SALE 44 (December 1-6 2012)
1. Drachm of Edom (Hendin 1025 - UNIQUE, UNLISTED VARIETY) Struck around 370-350 B.C.E. Est.: $2,300 - 2,600 Final: $2,416 (3 bids: 1,751 - 2,301 - 3,284)
Contemporary to the Philistian and Yehud coins, the coins of Edom, with their curious dome-shaped obverse, are extreme rarities, especialy with such a beautiful reverse*. But the specimen offered here is unique: It is the single silver plated coin of Edom ever seen. Incidentally, it is also the single specimen known with a test cut. Both informations have been confirmed to me by the curator of numismatics at the Israel Museum this Saturday, December 1st. The Edomites (or Idumeans) are a people frequently mentioned in the Bible, where they are described as descendants of the patriarch Isaac. Their country, Edom (or Idumea), was located in the northern part of what is now the Negev. The Edomites were the ancestors of Judaea's most famous dynasty, the Herodians. Unlike their neighbours, the Jews from the province of Yehud and the Philistines, the Edomites only issued a single coin type, in two denominations: The drachm, like the one offered here (around 3.5 grams), and the obol (around 0.7 grams). The reverse shows an imitation of the classic Athenian owl, but on obverse, the head of Athena is replaced by a dome that makes this coin very thick. This coin type is very rare: Not more than 6-7 specimens have been offered in auctions in the last 10 years** and most of the specimens known are in national and private collections in Israel)
* For the most in-depth study ever published on the subject, read Gitler, Tal, Van Alfen: Silver Dome-shaped Coins from Persian-period Southern Palestine, Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 2 (2007)
** We had the privilege to offer an exeptional one in our sale 39.
2. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. Large denomination (Hendin 1169) struck year 37 B.C.E. Est.: $2,000 - 2,500 Final: $3,156 (6 bids: 1,750 - 1,750 - 2,000 - 2,410 - 3,006 - 3,753)
3. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. (Hendin 1190) Struck around 10 B.C.E in Jerusalem Est.: $900 - 1,200 Final: $840 (4 bids: 775 - 775 - 800 - 850)
Of the 380 specimens I have classified to date for the type (click here), this coin definitely shows the most beautiful, the most majestic and the best preserved eagle I have ever seen. Beautifully cleaned and restored by David Hendin in 2009.
4. Herod Archelaus 4 B.C.E.-6 C.E. (Hendin 1196) Struck around year 1 C.E. in Jerusalem Est.: $500 - 600 Final: UNSOLD
Exceptional specimen with its 100% original encrustations. Even on coins cleaned and restored, it is almost impossible to see such an obverse side with a complete border of dots. The reverse is also at its best here because it has been struck with an oversized die, larger than the flans. Interestingly, it is easy to see, on this coin, that the reverse die was about 20% larger than the obverse die. This important detail shows that, on this coin type, the reverse is the obverse! The phenomenon of oversized obverse dies on many Judaean coin types is fascinating: It has been initiated under the Hasmoneans, then it culminated under Herod the Great who sometimes used obverse dies 200% larger than the reverse dies (see Type 9, pair O5-R5). The oversized obverse dies were still in use under the procurators as well as under the two Jewish revolts. I have always failed to find a convincing explain for this phenomenon.
5. Herod Antipas 4 B.C.E - 40 C.E. (Hendin 1212) Struck year 33 C.E. in Tiberias Est.: $2,000 - 2,500 Final: $2,572 (6 bids: 1,650 - 2,000 - 2,051 - 2,275 - 2,450 - 2,650)
This is the finest specimen known for this type, which is one of the poorest ever struck under Antipas (click here). It must be noted that the coins of this type, like the other large or medium denominations of Antipas, are frequently improved by tooling (destructive and irreversible) or painting (non destructive and reversible). Ex collection of Dr. Travis.
6. Valerius Gratus 15-26 C.E. (Hendin 1336) Struck year 17 C.E. in Jerusalem Est.: $800 - 1,000 Final: $1,318 (8 bids: 750 - 750 - 750 - 800 - 925 - 1,100 - 1,256 - 1,425)
Like Hendin 1337, this coin type is generally considered as showing the best artistic quality under the time of the procurators of Judaea (6 C.E.- 62 C.E.), and this specimen is definitely the finest known on obverse (note the complete border of dots), with a reverse side far above average. With its strong strike on both sides and its perfect metal surfaces, this coin seems to have not been affected by time.
