ATTICA, Athens. Circa 390-380 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 23mm, 17.15 g 9). Head of Athena with profile eye to right, wearing crested Attic helmet adorned with three olive leaves and palmette, round earring and pearl necklace. Rev. ΑΘΕ Owl standing right, head facing; behind, olive spray and crescent moon; all within broad, shallow incuse square. J. H. Kroll, Athenian Tetradrachm Coinage of the First Half of the Fourth Century BC,, RBN CLVII (2011), pp. 3-26 passim and fig. 1B = pl. I, 1 and pl. I, 2. SNG Munich 90. Svoronos pl. 19, 13-14. A rare variety. Beautifully toned, nicely centered and well struck on an unusually regular flan. Nearly extremely fine.
From a Swiss collection, ex Hess-Leu 36, 17 April 1968, 209 and J. Hirsch XXXIV, 5 May 1914, 345 (”Prachtexemplar und sehr selten”), and from the collections of H. O. O’Hagan, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 4 May 1908, 426, and Hobart Smith, Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 31 May 1897.
This is quite an outstanding early profile eye tetradrachm: the head has an almost archaistic character, as if the engraver was deliberately harking back to the style of the late 6th and earliest 5th centuries. The vast majority of Athenian tetradrachms of the 4th century come from the great re-coinage, are struck on folded flans and are usually misshapen. Coins like the present one, struck on a fresh flan earlier in the century, are much rarer, primarily because all those issues were called in and restruck in 353 (see the full discussion in Kroll, cited above).
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