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Dating an Athenian Tetradrachm


Kosmas
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Yep, go with the flow.  Unless a new INSTRUCTIVE  coin hoard  is found,  mixed with other less boring and with more dateable types, this is a typical MASS CLASSIC OLD STYLE OWL.  The type of owl that dominated Athens and its trading partners that was also hugely and no doubt semi-officially copied by them. I don't know Shanxi's short date span at all , most just say c 450 BC--- the height of Athens bullying!  Unlike the NEWSTYLE or very late Old Style  there is really nothing to say. Until Athens lost the Peloponnesian war, that is!

 

NSK=John

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Posted (edited)

One clear trend with these classical owls is the gradual reduction of the frame on the reverse, part of the incuse design that was very well defined on the earlier owls of the transitional period, prior to the commencement of large scale minting, circa 449 BC.

Yes, dating these classical owls is controversial, as is the case with the intermediate owls as well.  For the former we have Starr, Kroll, Kraay, Flament, and others, while for the latter there's the Pi-Style dating system developed by Bingen, and Kroll.  As with Setlman's system much of the date attribution for classical owls is based on stylistic changes.  In the case of Seltman the archaic owls are linked to artistic trends during different period in Athenian history as well as historical developments, such as the opening of the Paeonia Mint by an exiled Athenian tyrant.  So, without clear dates imprinted on the owls, dating for these coins is inferential.

I think the OP owl might be one that was produced in the 420s. . While the reverse is very nicely centered, the frame edges are quite shallow, foreshadowing the irregular reverses of the intermediate owls, where the frame edge may or may not exist, and when it does, usually just one edge is present.

Athens, tetradrachm,  circa last decade of 5th century BC.   Roma E-Sale 86, Lot 240.

17.15 grams

538696026_D-CameraAthenstetradrachmafter410BCE17.15gRoma862408-30-21.jpg.a6f633d767a1e8843c389679f7209e04.jpg

 

For further comparison, here's a plated owl from 406-404 BC, a period well documented as a time when Athens issued these necessity coins while coming under siege by Sparta and her allies.

Athens, plated tetradrachm, circa 406-404 BC,  Sear 2535.

13.80 grams

1107704190_D-CameraAthensPlatedTetradrachmc.406-404BC13.80gSear2535Abt.EF5-12-20.jpg.c24a9f230cce5ad3d9f8ab839259feea.jpg

 

By the time these coins were produced the obverse eye is open at both ends and the profiles are quite crudely done by Athenian standards.  On the reverse the owl has become quite elongated and low in relief and most importantly the incuse edges are very low and irregular.  These traits indicate both coins are later issues, using the plated owl as the point of reference.

Edited by robinjojo
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, kirispupis said:

Personally, I would never date an Athenian tet. The owl's cute and all that and some may find Athena sexy, but there's just no substance underneath that silver gleam.

First thing I thought of too--goddess or not, I'm happily married blah blah etc, and besides, we have cats--but ahem, I managed to resist temptation! Lol.

Edited by Phil Davis
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As for "dating Athena," gazing on the smiling faces of my own beloved, it would appear that I definitely "have a type" and a very specific age preference...

I don't know exactly when it is, but I'm guess these three were all from a fairly narrow band within the broader range, whether it's dated "c. 430," "430s-420s," "454-404" (most common), "440-404," or "c. 450" or "461-429," etc.

image.png.fd240c482cab742ec3b03a2dcaed9a53.png  image.png.371e79d3c89d2e03508ec8ba6e405753.png    image.png.328a769f85ebf944f951ca24fcd4c719.png

Edited by Curtis JJ
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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Kosmas said:

Can anybody help me with the dating of this Athenian tetradrachm ?

IMG_20220802_184825.jpg

The owl's beak on your coin is quite unusual.  It almost looks like an engraving error.  The vertical line that is supposed to be in the middle of the beak was punched or engraved horizontally.  Bad lighting at the mint?  The effects of a night on the town?

Very interesting.  I haven't seen this apparent error before.

Edited by robinjojo
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1 hour ago, robinjojo said:

The owl's beak on your coin is quite unusual.  It almost looks like an engraving error.  The vertical line that is supposed to be in the middle of the beak was punched or engraved horizontally.  Bad lighting at the mint?  The effects of a night on the town?

Very interesting.  I haven't seen this apparent error before.

Maybe error by someone who cleaned it ?

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23 hours ago, robinjojo said:

One clear trend with these classical owls is the gradual reduction of the frame on the reverse, part of the incuse design that was very well defined on the earlier owls of the transitional period, prior to the commencement of large scale minting, circa 449 BC.

Yes, dating these classical owls is controversial, as is the case with the intermediate owls as well.  For the former we have Starr, Kroll, Kraay, Flament, and others, while for the latter there's the Pi-Style dating system developed by Bingen, and Kroll.  As with Setlman's system much of the date attribution for classical owls is based on stylistic changes.  In the case of Seltman the archaic owls are linked to artistic trends during different period in Athenian history as well as historical developments, such as the opening of the Paeonia Mint by an exiled Athenian tyrant.  So, without clear dates imprinted on the owls, dating for these coins is inferential.

I think the OP owl might be one that was produced in the 420s. . While the reverse is very nicely centered, the frame edges are quite shallow, foreshadowing the irregular reverses of the intermediate owls, where the frame edge may or may not exist, and when it does, usually just one edge is present.

Athens, tetradrachm,  circa last decade of 5th century BC.   Roma E-Sale 86, Lot 240.

17.15 grams

538696026_D-CameraAthenstetradrachmafter410BCE17.15gRoma862408-30-21.jpg.a6f633d767a1e8843c389679f7209e04.jpg

 

For further comparison, here's a plated owl from 406-404 BC, a period well documented as a time when Athens issued these necessity coins while coming under siege by Sparta and her allies.

Athens, plated tetradrachm, circa 406-404 BC,  Sear 2535.

13.80 grams

1107704190_D-CameraAthensPlatedTetradrachmc.406-404BC13.80gSear2535Abt.EF5-12-20.jpg.c24a9f230cce5ad3d9f8ab839259feea.jpg

 

By the time these coins were produced the obverse eye is open at both ends and the profiles are quite crudely done by Athenian standards.  On the reverse the owl has become quite elongated and low in relief and most importantly the incuse edges are very low and irregular.  These traits indicate both coins are later issues, using the plated owl as the point of reference.

Excellent ! i totally agree with your view.

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