Judean coins biblical coins for sale
Auction 80 (December 1-7 2015)
- 17 bidders in this auction -
1. Yehud obol struck ca. 370 B.C.E. (GBC 1051) 0.37 g.
Start: $725 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $2,555 (7 bids: 850 - 1,365 - 2,000 - 2,010 - 2,500 - 2,555 - 2,555)
An exceptional example for this rare Yehud coin type struck with a single pair of dies. The head of Athena is excellent on the obverse, and on the reverse - entirely retrograde - the owl is well detailed. The inscription is also well visible even if the very bottom of each letter is missing. This coin is definitely one of the 5-6 finest known for the type (to compare to the 36 examples listed to date, click here). Note the interesting die break on reverse above the letter Dalet (at 7:30): it will constantly grow during the strike and will cause its premature abortion (there was no other reverse die to replace it). In other words, if this reverse die did not break, it is probable this coin type would have been as common as GBC 1050.
2. Yehud hemiobol struck 350-345 B.C.E. (GBC 1061) 0.26 g.
Start: $4,250 Est. $7,000-8,000 Final: $8,512 (5 bids: 6,755 - 7,350 - 8,000 - 8,107 - 9,000)
With its depiction of the Ear of God, it is one of the most fascinating coin types ever struck in Judaea. Like the Samarian and early Philistian coins, most of the 42 Yehud types (click here) are imitations of coins of the Greek and Persian civilizations, sometimes more or less 'personalised'. However, 4 of them are radically different, with no parallel in their illustrations: GBC 1060 (lily), GBC 1061 (Ear), GBC 1062 (shofar) & GBC 1063 (incense burner). We call these 4 types the 'Patriotic Series' because their illustrations on obverse are specifically Jewish: 3 are showing religious symbols (Ear, incense burner, shofar) as the lily is a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, with a total of 120 specimens, the 4 Patriotic Series only represent 8% of all the Yehud coins listed to date. The most 'common' is the one with the lily (78 specimens known) as the one with the shofar is the rarest (4 specimens). About 20 specimens are known for the types with the Ear and the incense burner. Uncleaned. This coin comes with a fascinating story and illustration to be shared with the winner only.
3. Herod the Great (40-4 B.C.E.) prutah struck in Jerusalem (GBC 1188) 1.34 g.
Start: $225 Est. $350-400 Final: $315 (2 bids: 300 - 315)
This is the common, classic prutah of Herod, exceedingly rare in this condition with a complete border of dots on both sides. A die flaw crosses the left cornucopia on reverse.
4. Herod the Great (40-4 B.C.E.) prutah struck in Jerusalem (GBC 1188 - Unlisted variety) 1.38 g.
Start: $275 Est. $400-500 Final: $630 (4 bids: 505 - 550 - 600 - 805)
A fascinating variety of the common prutah of Herod, struck by 2 reverse dies*. It is the 2nd example I have seen for Herod the Great. The other one, very spectacular, is shown at left**. Striking a coin with 2 reverse dies was probably very uneasy, so these coins were not struck by error, like the double strike or brockage are. I believe such coins are the result of a game, a kind of gamble or a challenge by the coin makers.
* This coin type is improperly illustrated in the publications. The actual obverse is the side with the double cornucopia, as the reverse is the one with the anchor.
** Another example struck by 2 reverse dies is known to me. It is a coin of Pontius Pilate offered in 2005 by Amphora (#497), with a simpulum on each side. The picture is not illustrated here but it is available upon request. No coins are known to me by 2 obverse dies.
5. Pontius Pilate, prutah struck year 30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342, barbarous) 1.26 g.
Start: $375 Est. $500-600 Final: $840 (3 bids: 610 - 800 - 1,150)
Unlike the coin of Pilate dated LIH offered below, this coin is more than irregular. It is a true barbarous specimen cut by an unskilled engraver. Even the border of dots is crude! (see on obverse from 11:00 to 12:00). I read the legend on the obverse as 'TIABOC KAIPOC' instead of 'TIBEPIOY KAICAPOC'. On the reverse, the wreath is much more simple than on the regular coins and date reads 'LO' instead of 'LIZ'. It is extremely rare to see a barbarous coin in such a nice condition and centering on both sides.
6. Pontius Pilate, prutah struck year 31 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1343, irregular) 1.74 g.
Start: $625 Est. $800-1,000 Final: $1,200 (5 bids: 808 - 950 - 1,016 - 1,150 - 1,200)
A superb and extremely rare irregular coin in exceptional condition on both sides. This is the 5th example I have listed and, by far, the finest (click here and scroll down to 'O1'). On obverse, the legend reads 'TIBEPIOY KA' instead of "TIBEPIOY KAICAPOC'. On the reverse, the date is indeed entirely retrograde and the wreath is to left. The irregular coins of Pilate dated LIH are much, much rarer than the ones dated LIZ or LIS.
7. Bar Kochba Revolt (132-134 C.E,), small bronze struck year 133 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1380) 5.95 g.
Start: $1,250 Est. $1,500-2,000 Final: $1,865 (5 bids: 1,350 - 1,355 - 1,600 - 1,777 - 1,875)
An exceptional example for this bronze struck on large flan, much better than the GBC (1380) and TJC (224) plate coins.
8. Bar Kochba Revolt (132-134 C.E,) AE 21 mm struck year 134 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1440) 6.08 g.
Start: $775 Est. $1,000-1,500 Final: $2,310 (12 bids: 850 - 875 - 1,282 - 1,300 - 1,350 - 1,400 - 1,700 - 1,855 - 2,000 - 2,111 - 2,200 - 3,500)
Another relatively common bronze, but quasi-impossible to find in such a perfect condition on both sides. This is the finest specimen I have seen for the type, much better than the GBC (#1440) and TJC (#302) plate coins, with each leaf well visible on the palm tree as well as each raisin on the grape. Interestingly, the beautiful condition of the reverse die visible on this coin won't last: After a few coins struck, a relatively severe flaw will appear at 4:30, then another one, less severe, at 10:00.
9. Judaea Capta, AE 24 mm struck year 83 C.E., under Domitian, in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1455) 10.91 g.
Start: $425 Est. $550-650 Final: $579 (3 bids: 426 - 552 - 675)
A superb example for this Judaea Capta local issue, in better condition than the GBC (#1455) and TJC (#392) plate coins.
10. Judaea Capta, AE 20 mm struck year 92 C.E., under Domitian, in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1460) 6.02 g.
Start: $250 Est. $400-500 Final: $432 (3 bids: 355 - 412 - 475)
Another local issue of Judaea Capta, also in exceptional condition on both sides. It is fascinating to see that, more than 20 years after the end of the Jewish War, the victory of the Romans was still celebrated on coins.
11. City of Tyre, AE 25 mm struck year 251-253 C.E., under Volusian (UNLISTED) 15.20 g.
Start: $250 Est. $400-500 Final: $330 (2 bids: 315 - 502)
A large, unlisted coin from Tyre. The obverse die is known to me on a rare coin type with a different reverse (click here). This reverse shows Roma seated left holding an eagle supporting 2 figures (enlargement).
Auction 79 (November 1-9 2015)
- 13 bidders in this auction -
1. Stamped hacksilber ingot of an eighth shekel - First Temple period - (GBC p. 66) 1.89 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,200-1,500 Final: $2,105 (5 bids: 1,300 - 1,618 - 2,000 - 2,005 - 2,500)
In our auction 76 (see archives), we were lucky to offer one of the 2 known stamped hacksilber pieces (1 shekel each). The one we offer today is also a hacksilber piece stamped with a circular mark, the 3rd ever recorded to date, but it is a smaller denomination, with a weight of a 8th shekel.
With its rounded border, with its original disc weighing a half shekel, with the circular mark stamped on it with a die, this sophisticated hacksilber piece is probably the closest thing we have to a coin of the First Temple period (10th-6th Centuries BCE)
The reconstruction below shows the possible sequence from the original disc to the separation of each piece for the 2 hacksilber pieces we have offered:
2. Samaria, obol struck 3rd Cerntury B.C.E. (MQ 134) 0.48 g.
Start: $700 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,399 (3 bids: 1,100 - 1,333 - 2,000)
This rare coin type shows the Samarian version of a classic scene depicted on some coin types of the 3rd Century B.C.E.: a griffin attacking a stag. The reverse shows a ritual scene, possibly from inside the Samarian temple. Uncleaned.
