The Attic

The Owls of Athens

Many years ago, when I was a kid pushing Lincoln pennies into Whitman folders, my parents bought me a catalog of World Coins with an Athenian tetradrachm on the cover. I certainly didn't know then that they existed outside of museums. Tetradrachms aren't inexpensive, but some of the smaller denominations can be had at very reasonable prices, and there is something special about holding a coin that might have been once bought Socrates his breakfast.

Remember, Socrates was a modest fellow who probably handled far more obols than he did tetradrachms.

Tetradrachm17.2garchaic "almond-eye"
Tetradrachm17.2gtransitional eye-in-profile
fouree Tetradrachm
modern fake
8.6gPurchased as an official end-of-the-Peloponnesian-war fouree, perhaps it's just an ancient counterfeit Reid Goldsborough has convincingly denounced this as a modern fake.
Tetradrachm16.7gnew style
Drachm3.1gOn drachms, you can often see the helmet crest
Hemiobol0.32gvery impractical!
Æ163.73gnot an owl, granted, but a far more practical way to make small change!
Æ215.78gagain, not an owl, this from the time of Gallienus

Doug Smith's Owls of Athens page

Reid Goldsborough's Athenian vs. Egyptian Owls

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