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Superb Owl Sunday

Roman Collector

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I know I post this every year, and it's probably getting old, but seeing that it's Superb Owl Sunday, post a coin with an owl that you think is superb!

I'll start:

Troas, Sigeion, c. 335 BC.
Greek Æ 12.2 mm, 2.37 g, 5 h.
Obv: Head of Athena facing slightly right, wearing triple crested helmet and necklace.
Rev: ΣΙΓΕ, owl standing right, head facing; crescent to left.
Refs: BMC 17.86,7-10; SNG von Aulock 7637; SNG Ashmolean 1214–6; SNG Copenhagen 496–8; Sear 4145.

Pergamon Athena Owl AE 15.jpg
Mysia, Pergamon, 200-133 BC.
Bronze Æ 15.7 mm, 3.55 g, 12 h.
Obv: Head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet ornamented with star.
Rev: AΘΗ-ΝΑΣ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ, owl standing facing on palm, with wings spread,TK monogram left and ΠΛ right.
Refs: SNG Copenhagen 388 (same); c.f. SNG von Aulock 1375-6, BMC 197-199, SNG France 1920-2, SNG BN 1913-6 (various monograms).

Edited by Roman Collector
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Not quite as characterful as your fantastic  Pergamon owl  but -

Bruttium, Kroton, AR Drachm, c. 280-250 BC, head of Heracles right, wearing tania, rev. owl standing left, KRO before, ear of grain to left, 3.06g, 9h (Attianese, Kroton 153; HN Italy 2195; SNG ANS, 421; Jameson 436




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@Roman Collector, I enjoy your annual tradition - Although I am not a big football fan, this year I can say that I was disappointed that the Lions didn't make it to the superbowl.  Nonetheless, I am looking forward to watching the game with a crowd this afternoon and hoping that the KC Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes do well.  As my coin selection has probably already made clear I am generally looking for coins that are "not the usual suspects" - so here's my Suberb Owl from the Seleucid empire...one of the few coins that I have issued by a BAΣIΛIΣΣA (Queen Cleopatra Thea).   Best Wishes for a Suberb Owl Day 🙃


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New style owl:


ATTICA, Athens, Tetradrachm (16.49g, 27mm), month of Skirophorion (June 13 - July 13), 97 BC.
Rev: Magistrates Niketes, Dionysios, and "Embi-".  Owl; gorgoneion to right; M (= month 12) on amphora, MH (who probably supplied the silver) below
ex Dr. Reinhard Fischer, Auction 165, Nov 2018, lot 52
Ref: Seems to match the obverse die for Thompson 961, reverse die of 958a)

The dating is usually given as 98/97 BC but this one has the month M -- which is the last month of the year. Thus June/July 97 BC?

The coins use a lunar calendar.  See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attic_calendar for the calender system; see http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/phasescat/phases-0099.html the showing the moon was new on Jun 13, 97 BC and on Jul 13, 97 BC.

I wish I know how to get rid of the black corrosion.

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I usually post an owl on the birding groups today, but I like the tradition of also adding a coin. 🙂 


ATTICA, Athens
AR Tetradrachm 22.5mm, 17.18g, 1h
Circa 454-404 BCE
Kroll 8; HGC 4, 1597
Ex CNG inventory June 2004
Ex CNG January 2021



Egypt, Achaemenid Province. Sabakes, satrap, AR Tetradrachm. Circa 340-333 BCE
16.61g, 25mm, 9h.
Head of Athena to right, wearing earring, necklace, and crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl / Owl standing to right with head facing, olive sprig with berry and crescent in upper left field; uncertain letters to left, ""Sabakes symbol"" and SWYK (in Aramaic) to right.
Van Alfen Type III, 24-34 var. (O11/R- [unlisted rev. die]); Nicolet-Pierre, Monnaies 18-26 (same obv. die); SNG Copenhagen 4 var. (no letters on left of rev.); BMC 265 var. (same).