3. Yehud hemiobol struck ca. 340 B.C.E. (GBC 1059) 0.24 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,000-1,300 Final: $1,502 (5 bids: 1,000 - 1,250 - 1,450 - 1,500 - 1,502)
Struck by a pair of fresh dies and perfectly preserved, this superb specimen shows minute details that are missing on the other examples (beard on the head of the Persian king on obverse*, each feather well visible on the neck of the falcon on reverse). Also note the perfect background with no flaws on both sides and the reverse die not (yet) affected by breaks**. The inscription is quasi complete but the half bottom of the letter yod is missing.
* I have listed 37 coins struck by this obverse die, and for the first time, I understand this head has a beard! (see by yourself by clicking here - and scroll down to O3)
** 80-90% of all the Yehud reverse dies are affected by breaks. This ratio remains the same on the Ptolemaic and pre-Ptolemaic periods.
4. Yehud hemiobol struck year 320-310 B.C.E. (GBC 1069) 0.24 g.
Start: $850 Est. $1,100-1,300 Final: Unsold
Struck by the pair of dies O2-R2 (click here), this is one of the 8-10% finest known examples for the type. The reverse is affected by a break running from the edge at 10:00 to the top of the wing. 80-90% of the Yehud reverse dies were affected by breaks.
5. Yehud hemiobol struck year 320-315 B.C.E. (GBC 1065) 0.21 g.
Start: $950 Est. $1,300-1,500 Final: $1,628 (4 bids: 1,275 - 1,425 - 1,551 - 1,860)
A superb example struck by the pair of dies O1-R1, before O1 was affected by a severe clash with R1 (click here). The area of the paws of the lynx is affected by several die breaks.
6. First Jewish Revolt against the Romans, prutah struck year 67 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1360) 3.12 g.
Start: $475 Est. $750-850 Final: $1,339 (6 bids: 500 - 1,000 - 1,064 - 1,222.10 - 1,276 - 1,451)
It is the first time I see a brockage for this coin type and it might well be the only brockage known to date for a coin of the First Revolt. It is a nice specimen that shows what looked like a die of the First Revolt. I have cleaned and restored this coin, but the final result shows that it was not really necessary as this piece was already in excellent condition as found. However, the restoration improved the contrast a little and some minute details are easier to see on the leaf.
7. Agrippa II AE 31 mm struck year 74 C.E. in Caeasarea Paneas (GBC 1282) 11.42 g.
Start: $725 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,443 (3 bids: 1,111 - 1,375 - 1,525)
An impressive coin, perfectly centered on both sides. Better than the GBC and TJC plate coins (GBC 1282, TJC 158), it is one of the finest examples known for the type. Some traces of double strike are visible on the reverse.
8. Bar Kokhba Revolt, large bronze struck year 1 of the revolt - 132 C.E. - in Jerusalem (GBC 1375) 15.72 g.
Start: $12,500 Est. $20,000-25,000 Final: $21,212 (5 bids: 15,000 - 17,500 - 18,260 - 20,202 - 22,000)
An impressive example for this exceedingly rare large bronze of the 1st year of the Bar Kochba revolt. This is the finest known example for the type, much better than the GBC and TJC plate coins (GBC 1375, TJC 221). With only 20 specimens listed (click here), it is the 2nd rarest type of the 4 large bronzes issued under Bar Kochba. The 3 other types are GBC 1376 (95 specimens listed), GBC 1404 (24 specimens) and GBC 1405 (12 specimens)*. To my knowledge, it is the first time a large bronze of Bar Kochba is offered on the market since 2012. This piece is in pristine condition, with its original green-black patina**.
* Interestingly, with a total of 149 specimens recorded for the 4 types (65% are GBC 1376), the number of large bronzes I have listed is very similar to the sample established by Leo Mildenberg 30 years ago. It tends to indicate that a very few new specimens are unearthed in Israel (including the West Bank) and that most specimens offered in auctions are already on the market since decades. I would say that, on average, not more than a single large bronze of Bar Kochba is unearthed every 1-2 years.
** Unfortunately, like the coins of Herod Philip, Antipas and Agrippa I, the large bronzes of Bar Kochba are on the (relatively) short list of frequently tooled coins. 15-20% of them are 'improved' by tooling or painting. A saddening example sold in 2012 is shown here.
9. City of Petra (Decapolis) AE 21 mm struck 117-138 C.E. under Hadrian (Spijkerman 8, Rosenberger 8) 7.96 g.
Start: $275 Est. $350-400 Final: $368 (2 bids: 351 - 376)
A nice example for this coin type which is usually in a much poorer condition. Both heads are in exceptional condition with the most minute details well visible.
10. City of Dora, AE 25 mm struck year 68 C.E. under Nero (Rosenberger 20) 13.41 g.
Start: $275 Est. $350-400 Final: $675 (4 bids: 356 - 505 - 660 - 675)
A nice example for this coin type struck in Dora during the First Revolt.
11. City of Ashkelon (Ascalon), AE 24mm struck year 156-157 C.E. under Antonius Pius - - - UNLISTED - - - 15.50 g.
Start: $1,750 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: $4,830 (6 bids: 2,250 - 3,000 - 3,175 - 3,550 - 4,600 - 5,300)
An exceedingly rare, unlisted coin type of Ashkelon in excellent condition. The only other known example, struck by the same pair of dies, is in the collection of the British Museum (see it here)*. The enigmatic figure with the 3 lions on the reverse is also known on 2 other extremely rare coin types of Ashkelon, but struck under Marcus Aurelius and under Geta. A great article has been dedicated to this figure in Israel Numismatic Research Vol 7 (2012) by Prof. R. Palistrant Shaick. For the complete version of this article under PDF, click here.
I should have more infos about this important coin before the end of this auction.
* We were lucky to offer another one in our auction 77 (see at left), but the date is different.
Auction 78 (October 1-7 2015)
Auction 77 (September 1-7 2015)
1. Philistian obol struck ca. 380-370 B.C.E. (Gitler & Tal XIV.3O) 0.56 g.
Start: $625 Est. $800-1,000 Final: $1,278 (3 bids: 1,010 - 1,218 - 1,500)
A rare Philistian obol in superb condition on both sides. The 3 letters on the reverse are very clear with a perfect Yod at 3:00. Note the die break running from 10:00 to 1:00 on the reverse and crossing the head of the owl. Only 4 specimens are recorded by Gitler & Tal*, this one shows the finest obverse.
* We highly recommend the book of Gitler & Tal which is not only a reference book written by two leading researchers, its is also an art book showing superb, professional photographs and drawings
2. Yehud obol struck ca. 370 B.C.E. (GBC 1051) 0.54 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,000-1,500 Final: $2,310 (9 bids: 1,255 - 1,360 - 1,428 - 1,805 - 2,000 - 2,000 - 2,118 - 2,200 - 2,455)
An exceptional specimen for this rare Yehud coin type with a totally retrograde reverse: The head of Athena is excellent on obverse, and on the reverse the owl is well detailed and the YHD inscription is just perfect. Better than the GBC (#1051) and TJC (#5) plate coins, this specimen is definitely one of the 2-3 finest known for the type, if not the finest (to compare to the 36 examples listed to date, click here). It is remarkable that this coin type has been struck by a single pair of dies. However, after 30% of coins struck, the reverse die broke in its middle and grew rapidly into a dramatic size, well visible on 70% of the coins. An early stage of the break is visible on this coin, as it was just a tiny line starting above the letter Dalet and crossing the body of the owl.
