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 ARCHIVES 2014

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SALE 68 (December 1-8 2014)

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1. Drachm of Edom, struck around 370-350 B.C.E. (GBC 1025) 3.47 g.

 Start: $625  Est. $1,000-1,200  Final: $735 (2 bids: 700 - 1,100)

A rare dome-shaped drachm of Edom*, in superb condition. Much better than the GBC plate coin (#1205). The owl is in high relief and perfectly detailed.

* Read: Gitler, Tal, Van Alfen: Silver Dome-shaped Coins from Persian-period Southern Palestine, Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 2 (2007)

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2. Herod the Great, double prutah struck ca. 30 B.C.E in Jerusalem (GBC 1178) 3.94 g.

 Start: $450  Est. $600-700  Final: $551 (3 bids: 500 - 525 - 602)

Struck by the pair of dies O23-R5 in our book (plate 41), this is one of the finest specimens known for the type. The little, oval flaw under the table on recverse is a die break visible on all the coins struck by R5. At 9:15 on obverse, after the letters 'HP', the letter omega seems to be replaced by a 'V'. It is not a mistake. This amazing, simplified form of omega (here upside-down) was used by one of the engravers of Herod on all the dies he cut.

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3. Herod Antipas, full denomination struck year 33 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1211) 14.61 g.

 Start: $1,250  Est. $2,000-2,500  Final: $3,499 (6 bids: 2,178 - 2,675 - 3,000 - 3,250 - 3,333 - 4,250)

Struck by the pair of dies O1-R1, this piece is the 2nd finest known for the type*. But the most interesting detail on this coin is probably the perfect appendage located at bottom left of the palm branch on reverse (see enlargement). Present on all the reverse dies of this coin type, this appendage was previously unnoticed in the numismatic literature. There are 2 reasons for this: 1) This coin type is one of the poorest ever struck under Herod Antipas. 2) Only tiny outlines of this object have been cut and they have been prematurely smoothed and erased during the striking process (it was also the case of the tiny leaves cut on the helmet bowl on the large denomination of Herod the Great). In our forthcoming book The Coinage of Herod Antipas, we discuss about the identification of this detail.

* The finest known is in the famous collection of A. Sofaer (see the GBC 1211 plate coin)

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4. Herod Antipas, half denomination struck year 33 C.E. in Tiberias  (GBC 1212) 6.36 g.

 Start: $950  Est. $1,500-2,000  Final: $2,493 (4 bids: 1,050 - 1,118 - 2.375 - 2,850)

Struck on the same year as the previous coin, here is another superb coin of Antipas, one of the finest known, clear and well centered on both sides. Note the die break on the reverse at 7:30, running from the letter 'P' to the middle of the palm branch. Pair of dies O2-R16 (click here). Interestingly, it is the single coin known from this reverse die. It probably means that the break grew rapidly and that this die only struck a very few coins.

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5. Herod Philip, AE 18 mm, struck year 1/2 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1220) 4.71 g.

 Start: $13,500  Est. $16,000-18,000  Final: $26,880 (4 bids: 16,803 - 22,000 - 25,600 - 31,000)

Depicting a portrait of 25/6 years old Philip the Tetrarch, this coin is of considerable importance for several reasons: 1) It is, by far, the rarest coin type ever struck by Philip (only 3 other specimens are known, click here). 2) This coin bears the earliest extant Jewish portrait found on any medium*. 3) The portrait of Philip is the only known portrait of a ruler of a territory that Jesus visited**. 4) Of all the other coin types ever struck under Philip, this type shows the most detailed temple*** (the lily flower on the pediment and the horizontal grid between the pediment and the columns are not present on the other coin types - see coin #6 below).

This is the second time this coin type has been offered for sale in that last 30 years or so. The first time was almost 3 years ago, in the Heritage-Shoshana auction (click here). One of the three specimens known is part of the Israel Museum collection and the other two are in private collections (formerly in the famous Hendin and Shoshana collections respectively). This coin is also remarkable because the portrait of Philip and the temple depicted on the other side are in superb condition, better than the GBC plate coin.

* Read our detailed article on the subject: Herod Philip: The First Jewish Portrait, published in Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 6

** Matthew 16:13  (Ca. 27-29 C.E.)

*** This temple is the Augusteum in Caesarea Philippi

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6. Herod Philip, struck year 8/9 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1221a) 9.31 g.

 Start: $1,450  Est. $1,700-2,000  Final: $1,581 (4 bids: 1,450 - 1,500 - 1,506 - 1,609)

GBC 1221a is an extremely rare variety with a completely retrograde reverse (date and inscription)*. The portrait of Augustus is excellent, much better than the one sold 3 years ago at the famous Heritage-Shoshana auction (click here). This portrait might have been inspired from a Roman coin depicting Augustus in his earlier years of reign, as he was in his forties.

* Not more than 4-5 examples are known to me.

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7. Valerius Gratus 15-26 C.E. Struck year 16 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1334) 1.80 g.

 Start: $325  Est. $400-500  Final: $530 (4 bids: 410 - 475 - 505 - 650)

An exceptional example of one of the scarcest coin types of Valerius Gratus. The double cornucopia & caduceus on obverse are inspired from the classic Hasmonaean and Herodian coins.

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8. Antonius Felix 52-59 C.E. Struck 54 C.E in Jerusalem  (GBC 1348) 2.11 g.

 Start: $275  Est. $350-400  Final: UNSOLD

A very nice example for this coin type, with complete inscriptions on both sides. Better than the GBC plate coin.

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9. First Jewish Revolt, quarter shekel struck between April 69 and March 70 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1368) 8.00 g.

 Start: $4,250  Est. $7,000-8,000  Final: $7,665 (8 bids: 5,118 - 5,888 - 6,300 - 6,975 - 7,000 - 7,000 - 7,300 - 7,700)

A superb example of one of the most sought-after coin types of the First Revolt, very hard to find even in average or poor condition. The inscriptions are clear and complete on both sides, and great details are visible on the etrog. Struck by the pair of dies O4-R7 (click here, a single other specimen is known from this pair). Partially cleaned, could be professionally restored.

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10. Judaea Capta under Titus, struck in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1449) 10.41 g.

 Start: $325  Est. $450-550  Final: $787 (5 bids: 500 - 551 - 625 - 750 - 1,055)

The double strike are exceedingly rare on the Judaea Capta coins. This piece - the first I have seen- shows a nice one on the reverse. Some porosity on obverse.

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SALE 67 (November 1-10 2014)

 

1. Mattatiyah Antigonus 40-37 B.C.E. full denomination (GBC 1162) 15.34 g.

 Start: $725  Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,312 (4 bids: 1,010 - 1,100 - 1,250 - 2,100)

A superb and impressive specimen, the 2nd finest known for the type, with a fantastic obverse. To compare this piece to 209 other coins from the same type, please click here. The inscription in paleo-Hebrew bears a few errors, but it is common on this coin type.

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2. Herod the Great, half-prutah struck year 25-22 B.C.E. (Hendin 1186) 0.81 g.

 Start: $425  Est. $550-650  Final: $425 (1 bid: 700)

A very nice example for this coin type always found in terrible condition. Struck by the pair of dies O4-R1 (plate 73 in our book or click here), the quality of the palm branch on reverse is exceptional. This is the second rarest type ever struck under Herod the Great (only 29 other specimens are recorded to date).

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3. Herod the Great, half prutah struck ca. 13 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1190) 1.02 g.

 Start: $425  Est.: $500-600  Final: $698 (5 bids: 425 - 575 - 601 - 665 - 855)

An interesting variety in exceptional condition: The obverse bears the most complete inscription known for the type (11 letters instead of 9). Pair of dies O26-R38 in our book (plate 86). Also note the nice, perfectly centered eagle on the reverse.

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4. Herod the Great, half prutah struck ca. 17 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1191) 0.94 g.

 Start: $450  Est.: $600-700  Final: $630 (3 bids: 455 - 600 - 900)

A nice coin struck by the remarkable and rare reverse die R21. Of the 23 recorded reverse dies ever cut to strike this coin type, R21 shows the most sophisticated galley with its well detailed spur in two sections and its tridimensional effect showing the oars on both sides. This is the 7th example known to be struck by R21, and the finest. Struck by an oversized die, the obverse side is partial as always.

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5. Herod Archelaus, struck ca. 1 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1196) 1.53 g.

 Start: $225  Est. $350-550  Final: $315 (3 bids: 255 - 300 - 355)

An exceptional coin on both sides, much better than the GBC and TJC plate coins.