Sophytes, 'Athenian Series' AR Tetradrachm
Uncertain mint, circa 323-240 BCE
16.48g, 21mm, 1h.
Attic standard. Head of Athena to right, wearing earring, necklace, and crested Attic helmet decorated with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette and grape bunch on the bowl / Owl standing to right, head facing; olive sprig and crescent behind, AΘE before; all within incuse square
Cf. Bopearachchi, Sophytes Series 1A; cf. Roma XIV, 341 corr. (grape bunch on rev.)
Ex 1960s Andragoras-Sophytes Group

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Athens, AR Tetradrachm

Obv:– Head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and floral scroll
Rev:– owl standing right, head facing, to right ATE in large lettering, to left olive sprig and crescent
Minted in Athens c. B.C. 393 - 370.
Reference:– Flamen p. 126, 1 (Pi I); Svoronos Athens plate 19, 17; SNG Cop -
Ex-Forum Ancient Coins
16.699g, 24.31mm, 270o

The following information was provide with the coin:-

"Transitional style tetradrachms include all of the wide spectrum of variants with the eye in profile issued after the classic "old style" almond eye tetradrachms but before the broad thinner flan "new style" tetradrachms. Recent research has classified variations of the transitional style - Pi Type, Quadridigité Style, Heterogeneous Style and sub-groups of the styles, and proposed chronologies for the different styles and groups.

This coin is the earliest transitional type, the first Pi style type, essentially identical to the "old style" with the exception of the eye in profile. The "Pi" designation is based on the P shape of the floral spiral and palmette ornamentation on the helmet bowl. The coin can be classified as Pi style, group 1. The floral ornament on examples this early do not yet resemble Pi."


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PERGAMON (Mysia) AE16.
Obverse: Head of Athena right, wearing helmet decorated with 8 pointed star.
Reverse: AΘHNAΣ / NIKHΦOPOY. Owl standing facing on palm frond right, with wings spread. Monograms ΓΑ and ΑΡ either sides of owl in fields.
SNG Leipzig 1102-1103. Pergamon mint, ca. 200-133 BC.  2,9 g - 16 mm. RIC online reference coin.



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What a hoot! 

I'll start with the ubiquitous Athenian tetradrachm and follow that with a parliament of Magna Graecian owls, the first of which is a drachm from Herakleia, followed by a bronze of Velia with Herakles obverse, then two drachms from Taras, the last one a very rare left-facing owl.

~ Peter 






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I don't watch football. So I don't know who this Taylor Swift is. But he sounds fast. 

Just kidding. Let's go sixty niners!

2 of these coins have hidden owls:





Edited by Ryro
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Meh.  Ravens aren't playing, Eagles aren't playing, so I'm not very excited for today's game.  Guess I'll probably watch anyway, because Sports:

But I do have a pretty superb owl of my own, on this Phoenician didrachm of Tyre:


Or if you prefer a live bird, I saw this nesting Great Horned Owl a few years ago:



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I have no Superb Owls whatsoever, and only one Athenian owl at all, in mediocre condition at best, for which I paid the princely sum of $300 back in 2007. On the two other coins I have depicting owls, they play mere supporting roles.

Attica, Athens AR Tetradrachm, ca. 454-393 BCE (“Mass Classical Owl”). Obv. Head of Athena right [w/scratches (possibly ancient) on Athena’s face in form of open square] / Rev. Owl [w/test cut on owl’s face & bankers’ mark on owl’s body], olive sprig and crescent to left, Α Θ [Ε worn off] downwards to right.    2526 var. [Sear, David, Greek Coins & their Values, Vol. I: Europe (Seaby 1978)]; Flament Group II.40 [Obv.]/ II.q [Rev.] [see Flament, Christophe, Le monnayage en argent d'Athènes. De l'époque archaïque à l'époque hellénistique (c. 550-c. 40 av. J.-C) (2009)]. 25 mm., 16.79 g. (Purchased from John Jencek at 2007 NYINC.


Tarentum, Calabria. AR Nomos, ca. 272-240 BCE. Magistrates Sy… and Lykinos. Obv. Nude youth on horse advancing to left, crowning horse with wreath held in right hand, holding reins in left hand; to right, ΣΥ; below horse, ΛΥΚΙ/ΝΟΣ in two lines / Rev. Phalanthos [not “Taras”; see https://coinsweekly.com/and-this-is-where-aristotle-was-wrong/] astride dolphin to left, his back half-turned to viewer, brandishing trident held in right hand, chlamys draped over left arm; ΤΑ-ΡΑΣ beneath dolphin; in right field, owl standing to left, head facing.. Vlasto 836-841 [all same type] at p. 95 & Pl. XXVII [Ravel, O.E., Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Tarentine Coins formed by M.P. Vlasto (London, 1947, reprinted 1977)]; HN Italy 1025 [Rutter, N.K., ed., Historia Numorum Italy (London, 2001)]. 19.5 mm., 6.47 g, 12 h. (“Reduced standard” compared to larger size of earlier coins, beginning after arrival of Pyrrhus in Italy ca. 280 BCE.) Purchased at Nomos Obolos Auction 22, 6 March 2022, Lot 39.


