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Athenian Owl

Imagine owning a coin so historic and rare that examples are only held by museums and private collectors. The Athenian Owl Tetradrachms that we are offering today are in Mint State condition. That means that for over 2,400 years these coins have been kept in nearly immaculate condition. Ancient coins were minted by hand. That means the coins were literally struck with a hammer blow. Due to this method of manufacture, no two ancient coins are completely alike and each coin exhibits its own unique character. Ancient coins are graded differently than modern coins. Instead of grading on the Sheldon Scale numeric scale, they are graded on an adjectival scale. For instance, a coin will be graded Extremely Fine instead of XF40, or Mint State instead of MS 60, 61, or 62.

The illustrious reputation of this stunning ancient coin has even had an impact on the United States of America’s numismatic coins. Theodore Roosevelt, the driving force behind the American Coin Renaissance, is said to have carried an Athenian Owl Tetradrachm as a pocket piece. Roosevelt’s very own Athenian Owl Tetradrachm is a testament to his respect for Ancient Greek coinage and is considered to have been the inspiration behind his goal of redesigning United States coinage. Without this iconic tetradrachm design, many American coin designs, including the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle may never have been created.

The Tetradrachm features an image of Athens’ patron goddess, Athena, on the obverse. In this image, Athena wears a classic Greek Attic helmet which is decorated with three olive branches. The reverse of this iconic coin featured Athena’s unmistakable symbol of an owl. Behind the owl was a sprig of olive, which referenced the gift that Athena had given to Kekrops in order to become the city’s patron goddess. In front of the owl is an inscription of ΑΘΕ, Alpha, Theta, Epsilon, which was an abbreviation for the word “Athenaion.” This word translates into “of the Athenians.”

"This is the most recognized coin of ancient Greece, for it was produced by the most important city of Greece and was struck in great quantities, mainly from the 460s to the 290s B.C…these were extensively used in trade, and many suffer from deep chisel cuts or banker’s marks" - David Vagi

Throughout its over four hundred years of mintage, this coin has seen some stylistic changes, but has stuck with the its iconic imagery of Athena on the obverse and an owl on the reverse. Due to the image on the reverse, this coin was colloquially known as a “glaux,” which meant little owl. In ancient times, these tetradrachms were known to be reliable in weight and purity, and thus, were the dominant currency of the Mediterranean.

With only about 1% of these hand-struck Athenian Owl Tetradrachms surviving in Mint State condition, these examples are some of the few that have been preserved in nearly pristine condition. Be one of the fortunate few to obtain a literal piece of ancient Greece and add this nearly flawless Mint State Athenian Owl Tetradrachm to your numismatic collection for the low price of just $2,195!


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