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6. Herod Antipas, quarter denomination struck year 20 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1201) 4.15 g.

 Est.:  Start: $1,250  Est. $1,500-2,000  Final: $2,100 (5 bids: 1,333 - 1,600 - 1,770 - 2,000 - 2,500)

A coin of exceptional quality on both sides, one of the 3-4 finest known for the type (out of 86 specimens listed to date, click here). Struck by the pair of dies O2-R4.

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7. Herod Antipas, full denomination struck year 29-30 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1203) 9.56 g.

 Start: $1,250  Est. $1,700-2,000  Final: $3,465 (6 bids: 2,000 - 2,600 - 3,000 - 3,005 - 3,300 - 4,200)

Another superb coin of Antipas (full denomination), in exceptional condition for the type. It is the 3rd finest known out of 54 specimens recorded to date (click here).

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8. Valerius Gratus, struck year 18-19 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1339) 1.67 g.

 Start: $225  Est. $300-350 Final: Unsold

A nice example for this relatively common coin type usually found in poor condition and partial.

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9. Pontius Pilate, struck year 29-30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1341) 2.36 g.

 Start: $525  Est. $750-850  Final: $788 (5 bids: 600 - 656 - 700 - 751 - 1,100)

Struck on the same year as the coin of Antipas #7 above (crucifixion year), here is an exceptional coin of Pontius Pilate with a perfectly centered obverse. Not only the inscription is complete, but each letter is also complete (the bottom of the letters 'KAIC' at 10:00-11:00 are  crossed by a tiny die break). The reverse is a bit of centered at left but it remains above average (two letters at 9:00 and a part of the ear of grain at left are missing).

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10. Bar Kochba Revolt (Hendin 1378) Struck year 133-134 C.E. (2nd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem 14.40 g.

 Start: $1,450 Est.: $2,000 - 2,500  Final: $2,333 (6 bids: 1,518 - 1,800 - 2,000 - 2,140 - 2,222 - 2,551)

An uncleaned but impressive specimen of exceptional quality on both sides, better than the Meshorer's and Mildenberg's plate coins (TJC 222 - Mild. 45). This coin is very similar to the exceptional one we offered in our sale 45 (coin #5, click here).

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11. Bar Kochba Revolt, zuz struck year 134-135 C.E. (3rd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1418) 3.16 g.

 Start: $650  Est.: $800-1,000  Final: $855 (4 bids: 800 - 810 - 850 - 855)

A nice example with a well detailed jug and willow branch and a complete inscription.

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SALE 66 (October 1-6 2014)

1. Yehud, pre-Ptolemaic period, struck ca. 358 B.C.E. (GBC 1057) 0.56 g.

 Start: $1,450  Est. $2,000-3,000   Final: $4,042 (6 bids: 1,515 - 1,750 - 3,111 - 3,500 - 3,850 - 4,500)

An exceptional coin, as beautiful as the GBC and TJC plate coins (such a nice condition on both sides is exceedingly rare). This coin is definitely one of the 3 finest known for the type (click here to see the 111 specimens listed to date). Uncleaned.

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2. Alexander Jannaeus (104-76 B.C.E.) prutah struck in Jerusalem (GBC 1148v) 3.04 g.

 Start: $575  Est. $700-900   Final: $1,060 (4 bids: 827 - 1,000 - 1,010 - 1,200)

This specimen shows a remarkable obverse, which is the most important side for the type. Not a single dot of the border is missing! The reverse is partially off-centered indeed, but this side is NEVER complete because the reverse dies were 10-15% larger than the flans on which they were struck. The coin is the finest we have seen since the exceptional one we sold in March 2009 (see picture at left, or our archives 2009). Much better than the GBC and TJC plate coins (GBC 1148-1148v & TJC Series N, plate 27). Also note the weight, almost 2 times heavier than usual.

Note that this coin is the rare variety GBC 1148v, with a 'cursive style' inscription, generally associated to this enigmatic little square at top of the border of dots on obverse (see also TJC #N5, plate 27). Interestingly, the engraver who cut the few dies of this variety also cut the die O1 of the extremely rare type GBC 1147 (click here).

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3. Alexander Jannaeus (104-76 B.C.E.) prutah struck in Jerusalem (GBC 1150) 3.54 g.

 Start: $675  Est. $800-1,000   Final: $1,365 (4 bids: 1,050 - 1,200 -1,300 - 1,650)

Another fantastic coin of Jannaeus, quasi impossible to find in such a beautiful condition and perfectly centered on both sides. Probably the finest known specimen, far above the GBC and TJC plate coins (GBC 1150-1150a & TJC Series K, plate 25). This remarkable coin is also 2 times heavier than usual (3.54 g instead of 1.71 g.)*

* These heavy specimens (they might be double prutot) are generally found in Jordan, but in the time of Jannaeus, most of the inhabited areas of Jordan were part of his kingdom.

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4. Herod the Great (40-4 B.C.E.) Large denomination struck year  37 B.C.E. (GBC 1169) 6.45 g.

 Start: $725  Est.: $1,000-1,200   Final: $892 (3 bids: 800 - 850 - 1,333)

A superb specimen of series II struck by the pair of dies O7-R34 in our book (plate 9)*. The inscription and illustrations are excellent and well centered on both sides, only the palm branch at right of the helmet is worn. Between the 2 cheek pieces of the helmet, a die break is visible. This coin, with its exceptional, quasi perfect centering on both sides, well shows the difference of size of both dies: The obverse die with the helmet (here at right) is 10-15% larger than the reverse die with the tripod**.

* 31 obverse and 122 reverse dies are listed for the type.

** This fact is very frequent on the Judaean coins, from the Hasmoneans to Bar Kochba, but it is unfortunately obscure. If the oversized dies were always the obverse dies, one could speculate that it was for a better stability during the striking process (the obverse die was the lower one), but it is not the case. On the shekels of the First Revolt for example, the reverse dies with the pomegranates are about 5% larger than the obverse dies with the chalice.

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5. Herod the Great (40-4 B.C.E.) prutah struck ca. 26-22 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1175a) 0.92 g.

 Start: $325  Est.: $500-600   Final: $325 (1 bid: 515)

This is probably one of the crudest coin types ever struck in Judaea (see 256 specimens listed here). However, it is an interesting type with its fancy inscription in concentric circles on obverse and the various decorations of the circle around the anchor on reverse (here with stylized lily flowers). The reverse die is R70 in our book (plate 70) but the obverse is unlisted. This coin is in a much better condition than usual, with an almost complete (abbreviated) inscription and a nice reverse.

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6. Herod the Great (40-4 B.C.E.) prutah struck ca. 28-27 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1182) 1.37 g. (top) - 1.25 g. (bottom)

 Start: $425  Est.: $600-700   Final: $630 (3 bids: 600 - 600 - 800)

An interesting set of 2 rare coins, both in exceptional condition for the type and struck by the same pair of dies (O2-R4 in our book, plate 53). Only 4 other coins are known from this pair.

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7. Pontius Pilate, prutah struck year 30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342) 2.16 g.

 Start: $550  Est. $750-950   Final: $550 (1 bid: 850)

A relatively common coin type, but exceedingly rare in this condition. Not only the inscription is complete, but EACH letter is also complete and the centering is indeed perfect. Since 15 years I do research on Judaean-Biblical coins, I have seen about a dozen of coins of Pilate with the simpulum in such a beautiful condition, but not more than half a dozen of examples with the lituus like this one. The reason is simple: The 2 coins types of Pilate (the one with the simpulum and the ones with the lituus) have all been struck on the same flans, but the dies bearing the lituus are about 10-15% larger than the ones with the simpulum. Consequently, the coins with the lituus showing a complete inscription and complete letters are about 2 times rarer than the ones in similar condition with the simpulum.

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8. First Jewish Revolt, prutah struck year 67-68 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1360) 2.69 g.

 Start: $375  Est. $450-650   Final: $525 (2 bids: 500 - 700)

A superb specimen with a nice centering and complete inscription on both sides (a complete inscription is exceedingly rare on the reverse). The most minute details (foot of the amphora on obverse and leaf on reverse) are well visible due to a strong strike. A little defect that was on the original flan is still visible on the body of the amphora at left.

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9. Minima of Caesarea, half-prutah struck ca. 68-70 C.E. in Caesarea Maritima (TJC 368) 0.72 g.