Trajan AR Drachm, AD 98/99, Koinon of Lycia. Obv. Laureate head of Trajan right, ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΝΕΡ ΤΡΑΙΑΝΟϹ ϹΕΒ ΓƐΡΜ / Rev. Two lyres with owl perched on top of them, standing to right, ΔΗΜ ΕΞ ΥΠΑΤ • Β [COS II]. RPC [Roman Provincial Coinage] Vol. III 2676 (2015); RPC III Online 2676 at https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/3/2676; SNG von Aulock 4268 [Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Deutschland, Sammlung Hans Von Aulock, Vol. 2: Caria, Lydia, Phrygia, Lycia, Pamphylia (Berlin, 1962)]; BMC 19 Lycia 9-11 at p. 39 (ill. Pl. IX No. 11) [Hill, G.F., A Catalogue of Greek Coins in the British Museum, Lycia, Pamphylia, and Pisidia (London, 1897)]. Purchased Jan. 6, 2022 at Roma Numismatics E-Sale 93, Lot 717. 18 mm., 2.87 g., 6 h. 


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Happy Superb owl Sunday!

Here are my two owls (or technically three because of two-in-one):


ATTICA. Athens. AV Diobol (1.43 gms), ca. 407/6 B.C.
Svoronos-pl. 15#7. Head of Athena facing right wearing crested Attic helmet adorned with palmette and olive leaves; Reverse: Two owls standing confronted, olive branch between, ethnic in exergue. Minor scuffs, though commensurate with the assigned condition.
Ex. John Whitney Walter Collection

Athens was a prolific producer of silver coinage, minting millions of owl tetradrachms. Gold, however, was much scarcer in the region and Athens only minted gold coinage when in severe crisis. This gold diobol comes from the final years of the Peloponnesian War and is one of the most important and rarest Greek coins.

Athens faced heavy losses against Sparta. Near the end of the war, they blocked Athens from accessing its silver mines, resulting in an economic emergency. After four years of being starved out, the need for funds became so dire, the authorities ordered the melting of seven of the eight massive gold statues of Nike which were standing around the Parthenon on the Acropolis.

These statues were symbols of the city’s great economic reserves making this a true moment of desperation for Athens. The gold from these statues was minted into coins and used to construct a new fleet of ships to attempt a naval retaliation. Because of their value, to protect against forgeries, the dies used to strike the coins were stored in the Parthenon treasury in an alabaster box. Further indicating the importance of their minting, the historical context of these gold coins is exceptionally well documented by the playwright Aristophanes and by the Athenian treasury records.

Unfortunately, even with the influx of funds, Athens was ultimately defeated at sea and surrendered to the Spartan general Lysander.

While many thousands of coins were minted with the volume of gold from the statues, only a very small number survive today. This coin is one of only two diobols in private hands with the four others residing in museums. Other denominations are also known but exist in similar numbers, with only one or two examples of each available to private collectors.



ROMAN PROVINCIAL COINS. PELOPONNESUS. SULLA, 138-78 BC. Tetradrachmon ("Leukolleion"), in the manner of Athens (NS), struck in an uncertain mint, about 88-87 BC. AR 16.65 g. Head of Athena r., wearing triple crested Athenian helmet, decorated with Pegasus and four horses. Rev. Between two monograms, owl, head facing, standing r. on amphora inscribed with A; the whole within laurel wreath. Boehringer, CMM (1972 28-31 and pl. 29, 10; Thompson, NS 426, 1293. Ex Trampitsch Collection, Auction J. Vinchon, Paris 13 & 14 November 1986 (Monte-Carlo), 183; Ex. J. Vinchon 27 February 1961, Lot 157

Few Athenian coins are as historically relevant as those of 87/6-84 B.C., when the Roman consul Sulla landed his army in Greece to wage war against Mithradates VI, the Pontic king who recently had taken the region by force. Not only are these coins the last ‘ancient’ silver coins struck in Athens, but they are directly tied to historical events, and are mentioned in the ancient literature. The Sullan coinage at Athens consists mainly of silver tetradrachms, a smaller component of silver drachms, and a bronze coinage that today is very rare.