3. Nabataean drachm struck year 6 C.E. under Aretas IV (Meshorer 94) 4.12 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,300-1,500 Final: $2,630 (8 bids: 1,060 - 1,455 - 1,750 - 1,825 - 2,012 - 2,200 - 2,505 - 3,500)
A superb Nabataean drachm with sumptuous portraits of king Aretas IV on obverse and queen Huldu on reverse. This coin will be published in a forthcoming article by Dr. Rachel Barkay, archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
4. Countermarked prutah of Valerius Gratus struck year 24 CE in Jerusalem (GBC 1340a) 2.27 g.
Start: $1,150 Est. $1,500-1,700 Final: $2,115 (4 bids: 1,200 - 1,801 - 2,015 - 2,501.10)
A very rare countermarked coin of Valerius Gratus with an excellent eye appeal. The countermark is almost complete, deep and well detailed.
5. Herod Agrippa II, AE 18mm struck year 65 C.E. under Nero in Caesarea Paneas (GBC 1270) 5.35 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,317 (4 bids: 1,000 - 1,111 - 1,255 - 1,475)
This interesting coin type, which is the only one ever issued in the name of the Nero's daughter Claudia, has been struck with a few dies, all cut by the same inexperienced engraver*. This coin is in excellent condition on both sides, very similar to the beautiful one sold by NAC 4 years ago (click here) and much better than the one sold at the Heritage Shoshana auction in 2012 (click here).
* The inscription is a bit crude and the letters 'IA' of 'CLAUDIA', at 2:30 on the reverse, are inverted.
6. Bar Kochba Revolt, zuz struck year 134-135 C.E. (3rd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1435) 3.23 g.
Start: $575 Est. $750-950 Final: $789 (4 bids: 610 - 650 - 752 - 870)
A nice zuz in a much better condition than average.
* * * * A series of important city coins, Part 1 of 2 * * * *
7. City of Akko, AE 26mm struck under Galienus (253-268 C.E.) - - - UNLISTED - - - 13.57 g.
Start: $6,250 Est. $8,000-10,000 Final: $8,982 (3 bids: 7,500 - 8,555 - 10,500)
A UNIQUE coin of the highest historical importance. The coin depicts the tower and walls (tell) of the city of Akko, in great architectural details (crenellations, arrowslits). In 57 or 59 C.E., Paul of Tarsus stopped at the city (Acts 21:7). A few years later, it became the first city seen by the roman legions when they arrived by sea to reinforce the local legions who were fighting the rebels during the First Revolt. It is also an important coin for archaeology showing that the tell of Akko was still present and in use in the middle of the 3rd Century C.E. Update September 6th, 11:35 pm: I have just been informed that a 2nd example is known in a famous private collection, from the same pair of dies.
It is known that the gymnasium of Akko was built by Herod the Great, so I suspected the illustration on this coin was also Herodian. To be sure, I asked the opinion of Dr. D. Syon, a leading expert in archaeology and numismatics of the North of Israel. I was completely wrong. He replied: "The ancient tell was gradually abandoned at the end of the Persian period, and Akko moved westward, mostly during the early Hellenistic period. By mid-3rd century the move was mostly finished. The name Ptolemais was given by Ptolemy II, sometime around 280-270 BCE. The inhabitants of Akko built the walls, either under Ptolemaic (probably) or Seleucid domination. Akko was a free polis much of the time, part of Phoenicia. Around 54 CE it was granted the status of a Roman colony. The Maccabees never captured Akko, and even Herod did not rule over it. Herod did not build walls at all (except in Jerusalem), and generally the Romans did not build walls, at least not until the 4th century CE. Roman coins, when they show walls, it’s usually Hellenistic walls that still existed."
8. City of Akko, AE 21mm struck ca. 230 C.E. under Severus Alexander (Kadman 192 var.) 7.21 g.
Start: $350 Est. $500-600 Final: $536 (5 bids: 400 - 425 - 500 - 511 - 600)
This scarce coin type of Akko is the finest I have seen for the type, with a complete inscription on obverse. Note the caduceus on reverse (like on the previous coin) in front of the horse, at 8:00-9:00.
9. City of Ashkelon, AE 24mm struck year 156-157 C.E. under Antonius Pius - - - UNPUBLISHED - - - 16.06 g.
Start: $1,750 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: $3,499 (5 bids: 1,959 - 2,500 - 3,000 - 3,333 - 4,500)
An exceedingly rare, unpublished* coin type of Ashkelon in excellent condition. The only other known example is at the British Museum (click here). The enigmatic figure on the reverse is also known on 2 other extremely rare coin types of Ashkelon, but they were struck under Marcus Aurelius and under Geta. A great article has been dedicated to this figure in Israel Numismatic Research Vol 7 (2012) by R. Palistrant Shaick. For the complete version of this article, under PDF, click here.
* By 'unpublished', I mean a coin type that is not yet listed in a book, catalogue or article but is already known in a public or private collection.
10. City of Caesarea Maritima, AE 30mm struck year 117-138 C.E. under Hadrian (GBC 836 - Ros. 24 - Kadman 27) 21.19 g.
Start: $425 Est. $550-650 Final: $435 (2 bids:425 - 435)
A heavy, impressive coin of Caesarea Maritima in nice condition.
11. City of Gaza, AE 20mm struck year 163 C.E. under Lucius Verus (Ros. 112) 8.07 g.
Start: $625 Est. $800-1,000 Final: $1,262 (7 bids: 810 - 875 - 979 - 1,066 - 1,200 - 1,202 - 1,500)
This is the finest example I have seen for the type. The condition is exceptional on both sides with a gorgeous portrait on obverse.
Auction 76 (August 1-6 2015)
1. Stamped hacksilber ingot of one shekel - First Temple period - (GBC p. 66) 13.35 g.
Start: $1,450 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: $3,732 (8 bids: 1,511 - 1,752 - 2,010 - 2,613 - 3,000 - 3,310 - 3,555 - 5,000)
An extremely rare one-shekel hacksilber ingot from the First Temple period stamped with a circular mark (the letter Ayin?). This piece was part of a little hoard of hacksilber found in Israel. Most of the pieces in this hoard were the usual small, stone-like silver nuggets, but there were two much heavier pieces, both with the same stamp. One of these stamped pieces is presently in the D. Hendin collection and the other is being offered here. These two pieces are apparently the only hacksilber ingots known to have a stamp*. It is remarkable that both pieces have been cut from a disk originally weighing four shekels (50-55 g). With its rounded border, with its weight of 1 shekel, with the mark stamped on it with a die, this sophisticated hacksilber is probably the closest thing we have to a coin of the First Temple period**.
* This stamp is most likely a workshop or banker's mark. If it is a workshop mark, it was probably struck before the separation of each piece, as shown on the illustration below. If it is a banker's mark, the stamp has been struck after the separation into four pieces.
** The earliest 'Judaean' coins (Samaria, Yehud, Edom) were struck about two centuries after the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.
- - - The illustration below shows a possible way for the fabrication of this piece - - -
2. Alexander Jannaeus, UNLISTED prutah struck year 104-76 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC - ) 1.60 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,000-1,300 Final: $2,216 (11 bids: 755 - 850 - 1,000 - 1,000 - 1,040 - 1,401 - 1,500 - 1,880 - 2,000 - 2,111 - 2,355)
An apparently unique prutah of Alexander Jannaeus depicting a lily - symbol of Jerusalem - at the top of the wreath on the obverse. This piece is in excellent condition, even if the reverse is 15-20% of-centered. It is as found, with its original encrustations. It is probable this coin could be nicely improved by manual cleaning and a light restoration, even if the obverse is already excellent, but I would not suggest it. The pristine patina and the original encrustations are the best guarantee the lily has not been added by tooling.
3. Herod the Great, large denomination struck year 37 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1169) 7.74 g.
Start: $775 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,575 (4 bids: 1,155 - 1,277 - 1,500 - 1,800)
An extremely rare and interesting double struck large denomination of Herod. Of the 772 coins listed for the type, only 6 are double struck*. The obverse, with its quasi-complete border of dots still visible in spite of the double strike, is remarkable.
* See also the illustration p. 84 in our book.