 Start: $325  Est. $450-500   Final: $687 (3 bids: 515 - 655 - 787)  

An interesting Minima of Caesarea imitating the famous prutah of the 3rd year of the First Jewish Revolt, in a much better condition than the TJC plate coin. To learn more on the subject, read the A. Kogon article in the present issue of Israel Numismatic Research: New Details and Notes on Some Minimi of Caesarea.

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10. Gaius Licinius Mucianus, AE 30 mm struck year 69 C.E. in Antioch (GBC IV 936) 16.15 g.

 Start: $925  Est. $1,500-2,000   Final: $2,115 (4 bids: 1,500 - 1,800 - 2,015 - 2,370)

A fascinating and very rare coin of the general Gaius Licinius Mucianus, imperial legate of the province of Syria during the First Revolt. The portrait is the one of Otho, but the name of Mucianus ('MOYKIANOY') is written on the reverse*. Struck during the 4th year of the revolt, this piece is an important complement to any collection of coins of the First Revolt. This large, heavy coin is the finest known of a few examples recorded (RPC 4316 lists only 5 specimens).

* The legend says: "Under Mucianus, of the Antiochenes, year 117". 'Of the Antiochenes' is just the Greek way of stating that the coin was an issue of Antioch. The date '117' is based on the Caesarean era beginning in 49 BCE.

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11. Hadrian Judaea Adventus, sestertius struck year 136-138 C.E. in Rome (GBC 1604a) 24.35 g.

 Start: $12,500  Est. $20,000-25,000   Final: $14,176 (3 bids: 12,500 - 13,501 - 15,000)

This superb and very rare Judaea Adventus sestertius commemorating the travel of emperor Hadrian in Judaea in 130-135 CE is the SINGLE Roman imperial coin type to associate this emperor to Judaea*. Hadrian began his travel to the East (Judaea, Syria and Palestine) in 130 CE, but due to the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135 CE), he stayed in the region and only returned to Rome in 135-136 CE. The Judaea Adventus sestertius were thus struck shortly after the end of the revolt of Bar Kochba, like many Judaea Capta coin types were struck shortly after the end of the First Revolt.

If one compares the Judaea Adventus coin to some of the most eloquent Judaea Capta coin types, the parallel of the allegorical illustrations on the reverse is striking (see picture at left). In both cases, we have two main figures: on the left, the symbol of the Roman authority (Vespasian on the Judaea Capta coin, Hadrian on the Adventus coin) and on the right, a female symbol of Judaea (mourning Jewess on the Judaea Capta coin, Judaea personified on the Adventus coin). However, there is an important difference: on the Judaea Capta coin type, the Roman authority is clearly dominating and humiliating, as on the Adventus coin, we have a peaceful tribute scene between the two same authorities as on the Judaea Capta coin. Of course, on the Adventus coin, the raised, 'professorial' right hand of Hadrian, in opposition to the lowered right hand of Judaea, shows 'who is the boss', but there is nothing humiliating in this scene, unlike the one on the Judaea Capta coin. For these two coin types struck in Rome after two victorious wars in Judaea, the difference is remarkable.

Interestingly, another specimen from the same series GBC 1604 is presently available on the market, but in a much poorer condition.

* The legend on the obverse reads: 'Of the arrival of the emperor in Judea'.

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SALE 65 (September 1-8 2014)

1. Herod the Great, prutah struck ca. 24 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1175) 1.06 g.

 Start: $375  Est.: $450-600   Final: $474 (3 bids: 450 - 452 - 475)

This reverse die is one of the most enigmatic dies of Herod the Great: The top of the anchor is transformed into a P*, the left arm of the anchor ends in an arrow-head shape as the right arm doesn't, and a dot is depicted at top left of the anchor, like the one at top left of the eagle on coin type GBC 1190. There are probably some symbols here that are not fully understood. Struck by the pair of dies O42-R55 in our book, It is very probable this reverse die, R55, is the single one to have been cut by a master engraver as the 75 other reverse dies are imitations cut by more or less talented apprentices. This coin shows one of the 2 finest known depictions of R55**.

* See also the Fig. 2 in our book (p. 55)

** Of the 256 specimens listed for the type, only 9 are struck by R55. The other finest coin struck by R55 was sold by Amphora on May 2009.

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2. Herod the Great, half prutah struck ca. 13 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1191) 0.62 g.

 Start: $425  Est.: $600-700   Final: $687 (5 bids: 425 - 425 - 600 - 655 - 1,010)

A nice specimen with a beautiful, well detailed galley. Listed as the 2nd finest known specimen on MCP (click here), this coin has been in several private collections since the early 80's and has been restored 2 times.

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3. Herod Archelaus, double prutot struck ca. 1 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1194) 2.82 g.

 Start: $575  Est.: $750-950   Final: $1,255 (6 bids: 585 - 951 - 1,010 - 1,100 - 1,220 - 1,255)

A fantastic specimen, perfectly centered on both sides. The strike is excellent and even the most minute details are visible. It is definitely the finest coin I have seen of Archelaus. The obverse is from the same die as the GBC plate coin 1194a, but this coin is definitely GBC 1194. Also note the interesting retrograde inscription on reverse.

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4. Herod Antipas, quarter denomination struck year 39 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1217) 3.51 g.

 Start: $850  Est.: $1,300-1,500   Final: $2,214 (6 bids: 1,100 - 1,500 - 1,500 - 1,655 - 2,109 - 2,500)

A beautiful example of one of the rarest coin types of Antipas. Only 20 specimens are listed to date (click here, pair of dies O3-R4).

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5. City of Nysa-Scytopolis (Decapolis) struck year 66 C.E. under Nero (GBC 886) with countermark NYSA  (Howgego 555) 10.08 g.

 Start: $225  Est.: $350-400   Final: Unsold

Struck on the first year of the Jewish revolt, this nice coin bears a perfect countermark of Nysa-Scytopolis (Bet Shean), the leading city of the Decapolis and the only one located West to the Jordan river.

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6. First Jewish Revolt against the Romans, eighth shekel struck year 69 C.E. (4th year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1369b) 5.04 g.

 Start: $650  Est.: $800-1,000   Final: $1,267 (4 bids: 810 - 1,006 - 1,207 - 2,200)

An extremely rare and important variety with an entirely retrograde inscription on obverse. Only 10 specimens (struck by 2 different dies) are known for the type, including this one (click here and scroll down to dies O3 & O39). It is one of only 3 specimens offered for sale in the past 10 years*. Unlike the retrograde coins of the procurators (Pilate, Felix), I do not believe this variety has been struck at an illegal workshop. It is most probably the fact of an inexperienced die engraver working at the official mint of the rebels. Interestingly, 3 other retrograde dies from the Jewish war are also known, they are all varieties of the classic prutah of the 2nd year: click here and see the dies O1 to O3 (also 10 known specimens!) Of the 2,500-3,000 dies ever cut by the talented coin makers of the Jewish War, only 5 of them are retrograde. It is a good indication that the rebels wanted to keep a high standard of quality in the fabrication of their coins.

* December 2009 (Fontanille Coins sale 10) and October 2004 (Archaeological Center sale 34)

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7. Judaea Capta, mint of Rome. Aureus struck under Vespasian ca. 21 December 69-early 70 C.E. in Rome (GBC 1464) 7.05 g.

 Start: $14,500  Est.: $20,000-25,000   Final: $21,682 (4 bids: 18,500 - 20,100 - 20,650 - 27,000)

Probably struck some weeks after the eighth shekel above (coin #8), this very rare aureus is one of the most desirable and important Judaea Capta coin types. According to the revised RIC Volume II, this is the first type struck in Rome by Vespasian once his forces took control of Jerusalem in December 69 - January 70 C.E. In other words, this type came into circulation 7 - 8 months before the final victory of the Romans over the rebels and the destruction of Jerusalem*. Also, when the rebels struck the famous year 5 shekel, this coin claiming the victory of the Romans was already circulating!

* Defeating the rebels in Masada, their last fortress, would even take 3 more years to the Romans.

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8. Agrippa II, struck year 74-75 C.E. in Caesarea Paneas (unlisted type or GBC 1284 variety) 10.73 g.

 Start: $625  Est.: $800-1,000   Final: $858 (4 bids: 655 - 754 - 818 - 959)

A superb specimen struck on a large flan (30 mm, 10% larger than usual). A bit similar to GBC 1284-a-b, this piece is an unlisted type or variety: On obverse, the portrait of Titus is not cuirassed and the style of the portrait and letters is different than GBC 1284. On reverse, unlike GBC 1284a & b, there is no star and no crescent, the inscription is abbreviate, Nike-Victory is shown with a single wing instead of a pair, and, interestingly, the letter 'O' of 'ETO' is inside the wing. Struck one year after the fall of Masada.

