleasing in hand. I would have preferred a better centering of course, but in the end it was a good addition for 25 EUR including fees.

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I have a couple that I posted here before that have seen travel in the Middle East or the Levant, given their chisel marks. These were something like $US 200 each, so I guess same ballpark as your coin...

IMG_0322.JPG.dc9bc9981fbebf5443b2568d3f4b3fed.JPGIMG_0324.JPG.ce85832564fb3b0042fccb4d67e33e65.JPG

 

I bought a nicer one a bit earlier with less wear and no punch marks for EUR 355 (sorry for the size; can't seem to figure out how to make them smaller).

eur355_Mine.jpg.e1a8a822a532262f8eb703cba1680a95.jpgeur355r_mine.jpg.a51878da11d17d6caa9be10e76e3b909.jpg

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image.png.eb54aecac28b548e553ef95beed06d34.png

Attica Owl, Tetradrachm of the Attica Period 454/404 BC, Material: Silver, Diameter: 23.80mm, Weight: 17.17g, Mint: Athen, Reference: HGC 4, 1597; SNG Copenhagen 31; SNG München 49; Kroll 8. Obverse: Head of Athena right, wearing earring, necklace with pendants, and crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl. Reverse: Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent to left, AΘE to right; all within incuse square.
 
 
 
Edited by Prieure de Sion
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I like the small nominals. The perfect addition for your nice first Tet.

Tritetartemorion, Hemiobol, Obol

 

normal_G_302_Athens.jpg.a987ba818771ab1c540da749c1de7cbd.jpg

Attica. Athens
Tritetartemorion (454-404 BC)
Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right.
Rev: A Θ Ε within three crescents
Ag, 6mm, 0.48g
Ref.: Kroll 21b, SNG Copenhagen 57

 

G_294_Athens_fac.jpg.51dc12bee66bf939edce1a28ca6dde0f.jpg

Attica. Athens
Hemiobol (after 449)
Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right.
Rev: A Θ Ε, Owl standing right, olive spring.
Ag, 0.33g, 7mm
Ref.: Kroll 14, SNG Copenhagen 59
Ex E.E. Clain-Stefanelli collection
photographic image (top) and electron microscopic image (bottom)

 

normal_G_376_Athens.jpg.ef41f3eae7ed249fcd647a71c2758075.jpg

Attica. Athens
Obol (after 449)
Obv: Head of Athena to right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves and palmette
Rev: AΘE Owl standing right, head facing; to left, olive leaf and fruit; all within incuse square.
Ag, 9 mm, 0.69 g, 3 h
Ref.: Kroll 13

 

 

Edited by shanxi
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I enjoy imitatives...

Arabia Felix. Sabaean Kingdom, circa late 3rd century BC. AR Half Unit (13mm, 2.05g, 8h). Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right; Γ on cheek. Rev: AΘE; Owl standing right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent behind. Ref: Munro-Hay 1.1ii; HGC 10, 727.

image.jpeg.ec05b9df2b669dc43486e47f98bc0e19.jpeg

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Congratulations, @Nerosmyfavorite68!  I'm on your page about how much fun it is to finally get one of these.  @CPK gave me a really generous deal on one just lately.  It might have been the very first sale from The Cabinet, and got some attention on the related thread.

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The test cuts and banker's marks on both our examples are cool in their own idiosyncratic way; I'm a fan of Viking Age 'peck marks,' too.  And the international dimension couldn't be more integral to what the series was all about.

Edited by JeandAcre
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Nice owls! 

I've looked at the obols being offered in recent auctions, and been sorely tempted to place bids, but my limited funds prohibit that, so I continue to concentrate on Athenian owls and their imitations, especially the latter, since I have quite a few of the former.

Here are a few owls with what I believe (always that caveat) with Paleo Hebrew, Phoenician and possible Aramaic characters (countermarks and die incorporated).

Athens, tetradrachm, 440-404 BC, with a Paleo-Hebrew 'Taw' countermark on the obverse.  From Roma E-Sale 100, lot 133.

17.18 grams

Given the mint state or near mint state of this coin, it is clear that after the countermark was applied, it was kept out of circulation for some reason.  Also, given the shallowness of the countermark's field, coupled with the high relief of the character, I wonder if the character was in the die and not applied after striking.  If that's the case, which is probably not so, that would make this owl a very well made imitation, struck in the Levant.  It's fun to speculate about these things!

977114068_D-CameraAthensowl440-404BCPaleo-HebrewTawcmobv17.18gRoma1001338-9-22.jpg.687f0c3cc60d6333c97644729f868a33.jpg

 

Athens, tetradrachm, circa 450 BC, Phoenician countermark M obverse.

17.15 grams

This is an early standardized owl, with an interesting transitional palmette on the obverse.  Clearly it has circulated, but the countermark is deep and bold.

1738726490_D-CameraAthensowlc.450BCPheoniciancountermarkM17.15geBay2-9-22.jpg.e13ec76607593b7befe38c4f78232fa7.jpg

 

Athens, tetradrachm, after 449 BC,  Phoenician countermark W (waw) obverse.

17.0  grams

This is a standardized owl with a very bold Phoenician W countermark on the obverse, generally similar to that of the OP coin.  The second countermark on the obverse is very similar to the countermark illustrated in Peter G. Van Alfen's "The Owls' From The 1989 Syria Hoard, With A Review of Pre-Macedonian Coinage in Egypt" (1989), number 24.  Could this coin be from that hoard? Possibly.

733777050_D-CameraAthenstetradrachmafter449BCPhoenciancountermarkWwaw17.0g5-7-21.jpg.9216ddb6ec1777c44f1571d48c0700f6.jpg

 

Athens, Levant imitation tetradrachm, Aramaic "H" on obverse (?), 4th century BC.  From Roma XVIII, lot 564.