7. First Jewish Revolt (Hendin 1360) Struck year 67-68 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem Est.: $300 - 400 Final: $288 (3 bids: 250 - 275 - 310)
Beautifull and well preserved specimen with a complete inscription on both sides. Not more than 3-5% of the coins come like this for the type.
SALE 43 (November 1-5 2012)
1. Matatayah Antigonus 40-37 B.C.E. (Hendin 1164) Est.: $200 - 250 Final: $212 (5 bidders: 150 - 165 - 175 - 202 - 350)
This coin type always comes in poor condition with a very partial obverse for a simple reason: The obverse dies were much larger than the flans on which they were struck, so it is impossible to find a single specimen showing the complete patterns on the obverse. Even the composite pictures I have created for this type are still not complete in spite of the 202 specimens I have listed to date (click here)! So the specimen offered here is much better than usual on obverse with a 100% complete and well detailled inscription. Unfortunately, the reverse is poor and partial.
2. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. Large denomination (Hendin 1169) struck year 37 B.C.E. Est.: $1,000 - 1,300 Final: $1,577 (7 bidders: 850 - 1,000 - 1,020 - 1,225 - 1,250 - 1,502 - 1,600)
Magnificent specimen on both sides, struck by the pair of dies O23-R112 in our book and on Menorah Coin Project (click here). That the 3 leaves decorating the helmet be well visible on this specimen is remarkable: It shows that this coin has been struck by a pair of fresh dies. The leaves were originaly present on all of the 31 obverse dies cut for striking this coin type, but on more than 90% of the coins, the helmet's bowl seems to be flat and undecorated. The reason is simple: The leaves were delicate details and they were also the deepest relief engraved on the die (the highest relief on coins), so they were first to be affected and erased by worn during the striking process. As discussed in our book, we have now firmly established that this sophisticated, decorated helmet was the parade helmet of Herod himself, as the regular helmet depicted on the medium denomination (click here) was the one of his soldiers (their shield is depicted on the other side). In other words, the large denomination is an hommage to the king as the medium denomination is an hommage to his soldiers. Both types celebrate the victory of Herod and his army over Matatayah Antigonus, and, retrospecively, the end of the reign of the Hasmonaeans and the rise of the Herodian dynasty.
3. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. undated prutah (Hendin 492 in GBC IV) struck in Jerusalem Est.: $600 - 750 Final: $634 (4 bidders: 450 - 450 - 604 - 695)
This is the finest and most complete specimen ever seen for this rare prutah depicting the cross under the diadem (instead of inside the diadem as usual). The pair of dies is O1-R2 (click here). The two breaks visible at right of the diadem probably explain the scarcity of this coin type: The obverse die may have been prematurely ruined by breaks. The coin is also shown before cleaning, at top.
4. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. (Hendin 1173) Struck in Jerusalem Est.: $750 - 850 Final: $600 (3 bidders: 575 - 575 - 600)
Of the 65 specimens listed in our book and on Menorah Coin Project (click here), this is the best specimen known for this rare coin type. The inscription on the obverse is 100% complete (the 2 last letters 'OY', located at the bottom after delta, are mixed together), and the anchor on reverse is complete and perfectly centered.
5. Pontius Pilate 26-36 C.E. (Hendin 1342) Struck year 30 in Jerusalem Est.: $325 - 400 Final: UNSOLD
Beautiful and rare barbarous specimen with an almost complete inscription on obverse: The letter 'P' is retrograde in 'TIBEPIOY' and is missing in 'KAICAPOC', and the letters 'A' are crudely cut (like an upside-down 'Y'). On reverse, the date is completely retrograde, but only the letters 'IZ' are visible on this specimen. The letter 'L' was well present on the original die, but it is missing on this coin due to a little defect on the flan in this area.
6. First Jewish Revolt (Hendin 1369) Struck year 69-70 C.E. in Jerusalem Est.: $1,200 - 1,500 Final: $1,942 (10 bidders: 875 - 1,002 - 1,015 - 1,262 - 1,400 - 1,500 - 1,753 - 1,800 - 1,850 - 2,000)
This beauty is not one of the finest specimens known, it is THE finest! Of the 329 coins I have listed to date (click here), only 4-5 of them show such a beautiful obverse (a bit more than 1%) but no other shows such a perfect reverse. This coin cumulates the 3 conditions for a coin to be at its best (on both sides): 1) Good centering 2) Strong strike 3) Good preservation.