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9. Bar Kochba Revolt, middle bronze struck year 132-133 C.E. (1st year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1377 - Mild. 23) 10.72 g.

 Start: $1,650  Est.: $2,000-3,000   Final: $2,625 (7 bids: 2,000 - 2,018 - 2,100 - 2,333 - 2,350 - 2,500 - 3,000)

An exceptional coin perfectly centered on both sides with complete, clear inscriptions. Interestingly, it is the single die depicting a 6 strings lyre for the series. Also note the retrograde letter lamed at top right of the lyre (the retrograde letters were very rare on the Bar Kochba dies). Apparently the finest known specimen for the type, better than the plate coins in the 3 reference catalogues (GBC 1377, Mild 23, TJC 223a) and than the 2 specimens offered at the famous Heritage-Shoshana sale in 2012 (#20238 & 20239, both are from the same pair of dies).

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10. Bar Kochba Revolt, zuz struck year 134-135 C.E. (3rd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1418) 2.98 g.

 Start: $675  Est.: $850-1,000   Final: $1,015 (4 bids: 855 - 902 - 967 - 1,036)

A beautiful example with a well centered, strong strike. A few remains of the underneath Roman coin are visible at 7:30 on obverse and at 5:00 on reverse. The jug and willow branch are very clear and well detailed (enlargement)

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11. City of Petra (Decapolis) struck ca. 200 C.E. under Septimius Severus (Spijkerman 28) 6.24 g.

 Start: $250  Est.: $350-400   Final: $609 (5 bids: 375 - 459 - 500 - 580 - 1,200)

A superb specimen on both sides, apparently the finest known for the type. As found with its original encrustations.

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12. City of Bostra, struck ca. 185 C.E. under Commodus (Spijkerman 29) 3.00 g.

 Start: $250  Est.: $350-400   Final: $393 (2 bids: 375 - 480)

A beautiful example for this coin type apparently struck by a single pair of dies. As found with its original encrustations.

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SALE 64 (August 1-7 2014)

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1. Samaria obol, struck year 390-380 B.C.E. (MQ 58) 0.59 g.

 Start: $750  Est. $1,000-1,200   Final: $1,166 (4 bids: 754 - 1,000 - 1,111 - 1,250)

An enigmatic and possibly unique specimen struck by a reverse die of the rare Samarian type MQ 58 with the legend ‘BDL’ (Abdiel). The obverse looks like Edomite with its typical dome shaped relief. Is it an Edomite obverse die paired to a Samarian reverse? It would be the first time a coin is struck by a pair of dies from two different cultures. Or was the obverse die originally a regular MQ 58 prematurely worn and then recut in a style inspired by the coins of the Edomites*? This amazing specimen requires further investigation, but it is definitely an important piece.

* A hoard of dome-shaped Edomite coins has been found in Samaria. Two coins from this hoard are in the Israel Museum collection (IM 14568 & 14569). See also the Gitler, Tal and Van Alfen article in Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 2 (2007)

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2. Yehud, pre-Ptolemaic period, struck year 390-380 B.C.E. (GBC 1052) 0.49 g.

 Start: $750  Est. $1,000-1,200   Final: Unsold

An exceedingly rare Yehud coin type with an inscription in 4 letters instead of 3. Only 5 specimens are listed, this one shows the finest portrait. This type is temporarily listed as the pair of dies O3-R8 in our classification (click here) A close examination of the 5 known specimens explains why this type is so rare: During the striking process, the obverse die has been prematurely ruined by wear and the strike has been aborted after a few specimens struck*. Uncleaned.

* In my opinion, when a die was cut in a too soft alloy, it was subject to premature wear. When it was cut in a too hard alloy, it was subject to premature breaks (see my article in Israel Numismatic Research Vol 3 (2008): Extreme Deterioration and Damage on Yehud Coins.)

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3. Judah Aristobulus, struck year 104 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1142) 1.85 g.

 Start: $650  Est. $800-900   Final: $1,164 (3 bids: 951 - 1,109 - 1,200)

Only two coin types are known from Judah Aristobulus, this is the rarest one. It is also one of the rarest Hasmonaean coin types with inscription and double cornucopia. The condition is superb with a better and more complete inscription than the GBC plate coin (No. 1142). Interestingly, the reverse die (double cornucopia) is the same as the GBC plate*.

* The side with the double cornucopia is probably the obverse on all the Hasmonaean coins.

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4. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. (GBC 1188 var.) 1.60 g.

 Start: $425  Est.: $600-800   Final: $892 (4 bids: 525 - 800 - 850 - 1,000)

This interesting piece bears the most complete inscription ever seen for the type. Unfortunately, this coin has been found too recently to be listed in our book! To see all the other varieties listed for the type, please click here.

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5. Herod Agrippa II, struck year 85 CE in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1325) 5.20 g.

 Start: $450  Est.: $650-750   Final: $1,128 (8 bids: 450 - 465 - 480 - 790 - 803 - 1,000 - 1,075 - 1,200)

One of the finest known specimens for the type. Even the most minute details are well visible on both sides. Nice centering, strong strike.

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6. Bar Kochba Revolt, small bronze struck year one of the revolt (132-133 C.E.) in Jerusalem (GBC 1380c) 5.25 g.

 Start: $775  Est. $950-1,150   Final: $1,267 (5 bids: 825 - 1,000 - 1,000 - 1,207 - 1,500)

A beautiful specimen well struck and well centered on both sides and in a much better condition than the GBC plate coin (No. 1380c). Uncleaned.

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7. Bar Kochba Revolt, zuz struck year 134-135 C.E. (3rd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1422) 3.40 g.

 Start: $675  Est.: $800-950    Final: $945 (4 bids: 801 - 810 - 900 - 960)

A beautiful coin with a quasi complete border of dots on BOTH sides (extremely rare). In a better condition than the GBC (No. 1422) and Mildenberg's (No. 107) plate coins. Much better than the pic.

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8. Bar Kochba Revolt, zuz struck year 134-135 C.E. (3rd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1434) 3.28 g.

 Start: $675  Est.: $800-900   Final: $940 (6 bids: 675 - 700 - 821 - 855 - 910 - 940)

An uncleaned but beautiful specimen with interesting remains of the underneath coin. Like coin #7, it is in a better condition than the GBC (No. 1434, same dies) and Mildenberg's (No. 188) plate coins. Much better than the pic.

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9. Judaea Capta, struck year 79-81 C.E. under Titus in Caesarea Maritima  (GBC 1447) 7.40 g.

 Start: $350  Est.: $500-600   Final: $420 (4 bids: 357 - 400 - 400 - 455)

A very nice specimen far above average on both sides.

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10. City coin of Sepphoris struck year 98-117 C.E. under Trajan  (GBC 909 - Rosenberger 6) 3.16 g.

 Start: $275  Est.: $400-500   Final: $472 (5 bids: 300 - 310 - 406 - 450 - 479)

Apparently the finest known specimen, much better on both sides than the GBC 909 plate coin* and than the Heritage-Shoshana specimen (click here). Interestingly, this coin type has been struck by a single pair of dies.

* GBC 4th Edition (2001)

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11. City coin of Tyre struck year 251-253 C.E. under Volusian   - UNLISTED -  15.20 g.

 Start: $775  Est.: $1,000-1,200   Final: $1,086 (2 bids: 1,035 - 1,500)

An important, unlisted coin type from Tyre. This possibly unique specimen depicts the portrait of Volusian on obverse and Roma seated left holding an eagle supporting 2 figures on reverse (enlargement).

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SALE 63 (July 1-7 2014)

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1. Mattatayah Antigonus, prutah struck year 40-37 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1164) 1.74 g.

 Start: $350  Est.: $550-650   Final: $582 (4 bids: 351 - 400 - 555 - 980)

A superb example for this always partial and poorly struck prutah. The retrograde inscription is complete with very clear, detailed letters (pair of dies O2-R3, click here). Professionally cleaned and restored a few weeks ago in Israel. It is important to note that this coin type has been struck by 20-30% oversized obverse dies, so we will never see a single specimen with a complete border of dots on the obverse. That the inscription 'Mattatayah' is retrograde on all the dies of this coin type is indeed remarkable and the probable reason for this is fascinating: click here and read the two white lines at top of the page.

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2. John Hyrcanus, prutah struck year 135-104 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1132) 1.96 g.