16.92 grams

This owl is a head scratcher for me, which isn't good, since I am follically challenged in that department.  That this owl is an imitation there is no doubt.  I am not sure about the letter on the obverse, which has been incorporated as part of the die.  It could be an Aramaic H, on its side.  Any thoughts?

1587973955_D-CameraAthensEasternimitationOwlAramaic4thcenBC16.92gRomaXVIII5645-21-21.jpg.f16861cb9aa6f4fa6ba55d21435c42b9.jpg

 

Athens, eastern imitation tetradrachm, 4th century BC.  From Roma E-Sale 54, lot 113.

16.33 grams

To round things out, here is one more imitation owl.

1539732117_D-CameraAthensEasternimitationowl4thcenBC16.33gRoma5411312-2-21.jpg.e7a1ed0e91286fa2ef234195923738a2.jpg

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Here is a bronze owl from Athens...

image.png.43f97f6c2d591c596cc9250695596536.png

Athens 340-317 BCE BC AE 12 Athena attic helmet R- Double bodied Owl with head facing E olive sprigs kalathos R - BMC 224

 

And an AR Hemi:

image.png.407f76bd23eb92283dd13b79e1626d17.png

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

 

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@robinjojo, I'm absolutely loving how you can identify the Paleo-Hebrew and Phoenician letters on the banker's marks. 

...Calling for a repost of a hack-silver shekel, dated by Holyland Auction as c. 8th-4th c. BCE.  One could wish that the apparent marking on the 'obverse' was another paleo-Hebrew letter, but in hand, it doesn't seem likely.

2927016_1654178072.jpg

The weight is only 13.14 grams, not inviting any direct comparison to the owls that circulated in this part of the world.  But in light of how long some of them were circulating, now I'm wondering how they compare to the coined shekels of the First Revolt.  Possibly with Tyrian shekels as a sustained transition point.  ...Honest, I'm Way out of my depth here!!!  :<}
 

Edited by JeandAcre
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18 minutes ago, Alegandron said:

Here is a bronze owl from Athens...

image.png.43f97f6c2d591c596cc9250695596536.png

Athens 340-317 BCE BC AE 12 Athena attic helmet R- Double bodied Owl with head facing E olive sprigs kalathos R - BMC 224

 

And an AR Hemi:

image.png.407f76bd23eb92283dd13b79e1626d17.png

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

 

Wow, @Alegandron, just, Wow, and a few more of the same.  The hemidrachm is sheer brilliance, but an Athenian AE as early as that, continuing the same, iconic motifs, is, well, after 'really great,' words fail.

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1 hour ago, JeandAcre said:

@robinjojo I'm absolutely loving how you can identify the Paleo-Hebrew and Phoenician letters on the banker's marks. 

...Calling for a repost of a hack-silver shekel, dated by Holyland Auction as c. 8th-4th c. BCE.  One could wish that the apparent marking on the 'obverse' was another paleo-Hebrew letter, but in hand, it doesn't seem likely.

2927016_1654178072.jpg

The weight is only 13.14 grams, not inviting any direct comparison to the owls that circulated in this part of the world.  But in light of how long some of them were circulating, now I'm wondering how they compare to the coined shekels of the First Revolt.  Possibly with Tyrian shekels as a sustained transition point.  ...Honest, I'm Way out of my depth here!!!  :<}
 

That's a very interesting shekel.  The weight, despite the crude nature of the ingot, is within the shekel weight range.  It seems that some type of symbol is on the side of the left image.  It's quite geometric and not accidental, I think.

I have a two shekel hack silver ingot from that period.

Two shekels hack silver, Late Bronze Age –Iron Age, circa 13th-10th centuries BCE.

25.90 grams

152754473_D-Camera2SHEKELSHACKSILVERLateBronzeAgeIronAgec.13th-10thcenBCE_25.90gr4-12-21.jpg.541b4c6913f13d60c957c6395452f554.jpg

 

Here's my shekel from the first revolt:

First Jewish Revolt, Shekel, Year 2.

13.7 grams

825733475_D-CameraJewishRevoltShekelYear2Ponterio13.7grams8-11-20.jpg.53722ea0f91269f51d2b19d642a36b9f.jpg

 

 

Edited by robinjojo
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Many thanks, @robinjojo, for your vote of confidence about the apparent marking on my shekel.  And your much earlier double shekel, and First Revolt example, are kicking stuff all over the block.  

But, to wallow in the obvious, the one thing that's most striking about all of these is the consistency of the weight, over nearly a millennium and a quarter.  I was drawn to find a hacksilver shekel after reading a passage in the Tanakh, where the prophet Jeremiah buys an estate during a depressed and otherwise scary time in his nation's fortunes.  In translation(s), the passage explicitly mentions the weighing of the amount of shekels involved.  That was when I said, it's time you found one of these.

...I have to be reminded of how, until the end of the 10th century CE, Vikings were relating to silver coins exclusively in terms of weight.  Witness their own hack-silver, especially of earlier 10th-century Samanid dirhams, often cut in ways that demonstrate the irrelevance of the denomination per se.  --This while they were conducting a trade network that extended from western Europe to the far reaches of Central Asia.  Another example of what people were capable of in the absence of a strictly monetary economy.

(This one happens to approximate a half dirham, but you can still see how the esthetics weren't on the top of the radar:)

image.jpeg.75a10f0ff7af1409ca6732f2363ded1c.jpeg

image.jpeg.5da6277a6491674de6517d8f1e21d449.jpeg

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