Greek Athenian tetradrachm

Denise N. writes: I have a coin that I haven’t been able to I.D. FRONT SIDE: Is a roman or greek or earlier time. BACK SIDE: Is an owl with the letters “AOE” written downward and sideway’s. The coin is oval shape and the metal look’s like pewter but has a copper underlay.The face is long way of the oval shape and the owl is top to bottom of the side to side shape. Is this at all familiar to anyone?? It look’s as if it has been pounded to get it’s shape not machine made. ANY IDEAS?

You have an Athenian tetradrachm (the coins usually seen date from 449-413 BC. The owl, symbolizing wisdom, is the symbol of the ancient Greek city-state of Athens. The letters (ΑΘΕ) are Alpha, Theta, Epsilon and are the abbreviation for the city-state. The obverse shows the head of Athena, patron goddess of wisdom and namesake of Athens, facing right wearing a crested helmet ornamented with three olive-leaves and floral scroll. The coins are die struck by hand.athens-tetradrachm

Though tetradrachms were minted in silver, the government of Athens later debased the coinage to bronze with a silver plating. Huge quantities of tetradrachms were made from silver appropriated from the Delian League to pay for building projects including refurbishing the city’s temples. The city went bankrupt covering this and the cost of the later Peloponnesian War.

If you wish, you can have the coin authenticated and attributed by a professional third-party grading service. See the Links Page.