Often referred to as Owls or Silver Athenian Tetradrachms, Athenian Owl Coins are highly coveted by investors and collectors across the globe. These four-drachma coins were minted in Athens and became a recognized standard of value throughout Ancient Greece. Featuring incredible high-relief designs, Athenian Owl Coins were used in international trade, as well as to pay for war supplies and fund building projects in Athens.
The obverse of the Athenian Owl Coin displays a right-facing head of goddess Athena, the patron deity of Athens. She is wearing a helmet with a floral scroll and three olive leaves. On the reverse is an owl with closed wings staring directly at the viewer. To the left of the owl is an olive branch with three leaves and a moon crescent, and to the right are the letters AOE written downward and sideways. The meaning of AOE in Ancient Greece is of the Athenians.
While the Aegina Turtle Coin was the first to be accepted across international borders, the Athenian Owl Coin was struck in far more substantial numbers, leading it to travel much further across Greece and regions as distant as Arabia and India.
Many Ancient Greek Coins feature designs derived from mythology, and the Athenian Owl Coin is no exception. With goddess Athena on its obverse and her owl on the reverse, it’s clear that mythology was at the heart of everyday life in Ancient Greece.
The Athenians not only viewed Athena as the goddess of wisdom and war but also the one who protected civilized life. She was worshipped as the guardian of Athens; however, she was also a warrior who would lead soldiers into battle. Athena was different to other gods and goddesses in that she only supported those fighting for a just cause and tried her utmost to resolve conflict where she could. Although Athena was worshipped in many cities, the Athenians thought of her as their heroic protector, so much so, they named their city after her.
According to ancient Greek mythology, the owl was Athena’s mascot, and the olive tree was hers. The Athenians often referred to the bird as the “owl of Athena.” It was around 510 BC when the Athenians decided to put their beloved goddess on a coin, along with her symbols of the owl and olive tree. By focusing on coin designs inspired by ancient Greek religious and mythological traditions, the Athenians proved how deeply dedicated they were to their faith in Athena.
Athens took the chance to gain advantage from producing silver coins more than any other city in Greece. The Athenians had access to the Laurium mines, named the “fountain of running silver” by Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragedian. As the Laurium mines held vast deposits of argentiferous lead ores, the Athenians found a way to free silver from the lead. To achieve a metal that was 98 percent silver, they would heat molten metal in cupels (shallow containers in which silver can be refined) and expose it to the air.
The Athenians used the refined metal to strike their first Athenian Owl Coins, which resulted in the creation of the Attic silver standard. By making Athenian Owls to the then predominant standard of 4.3 grams per drachma, the coins forced other cities to replace their own currency with Athenian coins. The Athenian Owl Coins not only became the most popular coin in the Greek world but they also started the trend of putting the head of a god or legendary figure on one side of a coin, a tradition that has survived modern times.
If you’re looking for an Ancient Greek Coin to add to your collection, the Athenian Owl will not disappoint. Not only does this silver coin feature amazing handcrafted designs but it also gives you the opportunity to own a true piece of ancient Greek art and history.
As one of the most influential and important coins of all time, the Athenian Owl Coin was used for centuries and experienced only a few subtle changes. It was first minted around 510 BC and continued through the early fifth century BC when its design became more artistic and refined. By 449 BC, the obverse and reverse designs were tweaked again and mintage figures increased to keep up with demand. Later versions of the Athenian Owl Coin are more common than earlier issues, with prices dependent on both the rarity and condition of the coin.
When attempting to purchase an Athenian Owl Coin, we suggest you always seek help from a trusted dealer who can ensure you’re investing in an authentic coin. As these coins were handmade and widely circulated for many years, no two coins will be the same, making it harder for you to determine whether your coin is genuine.
For professional guidance on obtaining an authentic Athenian Owl Coin, please feel free to contact Capital Gold Group. We are able to provide you with all the advice you need and can even get hold this magnificent coin for your personal collection.