4. Nabataea, Aretas IV (9 B.C.E. - 40 C. E.) AE 22 mm struck in Petra (Meshorer 113) 4.59 g.
Start: $275 Est. $400-500 Final: $527 (2 bids: 502 - 600)
Another interesting double-struck coin showing three heads on the obverse, in a nice aesthetic combination". The double strike also appears on the reverse. Interestingly, the illustrations are of exceptional quality on both sides, with the most minute details well visible. The only other 'three-headed' example I have seen was offered in our auction 51, coin #4 (See Archives 2013).
* The normal coin for the type shows the busts of king Aretas IV at left and queen Shuqailat at right (click here).
5. Herod Antipas, half denomination struck year 33 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1212) 4.43 g.
Start: $1,450 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: $3,698 (7 bids: 2,007 - 2,350 - 2,500 - 2,801.01 - 3,005 - 3,522 - 4,500)
A specimen of exceptional quality on both sides, as beautiful as one of the two finest known we offered in our auction 44 (Dec. 2012, see archives) and much better than the GBC and TJC plate coins (GBC 1212, TJC 88). Even if it is one of the most "common" coin types of Antipas, it always comes in a terrible condition (to compare to the 89 examples listed to date, please click here). Struck from the pair of dies O1-R1.
6. Fisci Iudaici sestertius of Nerva, struck year 96 CE in Rome (GBC 1603) 23.80 g.
Start: $16,500 Est. $20,000-25,000 Final: $31,000 (5 bids: 22,500 - 25,100 - 28,000 - 30,303 - 31,000)
A rare Roman Fisci Iudaici sestertius in a fantastic condition on both sides, far above the example sold 3 years ago at the Heritage-Shoshana auction for $77,600 (click here). 'Following his victory in Judaea, Vespasian levied a special poll tax known as the fiscus Iudaicus. Originally a tax of a half shekel (two drachms) which all Jewish men paid annually to the Temple in Jerusalem, it was expanded to include all Jews regardless of age within the Empire. The revenues generated thereby were deposited in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome, and doubled the humiliation of not only paying Rome for the privilege of worship, but also seeing former Temple monies fill pagan coffers. Nonetheless, this tax provided a much-needed source of revenue for the Flavians. Domitian's strident enforcement of the tax led many Jews to conceal their identity to avoid payment; in turn, the emperor vigorously and publicly pursued potential dodgers. The historian Suetonius records one episode in which an old man was stripped naked to determine whether or not he was circumcised and therefore Jewish. To alleviate the burdens imposed by this tax, Nerva wiped out its abuses and relaxed its collection only to those, as Dio Cassius reported, who continued to follow their ancestral customs.' (source: CNG).
A delay of 2-3 weeks is required before receiving this coin.
7. Bar Kochba Revolt, middle bronze struck year 132 CE, 1st year of the revolt (GBC 1378a) 12.34 g.
Start: $1,500 Est. $2,000-2,200 Final: $3,366 (7 bids: 1,850 - 2,000 - 2,650 - 2,801 - 3,200 - 3,206 - 4,700)
A superb middle bronze of the first year of the Bar Kochba revolt. This is the finest specimen I have seen, much better than the GBC, TJC & Mildenberg plate coins. (GBC 1378a, TJC 222e, Mildenberg 42*)
* There is an error in the Mildenberg's book: The coins #36, 37, 38 are not from the die O1.
8. City of Akko, AE 22mm struck under Nero ca. 60-68 C.E. (Kadman 95) 12.91 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-700 Final: $1,181 (6 bids: 501 - 675 - 875 - 1,000 - 1,125 - 1,500)
An interesting coin of Akko, very rare with the lituus on the obverse and in a superb condition for the type.
9. City of Gadara (Decapolis), AE 22mm struck year 217 C. E. under Elagabalus (Ros. 87 - Spij. 83) 10.31 g.
Start: $500 Est. $700-900 Final: $775 (5 bids: 618 - 700 - 700 - 750 - 775)
A rare coin type of Gadara in superb condition on both sides. Struck from the same pair of dies as the one sold 5 years ago by CNG (click here).
Auction 75 (July 1-6 2015)
1. Samarian obol, 4th Century B.C.E. (GBC 1043; Meshorer & Qedar 159) 0.62 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-700 Final: 525 (2 bids: 500 - 555)
A scarce Samarian obol in a better condition than usual. 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 is smoothed and remains enigmatic (GBC and Samarian Coinage both talk about 'traces of inscription' in front of the bull). The 'mythological animal' on reverse is very similar to the Yehud lynx GBC 1065.
2. Samarian obol, 4th Century B.C.E. (Meshorer & Qedar 144) 0.73 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-700 Final: 640 (3 bids: 555 - 610 - 789)
Another Samarian obol in a very nice condition on both sides.
3. Herod the Great, large denomination struck year 37 B.C.E. (GBC 1169) 5.75 g.
Start: $575 Est. $800-1,000 Final: 1,061 (6 bids: 625 - 760 - 888 - 1,000 - 1,011 - 1,155)
A superb coin on both sides with a great depiction of the leaves on the helmet's bowl. Other well visible interesting details on this coin are the filets connecting the top of the palm branches to the top of the helmet's bowl. Pair of dies O14-R74 in our book or online on MCP.
4. Herod Philip, AE 18 mm struck year 29-30 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1228 - TJC 104) 6.10 g.
Start: $1,500 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: 3,360 (6 bids: 1,575 - 2,200 - 2,250 - 2,650 - 3,200 - 5,200)
A rare coin type of Herod Philip in exceptional condition on both sides, much better than the plate coin TJC 104*. The coins of Philip are still very hard to find on the market and they are quasi unobtainable in such a beautiful condition. Interestingly, this coin has been struck on the same year as the coin of Pilate #6 below.
* This type is listed in GBC, but is not illustrated in the plates.
5. Valerius Gratus, prutah struck year 15-16 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1332) 1.54 g.
Start: $350 Est. $500-700 Final: 350 (1 bid: 375)
A superb example for this relatively rare coin type of Gratus with a design inspired from the Hasmonaean dynasty.
6. Pontius Pilate, prutah struck 29-30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1341) 2.43 g.
Start: $225 Est. $300-350 Final: Unsold
This piece is not among the finest examples I have seen for the type, but it is a nice specimen, far above average. Uncleaned and struck on the same year as the coin of Herod Philip #4.
7. Herod Agrippa I, AE 20 mm. struck year 37-38 C.E. in Caesarea Paneas (GBC 1237) 7.67 g.
Start: $6,500 Est. $12,000-15,000 Final: 13,860 (5 bids: 9,650 - 10,111 - 12,000 - 13,200 - 15,600)
Of all the coins struck in Judaea during the
Roman period, this is my favourite. Its historical importance is remarkable for
three reasons in particular:
Original deep black patina, typical of the Golan.
8. Bar Kochba Revolt, barbarous bronze struck year 132-135 C.E. (Unlisted) 5.39 g.
Start: $725 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: 1,620 (3 bids: 1,300 - 1,543 - 1,777)
This is the last specimen of the little group of 3 exceptional barbarous coins of Bar Kochba we have offered since May 1st (see archives 2015). Unlike the 2 other ones, this one is unlisted.
Auction 74 (June 1-7 2015)
1. Herod the Great, large denomination struck year 37 B.C.E. (GBC 1169) 6.02 g.
Start: $425 Est. $550-650 Final: $425 (1 bid: 1,600)
Even if far above average, we already offered better examples for this coin type*. However, this coin struck by the dies O23-R113 shows the leaves decorating the helmet's bowl in exceptional condition. One may think this minute detail is of secondary importance, but it is definitely not the case: As we discussed about in our book, this sophisticated helmet is in fact the parade helmet of Herod the Great himself, as the half denomination shows the combat helmet of his soldiers, much less sophisticated than this one.
The subject is fascinating: For some reasons related to the 2nd commandment, Herod would have never depicted his own portrait on coins, as the Romans did. So he probably decided to illustrate - on his largest coin type - the object that would be the best and most significant symbol of his power and his victory over Antigonus: his parade helmet. Also, I do not believe the palm branches flanking the helmet are here for esthetical reasons only. I see them as a parallel to the laurel wreath the Roman emperors were depicted with on their coins. The bust of Herod the Great is not visible on this coin type. But he did a lot to show us he is almost there.
