The most prestigious edition is a decadrachm 3 cm in diameter weighing about 44 g. The increased surface enables figures of great beauty. On this denomination only, the owl is not shown in profile but in front with wings spread in sign of victory and a hypnotist gaze in its proudly straight head. Considering the dates of the hoards, this coin was minted around 465 BCE.
The great wealth of Athens was traditionally based on the Laurion silver mines. A little later Herodotus will tell that a surplus of exploitation has once been shared between the citizens.
Cimon's military success adds to the opulence. The booty taken from the Persians after the naval battle of Eurymedon circa 467 BCE is considerable. The capture of the island of Thasos in 463 BCE gives Athens the control of other important silver mines. Cimon was famous for his wealth, magnificence and practice of sharing. The circumstances of the creation of the decadrachm and its mode of use are however not known.
An Athens decadrachm was sold for $ 500K before fees by CNG (Classical Numismatic Group) on January 8-9, 2007. It comes back in the same auction house in New York on January 8, lot 211 estimated $ 500K, here also linked on The Saleroom bidding platform.
This coin is splendid by its surface condition, its perfect centering and the sharpness of its strike. The image is shared by Wikimedia with an attribution to CNG linked to the 2007 catalog http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5]
SOLD for $ 525K before fees