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Heritage Auctions, Inc.   |   World Coins & Ancient Coins #3066   |   17 August 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 30033

Estimate: 5'000 USD   |   Starting price: 2'500 USD Price realized: 21'600 USD
ATTICA. Athens. Ca. 510-480 BC. AR tetradrachm (23mm, 17.16 gm, 9h). NGC AU S 4/5 - 4/5, Full Crest. Head of Athena right wearing crested Attic helmet, brow plate decorated with pellets, bowl with four leaves and single spiral and crest box ornamented with dotted chevron motif / AΘΕ, owl standing right with closed wings, head facing, olive sprig with berry and crescent behind, all within incuse square. HGC 4, 1590. Svoronos pl. 8, 4. Seltman Group M, 413. Starr 8. Rare! A little off-center, but well-struck and displaying a delightful late-archaic Athena with full crest. The raised pellets adorning Athena's brow plate are a seldom-seen feature on the archaic coinage of Athens, appearing on only two obverse dies in Seltman, both likely engraved by the same hand that produced this charming set of dies. The earliest "owl" coinage of Athens coincides with the momentous expulsion of the last tyrants and the city's adoption of the world's first democracy. The quality of this coinage veers sharply between dies of remarkable crudity, comprising most of the coins struck, and a limited number of issues displaying great refinement. The great disparity in artistic quality led Seltman to propose an 'imperial' mint in the Attic or Thracian hinterlands, staffed by artists of little or no talent, and a 'civic' mint whose engravers displayed the full virtues and vigor of archaic art. In the latter category falls this lovely tetradrachm struck in the last decade of the sixth century BC. The head of Athena exhibits a pleasant profile and her lips are drawn into a tight 'archaic smile'. The owl on the reverse is thick and stout, with a very curiously engraved interpretation of the olive sprig and berry including long leaves and branches, all with base toward the owl instead of away as is usual. There also appears to be a pellet between the horns of the crescent.HID05401242017

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