2. Herod Archelaus, prutah struck year 4 B.C.E. - 6 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1193) 1.58 g.
Start: $375 Est. $500-600 Final: $375 (1 bid: 656)
A nice coin with a remarkable obverse. The reverse is 20-25% off-centered but the inscription is complete. On obverse interestingly, there was room enough to adopt a 'classic' layout for the inscription (in circle along the border of dots), but it is not exactly the case. It is possible the engraver wanted to make something fancy, a bit like some undated types of Herod the Great (see example here). But more likely, it is an error of the engraver who forgot to cut 'D' before 'OY' and who finally cut it under 'W' (the cursive form of omega) at 10:30. Errors and 'creativity' in the inscription are frequent on the coins of Archelaus.
3. Herod Archelaus, prutah struck year 4 B.C.E. - 6 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1197) 1.30 g.
Start: $375 Est. $500-600 Final: $530 (3 bids: 500 - 505 - 600)
Another exceptional coin of Archelaus. On the previous coin, the dynastic name 'Herod' (HPWDOY)* is complete, but on this coin it is abbreviate (HPW) and retrograde.
* Of the 3 sons of Herod having issued coins, Archelaus and Antipas use the dynastic name. Only Philip uses his own name.
4. Herod Antipas, quarter denomination struck year 20 C.E. in Tiberias (GBC 1201) 3.84 g.
Start: $1,250 Est. $1,500-2,000 Final: $2,730 (6 bids: 1.500 - 1,505 - 2,100 - 2,222 - 2,600 - 3,200)
A superb coin of Herod Antipas struck by the pair of dies O1-R5. The reverse die R5 (shown here at left) is interesting: The leaves at right of the reed are truncated and the date KD is combined into a monogram to save space.
5. Valerius Gratus, prutah struck year 16 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1335) 2.12 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-700 Final: $871 (4 bids: 536 - 711 - 830 - 1,000)
This is the finest coin I have seen for the type. There is a little die flaw on the reverse at 11:00. This is the variety with tiny letters on the reverse.
6. Herod Agrippa II, large denomination struck year 74 C.E. in Caesarea Paneas (GBC 1286) 20.56 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-700 Final: $950 (5 bids: 500 - 650 - 708 - 918 - 950)
A very nice example for this scarce, impressive coin depicting the busts of Titus and Domitian, in better condition than the GBC plate coin. This type is the imitation of the medallion GBC 1281 (only 2 known examples).
7. Judaea Capta, medium bronze struck year 83 C.E. in Caesarea Maritima, under Domitian (GBC 1455 - TJC 392) 10.91 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-800 Final: Unsold
A superb example for this Judaea Capta local issue, in better condition than the GBC and TJC plate coins.
8. Bar Kochba Revolt, middle bronze struck year 132-133 C.E. (1st year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1377 - Mild. 23) 10.35 g.
Start: $1,350 Est.: $2,000-2,200 Final: $3,166 (6 bids: 1,501 - 1,775 - 2,000 - 2,350 - 3,016 - 4,500)
A nice coin perfectly centered on both sides with complete, clear inscriptions. Note the retrograde letter lamed at top right of the lyre (the retrograde letters are rare on the Bar Kochba dies). Much better than the 2 specimens offered at the famous Heritage-Shoshana sale, 3 years ago (#20238 & 20239).
9. Bar Kochba Revolt, irregular middle bronze struck year 132-135 C.E. (Mild. 174) 8.61 g.
Start: $1,350 Est.: $2,000-2,200 Final: $4,555 (8 bids: 1,501 - 2,500 - 2,602 - 2,616 - 3,100 - 3,800 - 4,500 - 4,555)
A fantastic irregular issue, much better on both sides than the Mildenberg's plate coin. Exceedingly rare (a single specimen was known to Mildenberg). Original patina and metal in perfect condition.
10. Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) under Elagabalus, bronze struck year 221 C.E. in Jerusalem (Meshorer Aelia 145) 4.03 g.
Start: $675 Est.: $1,000-1,200 Final: Unsold
An important coin type depicting Aquilia Severa, 2nd and 4th wife of Elagabalus. This piece is indeed a brockage*, a rare strike error showing on one side the negative of the other one. This coin is extremely rare, the brockage makes it unique.
* Brockage errors are caused when an already minted coin sticks to the coin die and impresses onto another coin that hasn't been struck yet, pressing a mirror image of the other coin into the blank coin
11. City of Gerasa (Decapolis), bronze struck yr. 147-175 C.E. (Spijkerman 14) 12.19 g.
Start: $425 Est.: $600-800 Final: $892 (4 bids: 555 - 751 - 850 - 1,200)
A rare coin type in superb condition on both sides. The busts of Faustina Junior (on obverse) and Artemis-Tyche (on reverse) are quasi-perfect. Nice original black patina.
Auction 73 (May 1-7 2015)
1. Ashkelon (Philistia). Obol struck ca. 370 B.C.E. (Gitler & Tal III.15O) 0.42 g.
Start: $725 Est. $1,000-1,500 Final: UNSOLD
An extremely rare, early coin type of Ashkelon with a nice stylized head of Athena on the obverse, and on the reverse, a quasi complete owl with clear Aramaic letters aleph and nun at top left of the owl (for 'Ashkelon'). Gitler & Tal only lists 3 examples and I have seen two others, all from the same pair of dies, but this one shows the finest and most complete obverse. Excellent condition for the type and good metal quality on both sides. Uncleaned, with its original patina.
2. UNLISTED Philistian obol struck ca. 370-360 B.C.E. (Gitler & Tal - ) 0.26 g.
Start: $475 Est. $600-700 Final: UNSOLD
An unlisted and apparently unique Philistian coin type: The usual two olive leaves at the back of the owl are replaced by a bearded head (arrow). Unfortunately, the obverse die has been ruined by a major break after a few coins struck, and the striking process has been prematurely aborted.
3. Herod the Great, two prutot struck ca. 30 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1178a) 3.88 g.
Start: $325 Est. $400-500 Final: $393 (2 bids: 375 - 675)
Struck by the pair of dies O42-R60 in our book (plate 49), this is definitely one of the finest known specimens for the type.
4. Herod the Great half prutah struck ca. 13 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1190b) 0.70 g.
Start: $475 Est. $700-800 Final: $737 (4 bids: 556 - 700 - 702 - 826)
For the first time on the market, we are proud to present this 2nd specimen ever seen with the eagle to left*. In the 10-15 last years, I have seen this variety 2 or 3 times on the market, but the attribution was wrong: It was a Nabataean coin type with eagle to left, a bit similar to this one.
* The other one is the plate coin TJC 66b and GBC 1190b. It is in the collection of the Israel Museum (inventory #15312)
5. Countermarked irregular prutah of Pontius Pilate, struck year 30 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342) 1.92 g.
Start: $1,250 Est. $1,500-1,700 Final: $2,205 (6 bids: 1,455 - 1,600 - 1,875 - 2,055 - 2,101 - 2,300.01)
An extremely rare irregular issue ('TIBEPC' instead of 'TIBEPIOY') bearing a countermark of exceptional quality* (to compare to the 19 other known countermarked coins of Pilate, please click here). The date 'LIZ' on the reverse (at 4:30) is also irregular. Only 8 countermarked coins are listed for this coin type and this is one of the 2 finest, with the TJC 336 plate coin.
* To learn more about the countermarked coins of the procurators, here are the two best sources on the subject: 2012: Countermarks on Small Judaean Coins, by Aaron J. Kogon (Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 7); 1993: New Vistas on the Countermarked Coins of the Roman Prefects of Judaea, by Kenneth K. A. Lonnqvist (Israel Numismatic Journal Vol. 12)
6. Prutah of Valerius Gratus (GBC 1338-1340, year 18-25 C.E,) overstruck by Herod Agrippa I (GBC 1244, year 41 C.E.) 2.05 g.