 Start: $225  Est.: $300-400   Final: $315 (3 bids: 300 - 300 - 412)

A fantastic specimen with a perfect inscription framed by a quasi complete wreath. The reverse is indeed a bit of-centered to right, but it remains far above average with a beautiful strike and many details. This coin type is relatively common, but extremely rare in this condition.

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3. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. Large denomination struck year 37 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1169 var.)

 Start: $550  Est.: $700-900   Final: $1,062 (4 bids: 705 - 900 - 1,012 - 1,255)

An extremely rare double struck large denomination of Herod the Great: only 3 specimens are known (out of 772 specimens listed). This important coin is illustrated in our book The Coins of Herod (Fig. 10, page 84).

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4. Herod the Great (40-4 BCE) struck year 37 BCE in Jerusalem (Hendin 1172). 2.42 grams

 Start: $650  Est.: $800-1,000   Final: $687 (2 bids: 655 - 1,000)

A superb example - on both sides - for this coin type usually in poor or very poor condition. Interestingly, the letter 'O' at 10:30 on the die with the aphlaston has been recut and the date, at bottom left of the aphlaston, has been erased*. Pair of dies O1-R1.

* This coin type has been struck by 4 dies only, as the large denomination H1169 (helmet & tripod) has been struck by 153 dies (see our book). It probably explains that, when the dies of H1172 were getting worn, they were recut because there was no fresh dies available to replace them. That the date has been erased probably shows that this coin type has been occasionally restruck after year 37 BCE.

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5. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. (Hendin 1178) Struck around 30 B.C.E in Jerusalem. 3.94 grams

 Start: $450  Est. $600-700   Final: Unsold

Struck by the pair of dies O23-R5 in our book (plate 41), this is one of the finest specimens known for the type. The little, oval flaw under the table is a die break visible on all the coins struck by R5. At 9:00 on obverse, after the letters 'HP', the letter omega seems to be replaced by a 'V'. It is not a mistake. This amazing, simplified form of omega (here upside-down) was used by one of the engravers of Herod on all the dies he cut. The yellow illustration at left shows the progression of the simplified forms of omega to be found on some of the undated coin types of Herod.

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6. Herod Philip, struck year 26/27 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1226) 3.59 grams.

 Start: $1,750  Est. $2,500-3,500   Final: $3,969 (6 bids: 1,750 - 2,000 - 2,125 - 2,850 - 3,780 - 5,000)

This is definitely one of the 3-4 rarest coin types of Herod Philip, in exceptional condition on both sides.

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7. Pontius Pilate, struck year 29/30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1341) 1.97 grams.

 Start: $675  Est. $850-1,000   Final: $866 (3 bids: 750 - 825 - 1,000)

A fantastic coin with a perfect simpulum and a complete inscription framed by a quasi complete border of dots on obverse.

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8. First Jewish Revolt, prutah struck year 67-68 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1360). 2.69 g.

 Start: $275  Est. $400-500   Final: Unsold

A very nice specimen with a well detailed amphora and a perfect inscription on obverse, and a quasi complete inscription on reverse with a well detailled leaf and branch.

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9. Bar Kochba Revolt, small bronze struck year one of the revolt (132-133 C.E.) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1380) 6.29 grams

 Start: $475  Est. $650-750   Final: Unsold

A beautiful specimen well struck and well centered on both sides.

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10. Bar Kochba Revolt, middle bronze struck year two of the revolt (133-134 C.E.) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1408) 9.58 grams

 Start: $550  Est. $700-800   Final: $550 (1 bid: 850)

A very nice example for this coin type usually found in poor condition with partial illustrations. Found in Jordan 5 months ago.

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11. Decapolis, city of Gadara, struck year 179 C.E. under Commodus (Spijkerman 62, Rosenberger 64) 12.76 grams

 Start: $1,250  Est. $1,600-1,800   Final: $2,152 (3 bids: 1,555 - 2,050 - 2,200)

A scarce type in a fantastic condition on both sides, apparently the finest known. The portraits of Commodus (obverse) and Hercules-Melkart (reverse) are superb, the inscriptions are complete, the centering is perfect and the border of dots is complete on the obverse. Struck by a pair of fresh dies and in mint condition.

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SALE 62 (June 1-9 2014)

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1. Classic Athenian tetradrachm (Kroll 8, 17.21 g.) & Philistian imitation from Gaza (Gitler & Tal V.17, 16.21 g.)

 Start: $4,250  Est. $6,000-8,000   Final: $12,836 (7 bids: 7,611 - 9,070 - 10,000 - 10,500 - 12,100 - 12,225 - 14,500)

An interesting lot of two coins with the portrait of Athena: The first one (at left) is a classic Athenian tetradrachm in exceptional condition on both sides. The other one (at right) is a Philistian imitation struck in Gaza. Only 11 Philistian tetradrachms are known to date, two of them have been sold in the recent years: a poor one at Heritage in 2012 (for $17,925.00) and the finest known at Goldberg in 2013 (for $24,150.00). Both are from the same 'Asian eyed' obverse die as the one offered here. This coin is also a pedigreed specimen illustrated 10 years ago in an article published by Peter Van Alfen*. However note that a part of the inscription and the letter marnas, at right of the owl, are off centered.

* American Journal of Numismatics 16-17 (2004-05), pp. 47-61, and plate 6-13.

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2. Yehud, pre-Ptolemaic period, struck year 350-345 B.C.E. (GBC 1061) 0.42 g.

 Start: $6,500  Est. $8,000-10,000   Final: $14,700 (10 bids: 6,500 - 7,200 - 7,225 - 7,965 - 8,350 - 11,111 - 12,000 - 12,600 - 14,000 - 15,000)

This famous coin type depicting the Ear of God listening to prayers is certainly one of the most fascinating type ever struck during the Yehud period. It is also a very rare type: only 19 specimens are listed to date and it is definitely one of the 2-3 finest known (click here). Only the top of the inscription is visible at right of the falcon but the ear is perfect and the falcon is quasi complete. Pair of dies O1-R1. The curved die break visible at top left of the ear probably explains the reason why this type is so rare: The obverse die may have been prematurely ruined during the striking process.

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3. John Hyrcanus I, struck year 135-104 B.C.E. (GBC 1133) 2.47 g.

 Start: $175  Est. $250-300   Final: $446 (6 bids: 205 - 220 - 301.55 - 402 - 425 - 1,500)

A superb example with a perfect inscription surrounded by a quasi complete wreath on obverse and a nice double cornucopia on reverse. Found in a little hoard of 18 coins in 2002, in Samaria.

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4. Herod Archelaus, struck ca. 1 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1196) 1.57 g.

 Start: $225  Est. $300-350   Final: $236 (2 bids: 225 - 310)

A very nice coin of Archelaus, much better than the GBC and TJC plate coins.

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5. Herod Antipas, half denomination struck year 20 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1200) 10.47 g.

 Start: $2,750  Est. $3,500-4,500   Final: $8,400 (6 bids: 5,555 - 6,000 - 6,200 - 7,600 - 8,000 - 10,000)

Three months ago, we were lucky to offer the finest known coin of Mattatayah Antigonus (see at left). We are now offering the finest known coin of Herod Antipas (out of more than 800 specimens listed to date). The weight of this coin (10.47 g) is also exceptional for a half denomination: it is 20-30% above average. Professionally cleaned and restored in Israel 3 years ago. Struck by the pair of dies O2-R4 (click here)

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6. Herod Antipas, half denomination struck year 30 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1208) 7.32 g.

 Start: $725  Est. $1,000-1,250   Final: UNSOLD

A nice specimen on both sides. 25-30% of the inscription is off centered at top, but this coin is still better than average. Dies O1-R1.

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7. Pontius Pilate, struck year 20-31 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342 Var.) 1.37 g.

 Start: $275  Est. $400-500   Final: $275 (1 bid: 677)

An interesting barbarous coin showing an obverse die cut by an inexperienced engraver. The inscription is quasi complete, but only the word 'KAIC(AP)OC', from 11:00 to 5:00, is easy to read.

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8. Valerius Gratus, struck year 15-16 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1334 var.) 1.75 g.

 Start: $275  Est. $350-450   Final: $498 (4 bids: 351 - 400 - 475 - 1,000)

A barbarous issue with a fantastic centering on obverse (the border of dots is quasi complete) and an unlisted variety on reverse: 'ACA' instead of 'KAICAP'.

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9. City of Petra (Decapolis) struck under Hadrian (117-138 C.E.) GBC 950 - SNG 1360 13.49 g.

