didrachm

One of the first owl coins of Athens: A Silver Didrachm, c 545-515 BC

This coin is in an exceptional state of preservation for this issue and is extremely rare. This  important didrachm was produced in the earliest phase of Athens’s minting, during the period of its “heraldic coinage” or “Wappenmünzen” series. These types of coins were thought to have been issued by different Athenian aristocratic families, with each type using a different animal or symbol, representing their family like a family crest. However it is possible that these were state-issued coins referring to different religious festivals. This type of owl was the predecessor to the famous coins known as “Athenian Owls”. It was the addition of Athena to the obverse, pairing her with that of her owl on the reverse that turned Athenian coins into “Owls.” This iconography continued on Athen’s silver coins for nearly 500 years.