Silver Athenian tetradrachms may be the most iconic ancient Greek
coins of all time.
A particularly nice example of this coinage highlighted Nomos Ag’s
Oct. 9 auction. The circa 440s to 430s B.C. coin in the Nomos sale,
listed as Extremely Fine by the auction house, realized a hammer price
of 2,000 Swiss francs ($2,062 in U.S. funds). The buyer’s fee is 20
percent, with additional fees varying depending on bidding method.
The obverse of these coins features the goddess Athena and an owl
appears on the reverse.
During the second half of the fifth century, Athens produced an
enormous quantity of silver tetradrachms, tapping its mines in Laurion
and the constant stream of tribute it received from the cities of the
Delian League. Tens of millions of tetradrachms were struck. The coins
served as an international currency prior to the time of Alexander and
were used not only to pay for goods and services, but as a trade good
in themselves, according to Nomos.
“Their purity was famous and they were often restruck into local
coins, as in Sicily, or melted down to serve as the raw material for
other coins or objects: the number of these coins that survive is but
an infinitesimal fraction of what once existed,” the firm reported in