 Start: $525  Est. $700-800   Final: $630 (3 bids: 600 - 600 - 655)

An extremely rare coin type struck in Petra, apparently the finest known. It is a large coin of 28 mm. The obverse and reverse dies have been cut by two different engravers.

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SALE 61 (May 1-6 2014)

 

1. Yehud with a blank obverse & winged lynx on reverse, Struck year 320-315 B.C.E. (Hendin 1068). 0.18 gram.

 Start: $850  Est. $1,200-1,400   FINAL: 890 (3 bids: 850 - 856 - 1,560)

A very rare and amazing type (only 18 specimens are listed, click here) struck by a blank obverse and an anepigraphic reverse die. This type, as well as the other ones depicting a lynx was struck in 320-315 BCE, date of an important event in the history of Yehud coinage: the Persian weight standard is now replaced by the lighter Attic standard. The lynx is in exceptional condition on this coin and is one of the 3 finest known. Uncleaned.

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2. Samarian obol, 4th Century B.C.E. (MQ -) 0.79 gram.

 Start: $425  Est. $600-700   FINAL: 750 (2 bids: 715 - 1,200)

An unlisted Samarian type with galley, similar to the one sold by CNG three years ago (click here). The other Samarian coin types with galley are also very crude and partial. It is not rare that similar coins are attributed to Samaria by error (example). This piece is much better than the pic.

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3. Nabataea, Aretas IV struck in Petra ca. 2 BCE (Mesh. 68) & unlisted barbarous imitation. 2.01 grams (left) 1.52 grams (right)

 Start: $450  Est. $650-750   FINAL: 746 (4 bids: 509 - 700 - 711 - 875)

An interesting pair of Nabataean coins: The coin #1 (at left) shows an exceptional, well detailed portrait of Aretas 4, perfectly centered. The coin #2 (at right) is the single barbarous Nabataean coin I have ever seen, depicting a crude imitation of the portrait of Aretas IV. The barbarous coins are known in Judaea (10-15% of the coins of Pontius Pilate were struck from barbarous dies) but they were unknown on the Nabataean coins.  Both coins are professionally cleaned with their nice original deep black desert patina. Both are much better than the pics.

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4. Herod Philip, struck year 8/9 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1222 var.) 4.66 grams.

 Start: $1,425  Est. $1,700-2,000   FINAL: 2,913 (5 bids: 1,425 - 2,000 - 2,513 - 2,775 - 4,100)

Struck on the same year as the nice Philip GBC 1221 we offered last month, this one is the rare variety with the portrait of Augustus to left. But even more amazing is the retrograde date on reverse: The coins of Philip with a retrograde date are extremely rare (not more than 2-3 specimens are known to me, see GBC 1221a) but it is the first time I see the retrograde date paired to a portrait to left.

 

5. Herod Antipas, quarter denomination struck year 33 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1213) 2.97 grams.

 Start: $775  Est. $1,500-1,800   FINAL: 1,050 (4 bids: 782 - 925 - 1,000 - 1,250)

An exceedingly rare coin type of Antipas (10 specimens known), in exceptional condition. This is the 2nd finest known, after the one in the famous A. Sofaer collection (click here). The side with 'TIBEPIAC' is always in extremely poor condition due to a fast, premature degradation of this die.

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6. Bar Kochba Revolt, middle bronze struck year 2 of the revolt (133 C.E.) in Jerusalem (GBC 1408 - Mild 70) 9.55 grams.

 Start: $475  Est. $650-750   FINAL: 525 (2 bids: 500 - 755)

A superb middle bronze with nice illustrations and inscriptions on both sides. Much better than the Mildenberg plate coin (Mild. 70)

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7. Judaea Capta, struck in Caesarea Maritima under Domitian in 93 C.E. (GBC 1458) 18.27 grams

 Start: $450  Est: $700-800   FINAL: 525 (3 bids: 487 - 500 - 900)

A beautiful example of one of the ultimate Judaea Capta coin types struck in Judaea. It is fascinating to think that more than 20 years after the fall of Jerusalem, the Roman authorities in Judaea were still commemorating their victory of 70 CE. Uncleaned.

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8. City of Sepphoris, struck under Trajan, 98-117 C.E. (GBC 907 - BMC 1.3 - Ros. 4 - SNG 1088) 9.42 grams

 Start: $625  Est: $800-1,000   FINAL: Unsold

A fantastic specimen with complete inscriptions and beautiful illustrations on both sides. Much better than the four plate coins listed above..

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9. City of Gaba, struck year 117 C.E. under Hadrian (Rosenberger 9). 8.86 grams.

 Start: $450  Est: $600-700   FINAL: 656 (3 bids: 505 - 625 - 825)

A superb specimen struck by a pair of fresh dies in the city of Gaba, founded by Herod the Great. The portrait is of exceptional quality.

 

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SALE 60 (April 1-7 2014)

 

1. Philistian obol, struck circa 370 B.C.E. in Gaza (GBC 1014) 0.68 g.

 Start: $375  Est. $550-700   FINAL: $375 (1 bid: 505)

A beautiful example for this coin type imitating the classic Greek coin of Athens. The chin of Athena is of-centered, but it is the first time I see this coin type with a helmet with its full crest. The reverse is also much better than usual with a very clear letter marnas (symbol of Gaza).

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2. Samarian obol, 4th Century B.C.E. (GBC 1043) 0.62 g.

 Start: $425  Est. $650-800   FINAL: 702 (2 bids: 700 - 702)

A rare Samarian obol in a better condition than usual. Apparently, this coin type has been struck by a single pair of dies prematurely worn: the reverse is crossed by a network of breaks as the inscription on obverse remains enigmatic (GBC and Samarian Coinage both talk about 'traces of inscription' in front of the bull). The head of a 'mythological animal' on reverse is most likely a lynx, like on the Yehud GBC 1065. Uncleaned with some thick encrustations.

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3. Herod Philip, struck year 8/9 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1221) 7.81 g.

 Start: $1,250  Est. $1,700-2,200   FINAL: 2,111 (4 bids: 1,400 - 1,700 - 2,011 - 2,275)

Since 5-6 years, for some reason I don't really understand, the coins of Herod Philip are very hard to find and they are quasi unobtainable in an exceptional condition like this one. The pair of dies is O1-R5 (click here). The countermarks are frequent on this coin type (30%) and interestingly, they are never struck on the side with the temple. Most of these countermarks (60%) are depicting the Greek letter Phi (F), like this one.

The reverse dies of the types depicting the temple, with its simple, geometric shapes were probably cut by a local engraver. But in the small tetrarchy of Philip, there was probably no engravers skilled enough to cut a realistic portrait with its delicate, sophisticated shapes. I believe the obverse dies of Philip were cut in Jerusalem or in Rome. It would explain the reason why, of all the types with portrait & temple, we only have 4 or 5 obverse dies with portrait and 10-15 times more reverse dies with the temple: The coins GBC #1223, 1224 & 1225 (years 12, 15 & 26 CE) are all struck by the same obverse die!

It is always interesting to note that, of the 3 sons of Herod, Philip is the only one who uses his own name 'Philip'' on coins (FILIPPOU, at left and bottom of the temple) as his brothers Antipas and Archelaus use their dynastic name 'Herod' (HRWDOU). Was Philip the most narcissist of them, or was he proud of his prosperous kingdom, as attested by the illustration and legend on the reverse of GBC 1231?!

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4. Herod Antipas, struck year 30 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1209) 3.71 g.

 Start: $875  Est. $1,500-2,000   FINAL: 3,153 (5 bids: 925 - 1,100 - 2,100 - 3,003 - 3,600)

Struck on the same year as the famous coin of Pontius Pilate dated LIZ (year of the crucifixion of Jesus), here is an exceedingly rare coin type: Only 9 specimens are known to date (click here) and this is one of the two finest, as beautiful as the one at the Israel Museum.

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5. Pontius Pilate, struck year 30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342 var.) 2.26 g.

 Start: $275  Est. $400-500   FINAL: 294 (3 bids: 277 - 280 - 510)

A nice barbarous coin of Pontius Pilate written 'EPIOY KAICAPC' in crude letters instead of 'TIBEPIOY KAICAPOC'. It is extremely rare to find a barbarous coin with a complete inscription like this one: The dies were not only poorly cut by inexperienced engravers, the coins were also more poorly struck than the regular coins.

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6. Antonius Felix, struck year 54 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1347 var.) 2.08 g.

 Start: $225  Est. $300-350   FINAL: 327 (3 bids: 280 - 312 - 330)

Another great barbarous issue in very nice condition on both sides. The engraver was more experienced than the one who cut the dies of the coin of Pilate offered above, but he was probably an apprentice: The inscription is relatively well balanced and not truncated on both sides, but the letters are cruder than on the regular issues.

