Attica, Athens Owl 455-440 BC Silver Tetradrachm (17.12g) NGC About Uncirculated 5/5 Strike – 5/5 Surface with a Star designation for museum quality eye appeal and craftsmanship.
Obverse- Head of Athena right, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive-leaves and floral scroll.
Reverse- Large OWL, olive sprig with berry and crescent in upper left field, AΘE to right. The inscription “ΑΘΕ” is an abbreviation of ΑΘΕΝΑΙΟΝ, “of the Athenians”.
Athens was a great military power in ancient Greece and is considered the birthplace of Western civilization and democracy. After defeating the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, Athens was brought into a golden age. During this period of prosperity, Athens expanded its political and economic influence throughout the Greek world, allowing artistic and intellectual progress to flourish at a rate which has never been matched. Their military and naval strength was aided significantly by their influx of funds from the mining of silver at Laurion.
The quantity of silver controlled by the Athenians allowed them to mint the authoritative coinage of ancient Greece, the thick and heavy Athenian “owl” Silver tetradrachm, which remains the most recognizable ancient coin today. This Athenian Owl were the largest silver coin of its time.
This particular Athenian coin is an early “transitional” Owl tetradrachm, part of a group of coins minted from the late 470s through to the early 445 BC. These issues are considered the pinnacle of artistic style in Athenian coinage and many note them as among the most attractive of all Greek coins. President Theodore Roosevelt kept an Athenian Owl tetradrachm in his pocket and was inspired to order the redesign of the U.S. coinage in the 20th century.