8. Collection of 10 cut Judaean coins Est.: $1,300 - 1,600 Final: $1,102 (2 bidders: 1,050 - 1,200)
It took five years to me to assemble this little collection of 10 cut coins. Most of them are extreme rarities (1 to 3 specimens known - rated RRR). Ancient coins were sometimes cut to make smaller change, but the phenomenon was rare in Judaea: For the coin types issued during the period running from the time of Herod the Great to the First Revolt, only around 0.5% of coins are cut (0.38% for the large denomination of Herod, 0.61% for the eighth shekel of the 4th year of the First Revolt). However, the phenomenon of cut coins became more frequent during the Bar Kochba war (1.5-2% of some types in bronze were cut). The most famous cut coin is probably a dekadrachm of Athens sold 5 years ago by CNG (click here).
1. Large denomination of Herod the Great (struck year 37 B.C.E.), Hendin 1169, pair of dies O12-R43 in our book. Extremely rare: of the 771 specimens we have listed for the type (click here), only 3 are cut (0.38%), two of them are in this lot (coins #1 & 2).
2. Large denomination of Herod the Great (struck year 37 B.C.E.), Hendin 1169, pair of dies O15-R49 in our book. This is the 2nd of the 3 cut coins known for the type. Also note the double strike.
3. Prutah of the procurator Pontius Pilate (struck year 30 C.E.), Hendin 1342. Interestingly, this coin is a crude variety, previously unlisted. It is the first time I see a cut coin of Pilate (in our book The Coins of Pontius Pilate, published in 2001, we had no cut coin to present)
4. Prutah of the procurator Antonius Felix (struck year 54 C.E.), Hendin 1348. This is the single cut specimen I have seen for the type.
5. Prutah of the 3rd year of the First Revolt (struck year 68 C.E.), Hendin 1363. This is the single cut specimen I have seen for the type.
6. Eighth shekel of the 4th year of the First Revolt (struck year 69 C.E.), Hendin 1369. This cut specimen is an extreme rarity, it is the 2nd I have ever seen (out of 329 I have listed, click here). The only other cut specimen known for the type has been sold by David Hendin 13 years ago (List 70, May 1999, coin #58)
7. Bar Kochba, middle bronze struck year 3 of the revolt (134-135 C.E.), Hendin 1436. Very rare. This coin is a bit enigmatic: The cut edge is at left as the normal, rounded edge is at right. It should be the opposite, unless this coin was very off-centered. But to my knowledge, the off-centered coins of Bar Kochba are very rare.
8. Bar Kochba, middle bronze struck year 3 of the revolt (134-135 C.E.), Hendin 1437. Of the 10 coins offered here, it is, by far, the most frequently cut coin type (about 2%). Incidentally, another example is offered here.
9. Hendin H1437 again, but a quarter. Extreme rarity, only 2-3 other examples are known.
10. City of Sebaste (Samaria), struck year 198 C.E., SNG-ANS 1080. This coin depicts the portrait of Julia Domna, wife of the emperor Septimius Severus. To see the complete coin, click here. Apparently, it is the single cut specimen known for the type. The portrait is very well preserved because only a third of the coin has been removed.
SALE 41 (September 1-6 2012)
1. Alexander Jannaeus (104-76 B.C.E.) struck in Jerusalem (Hendin 1148v) Est.: $800 - 1,000 Final: Unsold
This specimen shows a fantastic obverse, which is the most important side for the type. Not a single dot of the border is missing! The reverse is partial but the anchor is complete and the two-third of the inscription is well visible. However, it must be noted that the reverse is NEVER complete on this coin type because it has been struck by a reverse die that was about 5-15% larger than the flan. The size difference between the obverse and reverse dies is easy to see on this coin. The comparison of this specimen to the plate coin N3 in TJC is interesting: They do not depict the same obverse die, but both dies have been cut by the same hand. The little square at top of the circle of dots on obverse is extremely rare and enigmatic: it is also present on the die O1 of the rare type Hendin 1147 (click here). So it is very possible that, here again, we have the same hand.
2. Herod the Great (40-6 B.C.E.) struck around year 25 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1186) Est.: $700 - 800 Final: Unsold
This coin type is one of the poorest - if not the poorest - ever struck in Judaea. All the specimens known are in a terrible condition (28 are listed to date, see them here). Moreover, the obverse dies were super-oversized (much larger than the flans on which they were struck), so in general, only 20 to 40% of the obverse is visible on coins. However, in spite of its modest appearance, this coin is important and desirable: It is one of the two rarest coin types ever issued by the most famous king of Judaea: Herod the Great. On this type, the most important side is the reverse, depicting the palm branch (the obverse shows the usual tripod table surrounded by the same inscription as on the other types).