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7. Agrippa I prutah struck year 41-42 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1244). 2.65 grams

 Start: $425  Est. $550-650   FINAL: 538 (5 bids: 477 - 500 - 511 - 513 - 550)

It is the first time I see such a beautiful obverse on this coin type, perfectly centered with a complete border of dots and large margin. Some double strike traces are visible on the reverse at right.

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8. First Jewish Revolt eighth shekel in bronze. Struck year 69-70 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1369). 6.55 g.

 Start: $575  Est. $700-900   FINAL: Unsold

A beautiful specimen slightly off-centered on obverse but with a nice strong strike on both sides. Struck by a pair of dies cut by the engraver B*. Original green patina.

* A huge quantity of dies have been cut for striking this important coin type. From 2002 to 2006, I have listed a bit more than 150 dies with the cup (click here) and this classification is still to be completed. However, all these dies have been cut by 2 engravers only. There is a simple way to identify each engraver: The engraver A always cut a rounded letter shin (see pictures at left), as the engraver B cut a squared shin. The engraver A was a bit more delicate and 'artsy' than the engraver B, but both engravers were talented and experienced. Interestingly, the engraver A did not need the assistance of the engraver B for cutting the much less numerous dies of the half and quarter shekels in the same series (GBC 1367 &1368): The letter shin (located between 12:00-1:00 on both types) is never squared on them!

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9. Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem), struck around 220 C.E. under Elagabalus (Meshorer 126 var.) 9.79 g.

 Start: $550  Est. $700-850   FINAL: 1,054 (6 bids: 555 - 625 - 650 - 790 - 1,004 - 1,155)

A superb example - possibly the finest known - with great illustrations on both sides. The small figures inside the columns of the temple are very clear and much better than usual.

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10. Gadara (Decapolis) under Gordian III (238-244 C.E.),  Spij. 93 - Ros. 90. 14.84 g.

 Start: $550  Est. $700-850   FINAL: 787 (3 bids: 580 - 750 - 875)

Another superb city coin struck in Gadara with a beautiful bust on obverse and an impressive galley with high relief on reverse. It is a large coin of 28 mm.

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SALE 59 (March 1-6 2014)

 

1. Samarian obol, 4th Century B.C.E. (Meshorer & Qedar #1) 0.56 g.

 Start: $750  Est. $1,000-1.300  FINAL: 1,737 (5 bids: 750 - 1,002 - 1,050 - 1,655 - 2,300)

A rare Samarian type (Meshorer & Qedar #1!) in a superb condition. Both inscriptions (in Greek on obverse, in Aramaic on reverse) are retrograde*. Uncleaned.

* The retrograde inscriptions were also relatively common on the very first Yehud coin types (Athena-owl), of all denominations.

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2. Yehud hemiobol struck year 350-345 BCE. (GBC 1060) 0.36 g.

 Start: $1,750  Est. $2,000-2,500  FINAL: 3,370 (7 bids: 2,106 - 2,150 - 2,350 - 2,803 - 3,000 - 3,210 - 3,890)

A superb specimen struck by the die pair O1-R2 (click here). This sought-after coin type is of special importance among the coinage of the Yehud period. Its remarkable artistic and aesthetical qualities are a result of two main factors: The shape similarity of the obverse and reverse images (Fig. 1) and the fact that the three dies used for striking this type were all cut by a master engraver (see detail on Fig. 2). The dies R1 and R2 of this coin type are among the most beautiful Yehud reverse dies in existence.

This coin is offered in partnership with Mr. M. Shick.

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3. Mattatiyah Antigonus 40-37 B.C.E. half denomination (Hendin 1163) 7.15 g.

 Start: $1,500  Est. $2,000-2,500  FINAL: 3,150 (10 bids: 1,675 - 2,016 - 2,029 - 2,175 - 2,375 - 2,501 - 2,800 - 2,990 - 3,000 - 3,337)

This gem is not only the finest known for the type, it is the finest coin ever seen of Antigonus. The pair of dies is O4-R8 (click here). This coin has been professionally cleaned and restored and its original patina is 100% preserved. About 1 year ago, I have completed the die classification of the coins of Antigonus*. The 2 largest denominations (like the one offered here) revealed something I have never seen before: All the dies have been cut by two different engravers, apparently in two different workshops. On the coins struck by the dies of the engraver A, the obverse is the side written in Paleo-Hebrew. But on the coins struck by the dies of the engraver B, the obverse is the side in Greek.

* Read our article in the present issue of Israel Numismatic Research: The Small Denominations of Mattathias Antigonus: Die Classification and Interpretations (pp. 55-72).

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4. Herod the Great 40-4 B.C.E. Large denomination (Hendin 1169) struck year 37 B.C.E. 6.07 g.

 Start: $575  Est. $800-1.000  FINAL: 618 (3 bids: 577 - 606 - 618)

This beautiful specimen on both sides bears the most amazing variety on the side with the helmet: The cheek pieces are connected together (instead of being completely separated). This variety is exceedingly rare and is even unlisted in our book!

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5. Herod Antipas 4 B.C.E - 40 C.E. (Hendin 1201) Quarter denomination struck year 20 C.E. in Tiberias. 3.47 grams

 Est.:  Start: $1,300  Est. $1,700-2,000  FINAL: 1,300 (After sale)

A superb specimen, one of the 3-4 finest known for the type (out of 79 specimens listed to date, click here). Struck by the pair of dies O2-R11. Interestingly, O2 (shown here at right) is extremely rare because it has been prematurely ruined by a break running from 9:00 to 2:00. A few weeks ago, for a book project, we calculated an interesting ratio: The total number of coins ever struck by Antipas (21 types) is about the same as the total number of the 8 prutot type struck under his father Herod the Great.

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6. Pontius Pilate, struck year 30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342) 2.42 g.

 Start: $725  Est. $1,000-1.200  FINAL: 1,166 (4 bids: 788 - 1,000 - 1,111 - 1,301)

A fantastic example on both sides for this classic, regular type of Pilate of year 30 CE. The finest we have offered since our sales began in 2009.

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7. First Jewish Revolt, 2 barbarous prutot struck year 67-68 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1360 b)

 Start: $525  Est. $700-900  FINAL: 615 (3 bids: 555 - 586 - 675)

An interesting group of barbarous prutot struck by the same pair of rare dies. Interestingly, the Hendin plate coin #1360b is also from the same pair. The reverse dies are not classified yet, but the obverse is O4 (click here). In 67-68 CE, both coins were struck in the same workshop by the same hands, from the same dies. 1947 years later, they are grouped together again. The specimen at top is cleaned but the one at bottom is as found. Weights: At top: 2.22 g. at bottom: 3.20 g (a large variation of weight is common on barbarous coins)

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8. Agrippa II (49-94 CE), struck year 74 CE in Caesarea Paneas, under Domitian (Hendin 1285 - TJC 165a). 6.18 g.

 Start: $425  Est. $600-700  FINAL: 752 (3 bids: 600 - 717 - 855)

A specimen of exceptional quality on both sides. The strike is strong and the most minute details are visible (see enlargement at right). Better than the TJC plate coin.

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9. City of Petra (Decapolis), struck year 218-222 CE under Elagabalus (Spijkerman 56) 6.89 g.

 Start: $325  Est. $400-500   FINAL: 527 (4 bids: 399 - 418 - 502 - 675)

A beautiful example, far above average, for this important coin type recording the city's status as a colonia. To see a more complete description, please click here.

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SALE 58 (February 1-6 2014)

 

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1. Alexander the Great , tetradrachm struck in Byblos, 330-320 B.C.E. (Price 3426 - Muller 1375). 17.02 g.

 Start: $750  Est. $1,000-1.200  FINAL: UNSOLD

An UNIQUE tetradrachm of Alexander the Great overstruck by a countermark with the Aramaic letter Vav. Found last year in Israel.

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2. Yehud, Persian rule, struck year 320-310 B.C.E. (Hendin 1069). 0.24 g.

 Start: $1,750  Est. $2,000-3.000  FINAL: $2,880 (6 bids: 1,750 - 1,750 - 2,010 - 2,502 - 2,855 - 2,880)

An exceptional specimen on both sides, struck by the pair of dies O10-R10 (click here). Less than 10% of the H-1069 coins show the portrait in a perfect state like this one. All the obverse dies of this type were prematurely ruined by wear, and on most of the coins struck, the portrait is in a poor or extremely poor condition. The reason for this phenomenon is enigmatic, but it is probable that the dies were cut in too soft an alloy.

