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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Birds ▸ OwlView Options:  |  |  | 

Owls on Ancient Coins

Owls are depicted on many different ancient coin types but the most prolific types are the coins of ancient Athens. The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" (but in Greek of course) and "girls" (referring to Athena on the obverse, also in Greek). "Owls" were so popular as a central currency of the ancient world that the design remained essentially unchanged and somewhat archaic long after other cities began to produce coins of a more refined artistic style. "Owls" of Athens are still very popular. For collectors, they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.


Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

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Quadrantes, like quinarii, were issued only occasionally, perhaps exclusively for imperial distributions. Suetonius reported that, from the roof of the Basilica Julia "Caligula threw coins among the people." Perhaps this small coin was thrown to the crowd by the Nero himself at a similar event.
RB89528. Orichalcum quadrans, BMCRE I p. 258, 300 (same legend breaks); Mac Dowall WCN 342a; RIC I 258, BnF I 353; Cohen I 110; Hunter I -; SRCV I -, aEF, nice red and green patina, porosity, obverse slightly off center, weight 1.910 g, maximum diameter 13.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 - 66 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAV CAE AVG 16, owl, with wings spread, standing facing on garlanded altar, snake winding up the right side of the altar; reverse GER P M TR P IMP P P, upright olive-branch, three tiny dots (mark of value) below, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking at sides; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $250.00 (212.50)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 393 - 297 B.C.

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GS86848. Silver obol, cf. Svoronos Athens pl. 22, 1 ff.; HGC 4 1666 (R1); Kroll -; SNG Cop -, gVF, toned, tight flan, weight 0.695 g, maximum diameter 8.7 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 393 - 297 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel curves, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, head facing, sprig of one olive and one large leaf behind, all in incuse square, AΘE downward on right; ex Beast Coins; rare; $215.00 (182.75)


Kamarina, Sicily, 413 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI88919. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 200; Calciati III pp. 63 - 65, 33; BMC Sicily p. 40; 40; SNG Mnchen 415; SNG ANS 1228; SNG Cop 169; HGC 2 548, VF, well centered, bold strike, brown patina, porous, weight 3.263 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 413 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with wing, dot border; reverse owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard in right talon, KAMA downward on right, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $200.00 (170.00)


Kamarina, Sicily, 413 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI88921. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 200; Calciati III pp. 63 - 65, 33; BMC Sicily p. 40; 40; SNG Mnchen 415; SNG ANS 1228; SNG Cop 169; HGC 2 548, VF, well centered, brown patina, scratches, earthen deposits, weight 2.925 g, maximum diameter 14.2 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 413 - 405 B.C.; obverse head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with wing, dot border; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; $200.00 (170.00)


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

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A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS86843. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, toned, well centered on a tight rhomboid flan, a little rough, encrustations, weight 9.4 g, maximum diameter 0.636 mm, die axis 180o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Beast Coins; $125.00 (106.25)


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

Click for a larger photo
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
GS86844. Silver obol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 45 - 50, SH269 ff.; Gitler-Tal 4.4.IX.1O; SNG ANS 18; Sofaer Gaza pl. 103, 6, VF, toned, slightly rough, bumps and scratches, crowded rhomboid flan, weight 0.754 g, maximum diameter 9.5 mm, die axis 270o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves and a crescent behind, AΘE downward on right, all in incuse square, no Aramaic inscription; ex Beast Coins; $125.00 (106.25)


Persian Empire, Philistia (Gaza or Samaria), c. 375 - 333 B.C., Imitative of Athens

Click for a larger photo
A Persian Period imitation of Athenian types from the Holy Land. In the past these coins were all attributed to Gaza, however, recent hoard finds indicate a mint at Ashkelon probably also struck this type. It is likely that at least several small mints struck these imitative types.
JD86845. Silver hemiobol, cf. Samaria Hoard pls. 50 - 51, SH306 ff.; SNG ANS 20, gF, toned, die wear, rough/porous, irregular flan, edge chips, weight 0.216 g, maximum diameter 6.6 mm, die axis 270o, Gaza(?) mint, c. 375 - 333 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet with three olive leaves over visor and a spiral palmette on the bowl, hair in parallel bands, very large eye in profile; reverse owl standing right, wings closed, head facing, olive spray with one olive between two leaves behind (no crescent visible), AΘE downward on right (off flan), all in incuse square; ex Beast Coins; $90.00 (76.50)


Seleukid Kingdom, Cleopatra Thea and Antiochus VIII Grypus, 125 - 121 B.C.

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Antiochus VIII Epiphanes Grypus (Hook-Nose) was crowned as a teenager, ruling jointly with his mother Cleopatra Thea. In 121 B.C., one day when he returned from a hunt, his mother offered him a cup of wine. Since this was not common behavior for her, Grypus was suspicious and forced her to drink the wine; poisoned, it killed her. Grypus fought a civil war with his brother that ended with his murder.
GB87733. Bronze AE 19, Houghton-Lorber II 2263(2)a, Houghton CSE 317, SNG Spaer 2443, HGC 9 1189 (S), VF, highlighting desert patina, struck with a worn obverse die, obverse slightly off center, beveled reverse edge, weight 5.690 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 0o, Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) mint, 123 - 122 B.C.; obverse radiate head of Antiochus VIII right; reverse BAΣIΛIΣΣHΣ / KΛEOΠATPAΣ / KAI BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOXOY in four downward lines first two on the right, last two on left, owl, looking forward, standing right on amphora on its side, IE (control) inner right; ϘP (Seleucid Era year 190) with aphlaston (control) to right below; scarce; $90.00 (76.50)







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Catalog current as of Wednesday, April 24, 2019.
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Owls