3. Herod Archelaus (4 B.C.E.-6 C.E.) 2-prutot struck around year 1 C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1194) Est.: $750 - 950 Final: $650 (1 bid 650)
Beautiful specimen comparable to the Hendin's (H1194) and Meshorer's (TJC 70b) plate coins, and perfectly centered on both sides. On the reverse, the inscription is retrograde (with a 'cursive omega' at 5:00), but it is not so rare on this coin type. This type, which is the largest denomination ever issued under Archelaus, is most probably inspired by the poor but exciting type with galley - Hendin 1191 - issued about 15 years earlier by his father Herod the Great to commemorate the foundation of the port of Caesarea.
5. Pontius Pilate (26-36 C.E.) Struck year 30 C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1342) Est.: $900 - 1,100 Final: $848 (6 bids: 775 - 775 - 791 - 800 - 808 - 865)
This spectacular, hallucinogenic piece is, indeed, a double struck coin of Pontius Pilate. This phenomenon is rare. In the time of the procurators, it affected less than 1% of the coins struck (a bit more under Antonius Felix). But the unique piece offered here is much more than a normal double strike: If the 'double lituus' is so perfectly aligned on this coin, it is certainly not by chance. The coin maker who struck this coin deliberately choose to create a 'crazy' specimen. It is even possible that, after having double struck a coin by error and saw the resulting interwoven patterns, he decided to renew the experience by trying to make something amazing, unexpected, but coherent. It is not the first time a coin maker creates his own 'fantasy coin' from a regular pair of dies. Another fascinating example is known: It is a large denomination of Herod the Great, but struck by two reverse dies (pair R111-R119 in our book). 3 years ago, David Hendin wrote about this coin that it 'might have been deliberately made as a "die-maker's souvenir" '. There is little doubt it is also the case here.
6. First Jewish Revolt (May 66- September 70 C.E.), Struck year 67 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1360) Est.: $550 - 750 Final: $526 (3 bids: 450 - 501 - 675)
Superb specimen with complete inscription on both sides. Nice centering.
7. First Jewish Revolt (May 66- September 70 C.E.), Struck year 68 C.E. (year 3 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1363) Est.: $1,000 - 1,200 Final: $900 (4 bids: 900 - 900 - 900 - 900)
Exceptional specimen, the best I have ever seen for the type. Far above the Hendin's (H-1363) and Meshorer's (TJC-204) plate coins. Perfectly centered, strong strike, superb eye appeal.
8. First Jewish Revolt (May 66- September 70 C.E.), Struck year 69 C.E. (year 4 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1364) Est.: $32,000 - 36,000 Final: $29,500 (3 bids: 29,500 - 29,500 - 29,500)
Here is the finest known shekel of the 4th year of the First Revolt (click here to compare to the 39 other specimens known). It is the first time I see the dies O1-R10 paired together. Interestingly, when this coin has been struck, the obverse die O1 was brand new, as the reverse R10 had already been used for striking coins and was affected by some light corrosion in the blank fields at top. It was not so rare that a fresh obverse die was paired to a 'second hand' reverse, but the reason is a bit obscure to us. No need to say that the reverse of this coin remains, however, far above average. Also note the little dot connected to the right of the stem under the middle pomegranate: it is the mark left by the pick of the compass used by the engraver when he drawn, on the die, the circle on which he would cut the dots of the border. In most cases, this dot was masked when the engraver cut the middle stem of the pomegranates, but several dies are known, from the 1st to the 4th years, where the stem is not adjusted enough to mask the central dot. (From the time of Herod the Great to the First Revolt - at least - the circle of dots was the very first thing to be cut on a die. The central illustration was second, and the inscription was the last thing to be cut.)
9. City coin of Akko-Ptolemais, struck under Nero (54-68 C.E.). RPC 4751 Est.: $450 - 550 Final: $367 (3 bids: 350 - 350 - 410)
Rare coin type in a beautiful condition with its original desert encrustations. This coin has been struck under Nero in Akko-Ptolemais, where a Christian community was already well established at this time. Interestingly, a specimen struck by the same pair of dies has been sold 4 years ago (click here).
Other Materpieces we have sold in 2012: