The tetradrachm that this replica coin is based on was used at a time when Athens was the richest and most powerful city-state in the ancient Greek world. It was during this time that many of the great buildings on the Acropolis were built.
Many Greek city-states issued coins with images that were either a pun on the city’s name or depicted the patron goddess or god to show where the coin had come from. With this coin, the Athenians from Athens did both. On one side they stamped it with an image of Athena, their patron goddess after whom the city was named. On the other side they imprinted Athena’s faithful companion, the owl.
One side of this coin shows a head of Athena in right profile. She has an archaic smile and a frontal almond-shaped eye, an anachronistic style that was preferred for this coin type. On the other side, an owl stands with a two-leafed olive sprig in the top left corner. Legend says Athena brought the olive tree as her gift to Athens, in order to beat Poseidon in winning the favor of Zeus. The inscription, ΑΘΕ, located on the right, is an abbreviation of ATHENAION, “of the Athenians.”
Athenian “Owls,” as they were called, were minted in Athens for over four hundred years, beginning around 510 BCE. Although the style of these tetradrachm coins evolved, they retained the same basic design of Athena on one side and her patron owl on the reverse.
The Athenian Owl tetradrachm represented about a week’s pay for ancient Greek soldiers. It is said that President Teddy Roosevelt carried an Athenian Owl as a lucky piece and that it inspired him to redesign US coinage.
Measures 5/8″ 15cm in diameter
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