Start: $375 Est. $500-700 Final: $421 (2 bids: 401 - 455)
Recently found in Galilee, an exceedingly rare coin of Valerius Gratus overstruck, 15-20 years later, by Herod Agrippa I. Interestingly, the resulting pattern of both coins is not messy and the underneath illustrations of Gratus remain clear and easy to identify on both sides (this description has been updated on May 4th).
7. First Jewish Revolt, prutah struck year 67 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1360) 2.88 g.
Start: $275 Est. $400-500 Final: $1,056 (5 bids: 325 - 450 - 871 - 1.006 - 1,355)
An interesting double struck prutah of the 2nd year of the revolt. Both illustrations (the amphora and the vine leaf) are visible together on each side.
8. First Jewish Revolt, quarter shekel struck between April 69 and March 70 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1368) 8.00 g.
Start: $2,750 Est. $4,500-6,500 Final: $6,315 (6 bids: 5,000 - 5,200 - 5,555 - 6,000 - 6,015 - 6,333)
A superb example of one of the most sought-after coin types of the First Jewish War, very hard to find in this condition. The inscriptions are clear and complete on both sides. Struck by the pair of dies O4-R7 (click here, a single other specimen is known from this pair).
9. Judaea Capta silver denarius struck early 70 C.E. in Rome (GBC 1479) 3.52 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,200-1,500 Final: $2,310 (6 bids: 952 - 1,111 - 1,750 - 2,044 - 2.200 - 3,803)
A nice Judaea Capta denarius struck a few months before the siege and the destruction of Jerusalem. In mint condition. Beautiful patina with gold and blue reflects, and in better condition than the specimen sold for $2,270.00 at the Heritage-Shoshana auction in 2012 (click here).
10. Herod Agrippa II, large denomination struck year 75 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi (GBC 1288) 17.47 g.
Start: $450 Est. $800-1,000 Final: $540 (3 bids: 450 - 515 - 1,400)
An excellent coin well centered on both sides, and in a much better condition than usual.
11. Bar Kochba zuz struck year 134 C.E., 3rd year of the revolt (GBC 1430a - Mild 246 - TJC 282) 2.52 g.
Start: $1,350 Est. $2,000-3,000 Final: $5,260 (6 bids: 2.750 - 3,333 - 3,855 - 4,600 - 5,010 - 5,500)
An extremely rare and superb irregular zuz, in a much better condition than the one sold for $3,585.00 at the famous Heritage-Shoshana auction, three years ago, from the same pair of dies (click here).
Auction 72 (April 1-7 2015)
1. Samarian obol struck 330-320 B.C.E. (MQ 14) 0.66 g.
Start: $725 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,496 (4 bids: 1,005 - 1,200 - 1,425 - 1,555)
A very rare Samarian coin type in much better condition on both sides than Meshorer & Qedar's plate coin (MQ 14).
2. Herod the Great unstruck large denomination (GBC 1169) 9.18 g.
Start: $1,000 Est. $1,500-2,000 Final: Unsold
An important and possibly unique unstruck flan made for the famous large denomination of Herod the Great GBC 1169. A prominent nipple caused by the casting process protrudes on one side.
While unstruck flans for Hasmonaean and Herodian small denominations (prutot and half prutot) sometimes appear on the market, unstruck flans for medium and large denominations are exceedingly rare and nearly impossible to find. This piece is uncleaned and in perfect condition.
1) About 8-10 years ago, an interesting unstruck flan for a First Revolt shekel was offered by a big numismatic company. Unfortunately, I did not save the picture and it has not been recorded by online numismatic archives.
Item #3 was withdrawn
4. Countermarked prutah of Valerius Gratus struck year 24 CE in Jerusalem (GBC 1340a) 2.27 g.
Start: $1,500 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: Unsold
An extremely rare countermarked coin of Valerius Gratus with an excellent, almost complete countermark (only the top of the letter 'C' at left is missing)  . The eye-appealing configuration on this coin is interesting: A vertical palm branch on the coin itself and a horizontal one on the countermark.
FAKE COUNTERMARKS: It is important to note that more and more fake countermarked coins of procurators have begun to appear on the market. Usually, the coins themselves are genuine but the countermarks on them are modern engravings. Fortunately, they are usually poorly made and it is easy to spot them (see an example of a forged countermark on a coin of Pilate recently sold here, the 'countermark' is at left of the 3 ears of grain).
1. The countermarked coins of Gratus are about twice as rare as countermarked coins of Pontius Pilate: 29 genuine countermarked coins of Pilate have been published, compared to 15 coins of Gratus. The coin offered here is the 16th known Gratus countermark). Source: A. Kogon, see note #2 below.
2. To learn more, here are the two best sources ever published on the subject: 2012: Countermarks on Small Judaean Coins, by Aaron J. Kogon (Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 7); 1993: New Vistas on the Countermarked Coins of the Roman Prefects of Judaea, by Kenneth K. A. Lonnqvist (Israel Numismatic Journal Vol. 12)
5. Prutah of Pontius Pilate struck year 29 CE in Jerusalem (GBC 1341) 2.36 g.
Start: $350 Est. $500-700 Final: $401 (4 bids: 356 - 388 - 400 - 401)
A superb prutah of Pontius Pilate, as beautiful as the GBC plate coin.
6. First Jewish Revolt, countermarked eighth shekel struck year 69 C.E. (4th year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (TJC 214f) 5.63 g.
Start: $6,000 Est.: $8,000-10,000 Final: $10,616 (3 bids: 9,333 - 10,111 - 18,100)
A true piece of history. This coin was struck and used by the Jews while besieged in Jerusalem, and it was then overstruck and re-used by the Roman soldiers who defeated them and destroyed the city and the Temple in 70 CE. Four Roman legions were involved in the battle of Jerusalem, the V, X, XII & XV. This countermark was struck by the tenth legion (LXF for 'Legio X Fretensis'). The countermark also depicts a wild boar facing right. This type of countermark is probably the most beautiful and sophisticated type ever struck by the Roman legions in the East (click here).
Countermarked coins of the Bar Kochba revolt are known and are scarce, but only 2 examples of countermarked coins of the First Revolt are known, including this one. The second coin, pictured on left, is of the same coin type and is in the British Museum (it is the plate coin TJC 214f).
1. A dolphin may be found under the boar, but it is almost invisible because this section of the countermark is too close to the edge of the coin.
2. In most cases, the countermarks were not applied on the Bar Kochba coins, but were already present on the undertypes before restriking.
7. Minima of Caesarea struck year ca. 69-75 CE (?) in Caesarea Maritima (UNLISTED) 0.59 g.
Start: $225 Est.: $300-350 Final: $317 (2 bids: 302 - 552)
This interesting, unlisted minima of Caesarea depicts a symbol of the rebels of the First Revolt on one side (amphora of the year 2 prutah) paired to a symbol of the Roman power on the other side (emperor Galba). It is possible this coin has been struck during the siege of Jerusalem or shortly after its destruction (69-71 CE).
8. Small bronze of Bar Kochba struck year 133 CE (1st year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1380) 5.95 g.
Start: $2,500 Est. $3,000-3,500 Final: Unsold
An exceptional Bar Kochba bronze struck on a larger flan than usual. Certainly the finest - on both sides - I have seen for the type, much better than the plate coins illustrated in the 3 reference catalogues: GBC 1380 - Mildenberg 149 - TJC 224.
9. Middle bronze of Bar Kochba (GBC 1436, year 135 CE) overstruck on a coin of Ptolemy I or II (294-265 BCE) 8.82 g.
Start: $4,500 Est. $5,000-6,000 Final: Unsold
In our sale 57 (January 2014), we were lucky enough to offer the first known coin of Bar Kochba overstruck on an Egyptian coin which was issued some 400 years before the revolt (see picture at left). The coin offered here is the 2nd example known. Interestingly, both overtypes are from the same Bar Kochba series (GBC 1436 & 1437) and they are both overstruck on Egyptian coins from the same period.
Since I do not specialize in Egyptian coins, I have asked the expert Catharine Lorber about the identification of the undertype coin. She replied: "The undertype was an obol of Egyptian Series 2, with the obverse type of Alexander in an elephant headdress. Series 2 was struck from 294 BCE until some time in the middle to late 260s. In other words, the original coin could be attributable to the last decade of Ptolemy I or the first two decades of Ptolemy II".
