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Full head & full incuse square mass issue Athenian owl?


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Have you ever seen a mass issue Athenian tetradrachm that has a full head (so full crest, nose isn't cut off, and Athena's hair bun/ braids and neckline are fully visible) AND a full incuse square on the reverse? (so the entire square is visible, when usually the corners or one of the square sides are cut off)?

There's an Athenian drachm in the British Museum that's full head & full incuse square but I don't think i've ever seen a tetradrachm that looks like it 

Screen Shot 2022-07-10 at 2.14.51 AM.png

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This is probably the closest owl that I have meeting at least one of those two criteria.  The obverse is almost complete by virtue of the fact that the die used is unusually small.  The strike is off center but still most of the crest is present, with possibly a very small portion at the upper right.  It's hard to tell.  The crest seems to taper towards the top end of the helmet.

As for the reverse, the incuse is typical for a standardized owl, rather narrow walls that do not make a perfect frame.  In fact the right side of the incuse is quite shallow.  Some of the Starr owls have this frame.



Here's a Starr group III owl showing a nearly perfect incuse.  More care was taken earlier in the 5th century before the standardized owl were produced in huge quantities.


Edited by robinjojo
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Here's one more owl for this thread.  It is an early archaic owl, minted during the rule of the tyrant Hippias (527-510 BC).  This owl belongs to Seltman group H and weighs 17.48 grams.

The owl produced during this period were experimental in design, at least during the earlier portion, with different arrangements of the reverse's AOE legend and the olive branches and leaves in relationship to the owl.  The design of Athena's helmet is also quite distinctive when compared to subsequent archaic examples.  By the time this coin was produced, towards 510 BC, the basic reverse design that was to dominate Athenian coinage until the new style owls of the second and first centuries BC was in place. Seltman considers these Group H owls to have been used for ceremonial purposes, the Greater Panathenaic festivals which occurred on a four year cycle.

But what is most noteworthy for this thread is the deep incuse of the reverse, creating a solid flat rimmed frame around the owl and the other design elements.  With later archaic owls, this type of incuse utterly disappears, probably due to two factors: 1) designing reverse dies with this feature required time and skill on the part of the engraver; and 2) as owl production approached 480 BC and the second Persian Invasion of Greece, speed of production was needed to produce the money to pay for construction of the Athenian fleet and the city's defensive walls.  The need precluded attention to die engraving and preparation, as well as flan preparation, resulting in a wide array of styles and often very crude coins.

Some archaic owls show parts of an incuse, but not a deep continuous one such as this coin's.


Edited by robinjojo
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