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3. John Hyrcanus I, prutah, 135-104 B.C.E. (Hendin 1141). 1.51 g.

 Start: $150  Est. $200-300   FINAL: $278 (4 bids: 175 - 185 - 265 - 660)

A beautiful example for this common prutah of Hyrcanus I*. The inscription is clear and complete, and the double cornucopia on reverse is gorgeous.

* In 2007, we wrote an article dedicated to an unique coin of Hyrcanus depicting a star in an Astrophysical journal. Click here to read it (the last page is missing, just contact us for the complete PDF version)

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4. Herod the Great, half-prutah struck year 25-22 B.C.E. (Hendin 1186). 0.61 g.

 Start: $450  Est. $600-700   FINAL: $603 (3 bids: 503 - 575 - 655)

This is the second rarest coin type ever struck under Herod the Great. Pair of dies O4-R2 (plate 73 in our book, or click here). This type is always extremely poor, but the palm branch on this coin is one of the finest known.

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5. Obodas III (30-9 BCE) silver drachm struck year 14-13 B.C.E. in Petra (Meshorer 32). 4.01 g.

 Start: $2,250  Est. $3,000-3,500  FINAL: $3,412 (5 bids: 2,251 - 2,800 - 3,100 - 3,250 - 3,650)

This is THE finest Nabataean drachm I have ever seen. Superb stylized portraits of Obodas III and his queen, complete inscriptions and date, nice centering. Even better than the exceptional one sold by Gemini, 4 years ago (here). Like his neighbour and contemporary Herod the Great, Obodas III was a famous builder. He dined at the Herod's table during a business visit (Josephus Ant. xvi.220).

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6. First Jewish Revolt, prutah struck year 67-68 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1360). 2.13 g.

 Start: $650  Est. $800-900   FINAL: $1,207 (5 bids: 850 - 1,010 - 1,111 - 1,150 - 1,300)

A superb specimen with complete inscriptions and almost complete border of dots on BOTH sides. This is the finest we have offered since we started to sale coins in 2009.

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7. Bar Kochba Revolt (Hendin 1386) Struck year 133-134 C.E. (2nd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem. 11.51 g.

 Start: $18,500  Est. $22,000-25,000   FINAL: UNSOLD

A superb example, better than the GBC plate coin, for this type which is the 2nd rarest sela after the one struck on the 1st year of the revolt.

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8. Probable Agrippa II under Claudius (41-54 CE) with countermark of the 5th Roman legion (Hendin 1607). 10.01 g.

 Start: $375  Est. $500-700   FINAL: $656 (4 bids: 551 - 600 - 625 - 925)

Coin overstruck by a countermark of the 5th Roman legion. The countermarks of the 10th legion ('LXF' for Legio 10 Fretensis) are relatively common, but the ones of the 5th legion ('LVS' for Legio 5 Scythica) are much rarer. The 5th legion was strongly involved in fighting the rebels of the First Revolt (especially at Mt Gerizim, Jotapata, Gamla and Jerusalem). According to Barag & Qedar, the countermark LVS was struck in Caesarea about one year before the end of the war.

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9. City of Sepphoris under Trajan (98-117 CE) Struck in Sepphoris (Hendin 906, Ros. 3). 15.69 g.

 Start: $175  Est. $300-400   FINAL: $317 (4 bids: 205 - 260 - 302 - 400)

Nice specimen, better and heavier than usual.

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SALE 57 (January 1-13 2014)

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1. Yehud with blank obverse & winged bull on reverse, Struck year 320-315 B.C.E. (Hendin 1067). 0.18 g.

- - - COIN WITHDRAWN - - -

I am sorry, but it is possible my description below was wrong: This coin could depict a variant of a winged lynx instead of a winged bull (in that case, the estimate would be too high). It will be listed again in a future sale, later this year, with a possibly revised identification and description.

Listed as 'RRR' in GBC, this exceedingly rare type depicts a winged bull on the reverse and has a blank obverse. Only 7 specimens of this type are known to exist (click here, the reverse die is R1), and this piece is one of the two finest known. This type (as well as the double denomination with the lynx) was struck in 320-315 BCE and marked an important point in the history of Yehud coinage: the Persian weight standard was replaced by the lighter Attic standard. Partially cleaned.

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2. Alexander Jannaeus (Hendin 1148 var.) prutah struck year 41-42 C.E. in Jerusalem. 3.03 grams

 Est.: $650 - 850 Start: $425   Final: $525 (3 bids: 425 - 500 - 602)

A fantastic obverse for this coin type. Although this type is not particularly rare, it is seldom seen in this good a condition. This example is an interesting variant of the regular type, an irregular lily and inscription, along with a square (diadem?) at the top of the border of dots on the obverse (like on the extremely rare H-1147).

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3. Agrippa I (Hendin 1244 var.) prutah struck year 41-42 C.E. in Jerusalem. 2.62 grams

 Est.: $450 - 550 Start: $325   Final: UNSOLD

An extremely rare variety with a retrograde date on reverse (this is the 3rd example of this variety that I know of). About 30% of the obverse is missing due to the off-centered strike, but the reverse is perfectly placed. In most cases, dies with retrograde elements are very crude (e.g. retrograde coins of Archelaus, Pilate or Felix) but this is not the case here; the reverse nicely cut and well detailed. The obverse die also has an interesting feature: instead of the usual 8 fringes under the canopy (4 on each side), this coin has 8 pairs of fringes.

* Read our article: The Barbarous Coins of Judaea published in Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 5 (2010) pp. 109-123.

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4. First Jewish Revolt (May 66- September 70 C.E.), prutah truck year 67 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1360). 2.51 g.

 Est.: $600 - 700 Start: $425   Final: $551 (4 bids: 425 - 433 - 525 - 617)

A beautiful and interesting barbarous coin struck by the rare obverse die O8 (click here). Sometimes, barbarous dies were cut in official workshops by apprentices, possibly to replace older, damaged dies cut by master engravers. Other times, these dies were cut in illegal workshops by forgers. Although cruder than a regular prutah of the second year, this specimen is aesthetically pleasing and has a great eye appeal.

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5. First Jewish Revolt (May 66- September 70 C.E.), prutah struck year 68 C.E. (year 3 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (Hendin 1363). 3.34 g.

 Est.: $550 - 650 Start: $425   Final: $633 (5 bids: 475 - 500 - 500 - 603 - 800)

A nice example of the regular issue of the 3rd year of the First Revolt with unusually complete inscriptions.

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6. Bar Kochba middle bronze (Hendin 1437, yr 134 CE) overstruck on a coin of Ptolemy II (Svoronos 440, ca. 260 BCE). 7.29 g.

 Est.: $3,500 - 5,000 Start: $2,750   Final: $4,463 (7 bids: 2,750 - 2,750 - 3,500 - 4,000 - 4,000 - 4,251 - 5,200)

In our sale no. 46, we were lucky enough to offer a Bar Kochba bronze overstruck on a coin of Ashkelon under Domitian of remarkable aesthetic quality (see picture at left or our archives 2013). Today, we are proud to offer this UNIQUE and fascinating piece of history: a middle bronze of Bar Kochba overstruck on an Alexandrian coin of Ptolemy II, issued 400 years before the revolt. To date, this coin has the oldest known undertype of any Bar Kochba coin. On the reverse, the standing eagle of Ptolemy can be seen, as well as the leaf from the Bar Kochba overstrike (shown here as upside-down).

The cracks on the flan were most likely caused by the overstrike. When the original coin of Ptolemy was struck, the flan was brand new. When it was overstruck some 400 years later, it was an old coin already and the metal was less malleable than when the flan was fresh. This coin will be published soon.

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7. City of Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) Hadrian & Antonius Pius. Struck 138 C.E. Meshorer 9, Rosenberger 9

 Est.: $650 - 850 Start: $475   Final: $498 (2 bids: 475 - 750)

Struck in Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) only 3 years after the revolt of Bar Kochba, this coin is in superb condition on both sides.

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8. City of Petra (Decapolis), under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Struck 161-169 C.E. Spijkerman 21, Ros. 15

 Est.: $750 - 900 Start: $575   Final: $787 (4 bids: 657 - 701 - 750 - 825)

An exceptional specimen. The dies used to strike this coin are among the finest known for this scarce coin type. Superb stylized portraits of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus on the obverse and of Tyche on reverse. This coin is as found, with original yellow-green desert patina.