10. City of Abila (Decapolis) struck year 166 CE under Marcus Aurelius (Spijkerman 2 - Rosenberger 2) 8.94 g.
Start: $375 Est. $500-600 Final: $525 (5 bids: 410 - 475 - 500 - 500 - 555)
An unusually sharp example on both sides for this scarce city coin type. Definitely one of the finest known specimens for the type, if not the finest.
Auction 71 (March 1-9 2015)
1. Philistia. Obol struck ca. 350 B.C.E. (Gitler & Tal XV.3Oa) 0.68 g.
Start: $875 Est. $1,500-2,000 Final: Unsold
Before the publication of the book of Gitler & Tal in 2006, this extremely rare coin type was unlisted. 6 specimens are listed in the book, another one was sold by Heritage-Shoshana 3 years ago (click here), so this coin is the 7th known for the type. Compared to the 6 others, the condition of the obverse of this coin is comparable* as the reverse is better and more detailed.
* Like many other Philistian and Yehud coin types, this obverse die has been prematurely ruined after a few coins struck. Interestingly, for a reason I still don't understand, the Samarian coin makers did not experience such problems (maybe they cut their dies in a harder alloy, maybe they found a striking technique improving the obverse die's lifetime?)
2. Yehud, pre-Ptolemaic period, struck 360-355 B.C.E. (GBC 1057) 0.55 g.
Start: $1,250 Est. $1,500-2,000 Final: $2,625 (5 bids: 1,505 - 1,578 - 2,200 - 2,500 - 3,150)
A gorgeous piece, as beautiful as the GBC and TJC plate coins. On reverse, the 3rd letter of the inscription and the very bottom of the owl are off-centered, but the portrait of the Persian king on obverse is at its best. This coin is definitely one of the 3-4 finest known for the type (click here to see the 118 specimens listed to date for the type).
3. Yehud, pre-Ptolemaic period, struck year 350-345 B.C.E. (GBC 1061) 0.48 g.
Start: $6,500 Est. $8,000-9,000 Final: $9,471 (6 bids: 6,600 - 8,000 - 8,500 - 8,575 - 9,020 - 10,299)
With its fascinating depiction of the Ear of God listening to prayers, it is probably the most 'Biblical' of the Biblical coins. On obverse, even if its top is a bit smashed, the ear is in excellent condition and is one of the 3-5 finest known (only 20 specimens are listed to date, click here). On the reverse, the falcon is much more complete than usual, but there are traces of double strike and only a small part of the inscription is visible due to a flan chip in the same area. Interestingly, the curved die break visible at top left of the ear probably explains why this type is so rare: the obverse die may have been prematurely ruined during the striking process, as we discussed about in the description of the Philistian coin #1 above. Original black patina, pair of dies O1-R1.
4. Yehud hybrid quarter obol, Ptolemaic period (GBC 1087 & 1088 hybrid), struck ca. 294-290 B.C.E. 0.15 g.
Start: $1,450 Est. $2,000-2,500 Final: $1,450 (1 bid: 3,000)
An apparently unique hybrid Yehud coin struck by a GBC 1088 obverse die (with a barbarous head of Ptolemy) and a GBC 1087 reverse die (with a regular, non barbarous eagle). This coin is really important because the Yehud barbarous coins, as well as the hybrids, are exceedingly rare*. Also, it is generally believed that the barbarous dies are never paired to regular dies. It makes this coin a spectacular, unique exception. Fortunately, both sides are well centered and in excellent condition, even if the reverse shows some light roughness.
5. John Hyrcanus, prutah struck year 135-104 B.C.E. in Jerusalem (Hendin 1132) 2.05 g.
Start: $225 Est.: $300-400 Final: $318 (4 bids: 259 - 300 - 303 - 327)
A superb coin with a perfect inscription framed by a complete wreath on the obverse. The reverse is also well centered with a full double cornucopia framed by a 75-80 % complete border of dots. This coin type is relatively common, but extremely rare in such a beautiful condition on both sides.
6. Pontius Pilate, struck year 30-31 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342a) 1.85 g.
Start: $275 Est. $350-450 Final: $308 (4 bids: 277 - 300 - 300 - 308)
Last month, we offered a nice example of GBC 1342b. This one is a 1342a, dated LIZ with a retrograde Z. Note that the top of the lituus is much more rolled up than usual on this die.
7. First Jewish Revolt, barbarous prutah struck year 67-68 C.E. (year 2 of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1360 var.) 2.06 g.
Start: $475 Est. $700-900 Final: $535 (3 bids: 485 - 510 - 715)
An interesting barbarous* prutah in a much better condition than usual on the obverse. At 4:00 on obverse, the letter shin (w-like) is rounded instead of squared on the regular series, and the letter Yud at 1:30 is much cruder than usual. The amphora is also cruder than on the regular series, with a foot in a different axis than the neck. On the reverse at 3:00 - 4:00, a large, deep S-shaped die break is visible. This break probably caused the premature abortion of the striking process with this die.
* I am presently working on the die classification of the irregular series for this coin type (and then on ALL the irregular coins of the First Revolt). When completed, in 1-2 months, the final classification will be posted on this page.
8. Bar Kochba Revolt, zuz struck year 134-135 C.E. (3rd year of the revolt) in Jerusalem (GBC 1435) 3.28 g.
Start: $750 Est.: $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,290 (5 bids: 775 - 1,000 - 1,111 - 1,229 - 1,451)
A superb zuz of the 3rd year of the Bar Kochba revolt, with its original patina. As beautiful as the GBC plate coin #1435.
9. City of Gadara (Decapolis) under Commodus. Struck 179 C.E. (Rosenberger 68 - Spijkerman 67) 5.61 g.
Start: $225 Est.: $300-350 Final: $498 (4 bids: 300 - 358 - 475 - 1,500)
An excellent example for this coin type depicting Zeus on the obverse and a realistic head of Crispina on the reverse. Wife of Commodus, the empress Crispina was accused of adultery, exiled to Capri Island, and then executed. Excellent strike and centering on both sides.
10. City of Charach Moba (Decapolis) under Elagabalus, struck ca. 220 C.E. (Meshorer 275 - Spijkerman 5) 6.94 g.
Start: $650 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $1,050 (5 bids: 725 - 750 - 880 - 1,000 - 1,375)
A rare, nice coin type with an important scene depicted on the reverse*. The obverse is not as good as what we are generally looking for, but the reverse is the finest we have seen, much better than the one sold by CNG 6 years ago (click here). The scarce coinage of Charach Moba was only active during the reign of Elagabalus. It must be noted that the ancient coins depicting temples or ritual objects/sacred vessels are relatively common, but the illustration of a religious activity seen from inside a temple is something remarkable and exceedingly rare that I have never seen on other Greek or Roman coin types.
* This illustration shows a priest seated in front of the shrine of Zeus-Dusares with baetylus set on an altar approached by a ladder.
11. City of Caesarea Maritima (Samaria), AE 25mm struck ca. 225-230 under Severus Alexander (GBC 839v) 12.73 g.
Start: $375 Est. $550-750 Final: $1,050 (9 bids: 400 - 405 - 415 - 500 - 508 - 775 - 875 - 1,000 - 1,600)
A fantastic example for this coin type always found in a much poorer condition and more poorly struck than this one. This is definitely the finest I have seen, much better than the GBC plate coin.
12. Sestertius of Galba (68-69 CE) struck in Rome in November 68 CE (RIC 456) 26.28 g.
Start: $2,250 Est. $3,500-5,000 Final: Unsold
From time to time, we will offer coins that are not Judaean. The coin above is a sestertius of the Emperor Galba, who succeeded Nero. Galba took the power on June 8th 68 CE, as the 10th Roman legion commanded by the future emperor Vespasian was fighting the rebels of the Jewish war in Jericho. After only 7 months of reign, Galba will be lynched by one of his own guards on January 15th 69 CE., the 'year of the four emperors'.