The silver coins employ the basic designs of Athenian ‘New Style’ tetradrachms, which in ancient times were called stephanophoroi (‘wreath-bearers’) because the reverse design was enclosed within a wreath. But that is where the similarities end between Athenian coinage and the Athenian-style coinage of Sulla. The style of Sulla’s coins is quite different than their predecessor Athenian coinage, and the symbols and weighty inscriptions that cluttered the reverse field of the Athenian coins are replaced only with two monograms or two trophies. The monogram coins seem to have been the first issue, for which Thompson suggested a starting date of 86 B.C., after Sulla captured Athens.

The trophy coins are regarded as the second issue, and presumably were struck shortly before Sulla left Athens to return to Rome. However, there seems little reason to doubt that some of the monogram coins were struck outside of Athens, and for this and other reasons they often have been described as ‘pseudo-Athenian’ coins. Sulla landed in Greece in the spring of 87 B.C., and did not capture Athens for a year.

During that period he would have needed coinage to support his army and to conduct a siege. Appian (Mith. V.30) describes how Sulla immediately collected money from the Greeks who supported the Romans against Mithradates. Might not this new fund have been converted into coinage that had a familiar Athenian type, but was easily distinguishable as a product of Sulla?

Another source, Plutarch (Lucullus II.2), describes how Sulla’s proquaestor L. Licinius Lucullus was put in charge of coinage on this expedition, and that he did such an fine job that the coins he made came to be named after him: “...it was called ‘Lucullan’ after him, and circulated very widely because the needs of the soldiers during the war caused it to be exchanged quickly.” An inscription from Delphi concerning the sale of slaves echoes Plutarch: “...they paid for these in one sum of a hundred and fifty ‘flats’ of Lucullus...” A colloquial description like ‘flats’ would be fitting for Athenian ‘New Style’ coins, which are broad and thin, and would lend themselves to such a nickname.

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Wonderful owl-related coins posted in this thread!

Attica, Athens AE 14, 130-90 BC.

HGC 4, 1734; Kroll 1993, no. 100.

4.19 grams


Southern Arabia, Qataban, hemidrachm, c. 350-300 BC.

2.54 grams



Northern Arabia, Lihyan Kingdom, silver tetradrachm, 2nd-1st centuries BC.

13.02 grams 



As for "superb", this classical standardized owl is only EF, but a good portion of the crest is visible, which makes it rather attractive.

Attica, Athens, tetradrachm, 440-404 BC.

17.18 grams 


Edited by robinjojo
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I couldn't care less about football but I really hope Taylor Swift wins the Superbowl!

I had to get better pictures of this coin since my originals were subpar even for me.


Neonteichos, Aeolia
2nd Century BC
Obverse: Helmeted head of Athena right
Reverse: Owl standing right, head facing, NE below
SNG Cop 245

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It's probably appropriate this late in the evening to show a coin which is supposed to have an 🦉 but does not!



AR Denarius, 3.10g
Rome mint, 95-96 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XV; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: IMP XXII COS XVII CENS P P P; Minerva stg. r. on capital of rostral column, with spear and shield (M2, missing owl)
RIC 788 var. (owl on prow). BMC 231 var. (same). RSC 293 var. (same). BNC 207 var. (same).
Ex Private Collection.

An unusual example of the standard Minerva on capital of rostral column lacking the owl, which should be at her feet to the right. Not long after this coin was struck Domitian fell victim to a palace plot. I wonder if Domiitan had seen this coin would he have taken it as an ill omen?



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Still waiting for this one to grow up into a Dekadrachm!

Samaria. Samarian-signed Series. Circa 375-333 BC. AR Obol (9mm, 0.76g, 12h). Obv: Helmeted head of Athena right. Rev: Owl standing facing, wings spread; Š-N (in Aramaic) flanking. Ref: Meshorer and Qedar 87; Sofaer 31: GBC 1037; HGC 10, 416. Very Fine, find patina, patina chipped on reverse. Ex CNG eAuction 251 (9 Mar 2011), Lot 79.


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This little one is hardly superb but it is kinda cute and I rarely get a chance to show it, so here it is...

Athens, Attica

454-404 BC
AR Hemiobol (7mm, 0.30g)
O: Helmeted head of Athena right.
R: Owl standing right with head facing, olive sprig behind; AΘE to right, all within incuse square.
Kroll 14; SNG Cop 59; Sear 2531v
ex Artifact Man

~ Peter 


Edited by Phil Anthos
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