From an old German collection, this exceptional sestertius is perfectly struck and centered on both sides. It is also 100% original, with its original patina, NOT tooled, NOT smoothed. Better and more detailed than the nice - but smoothed - specimen sold by CNG in 2012 (click here). Some light encrustations are still present.
Auction 70 (February 1-9 2015)
1. Philistian drachm, struck ca. 370 B.C.E. in Gaza (GBC 1011) 4.00 g.
Start: $750 Est. $1,000-1,500 Final: $3,687 (5 bids: 1,850 - 3,000 - 3,500 - 3,512 - 4,200)
A gorgeous early Philistian drachm of Gaza depicting a quasi perfect portrait of Athena with its full helmet's crest. The letter Marnas, symbol of Gaza, is visible on the cheek of Athena (see enlargement at left). On the reverse, the bottom left of the owl is off-centered but the strike is much better than usual and the inscription AOE is complete with an interesting letter A looking like a paleo-Hebrew Dalet (enlargement at right). The metal surface of this coin is also remarkable: as Philistian coins are frequently affected by roughness caused by corrosion or crystallisation, this piece is in mint state condition. Delicate grey-black patina.
2. Samarian obol struck ca. 330-320 BCE. - UNLISTED - 0.71 g.
Start: $950 Est. $1,500-2,000 Final: $3,937 (7 bids: 2,000 - 2,775 - 3,000 - 3,200 - 3,500 - 3,750 - 4,456)
An unlisted and possibly unique Samarian obol depicting a facing head* between the Persian king and the lion (see enlargement at right) in excellent condition on both sides. With its diameter of 10 mm, this obol is a bit larger than usual.
* Probably inspired by a Greek theatre mask.
3. Herod the Great, barbarous large denomination struck year 37 BCE in Jerusalem (GBC 1169) 5.56 g.
Start: $425 Est. $600-800 Final: Unsold
Last month, we were lucky to offer the finest ever seen 8 prutot of Herod (see our archives 2015). Struck by the extremely rare pair of dies O25-R105 in our book (plate 28), this is one of the 3 most barbarous pair of dies known for the type. The light weight of this coin (5.56 g) is consistent to such a barbarous piece. The famous 8 prutot of Herod the Great is generally found in poor or relatively poor condition and more or less off-centered, but the die engravers were experienced and the 150-170 regular dies they cut are nice and carefully executed*. It means the quality was an important requirement for this coin type**. It is probably the reason why the irregular and barbarous issues are so rare: Only 1.8% of the 8 prutot of Herod are irregular (plates 28-29 in the book) and only 0.6% are really barbarous like this one (dies O25-R105, O26-R102, O30-R109).
* All these dies have been cut by 3 engravers only. See the description of the Series I, II & III for this coin type in the book.
** The 110-120 dies cut for striking the largest denomination of Mattatayah Antigonus (click here), the predecessor of Herod, were less carefully cut and they were constantly affected by breaks during the strike.
4. Pontius Pilate, struck year 30-31 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1342b) 1.53 g.
Start: $375 Est. $550-650 Final: $375 (3 bids: 375 - 375 -375)
Much better on both sides than the GBC plate coin 1342b, this beautiful piece depicts the irregular date HZ*. The letter H does not mean it is a variety of the LIH coin type (GBC 1343): Here, the letter H must be seen as the letters L & I, but the horizontal bar of L is too high and connected to I.
* I have listed 22 dies dated HZ like this one.
5. Countermarked Herod Agrippa II, struck ca. 60 CE. under Nero in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1271a) 11.31 g.
Start: $325 Est. $450-500 Final: $420 (3 bids: 350 - 401 - 428)
A coin of Agrippa II with a nice, clear countermark of the 10th Roman Legion 'Fretensis'.
6. Herod Agrippa II, small denomination struck year 84-85 CE. in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1322) 1.68 g.
Start: $325 Est. $450-500 Final: $367 (4 bids: 325 - 325 - 350 - 428)
A scare small denomination of Agrippa II in average condition on obverse and exceptional condition on the reverse. Uncleaned with its original encrustations.
7. Bar Kochba Revolt, two middle bronzes struck yr. 133-134 C.E. in Jerusalem (GBC 1408) 9.49 g. (top) 8.67 g. (bottom)
Start: $625 Est. $1,000-1,200 Final: $893 (4 bids: 750 - 800 - 851 - 1,000)
A lot of two nice coins struck by the same die on one side and by different dies on the other side. Both coins are in excellent condition and far above average. Both coins were made at the same workshop from the same die during the Bar Kochba revolt, and they are grouped again 1,900 year later.
8. City of Petra (Decapolis) struck 117-138 CE under Hadrian (Spijkerman 2 - GBC 895 Var.) 12.52 g.
Start: $525 Est. $750-950 Final: $1,260 (6 bids: 555 - 625 - 951 - 1,005 - 1,200 - 1,350)
A scarce coin type struck in Petra, in an exceptional condition and perfectly centered on both sides. Light die shift visible on the reverse inscription from 9:00 to 11:00. By far the finest I have seen.
9. City of Philadelphia (Decapolis) struck 166-177 CE under Commodus (Rosenberger 36 - Spijkerman 33) 6.36 g.
Start: $325 Est. $450-550 Final: $640 (8 bids: 325 - 325 - 350 - 575 - 575 - 575 -610- 1,000)
A superb coin of Philadelphia with perfect portraits on both sides. Same obverse die as the specimen sold by CNG 7 months ago, but different reverse (click here).
Auction 69 (January 1-8 2015)
1. Yehud with a blank obverse & winged lynx on reverse, Struck ca. 320-315 B.C.E. (GBC 1068) 0.18 g.
Start: $775 Est. $1,000-1,300 Final: $1,060 (3 bids: 785 - 1,010 - 1,800)
A rare and amazing type (only 18 specimens are recorded, 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.
2. Mattatiyah Antigonus 40-37 B.C.E. half denomination (GBC 1163) 7.09 g.
Start: $525 Est. $650-750 Final: $525 (1 bid: 755)
Struck by the pair of dies O33-R31 (click here), here is a superb example with an exceptional obverse for the type. The reverse is partially off-centered as usual. Also note the interesting wavy line on obverse running from 1:00 to the top of the ribbon at right of the cornucopia (enlargement). It is not a die break, but a die clash, a rare phenomenon that happens when the dies are struck together with no flan between them*. This wavy line is a remain of a short section of the circle of dots of the reverse die.
* I have also listed die clashes on the Yehud (GBC 1056 & 1065), Hyrcanus (GBC 1136), Herod the Great (GBC 1180) and Bar Kochba (GBC 1436a) coins. To learn more about the die clashes, read our article in Israel Numismatic Research Vol. 3 (2008, click here), and the David Hendin's column in The Celator Vol. 21, No. 10 (October 2007)
3. Herod the Great, large denomination struck year 37 BCE in Jerusalem (GBC 1169) 8.61 g.
Start: $1,750 Est. $2,500-3,000 Final: $5,250 (11 bids: 2,025 - 2,520 - 2,603 - 3,101 - 3,255 - 4,210 - 4,250 - 4,500 - 4,550 - 5,000 - 6,200)
A fabulous coin. With its perfect strike and 100% complete border of dots on both sides, this coin is certainly the finest known for the type and probably the finest known coin of Herod the Great. Struck by the pair of dies O16-R68 in our book (plate 21).
4. Herod the Great, large denomination struck year 37 BCE in Jerusalem (GBC 1169) 6.91 g.
Start: $375 Est. $550-650 Final: $610 (3 bids: 555 - 606 - 610)
Another large denomination of Herod the Great, but struck by the extremely rare pair of dies O20-R96 in our book (plate 23). Probably cut by an apprentice, the reverse die R96 (here at left) shows an interesting unbalanced inscription with most letters in the right area and only 3-4 letters in the left area.
5. Herod the Great, prutah struck ca. 24-23 BCE in Jerusalem (GBC 1173) 1.09 g.
Start: $325 Est. $400-500 Final: $528 (4 bids: 455 - 500 - 503 - 576)
Of the 65 specimens listed for this scarce type (click here), this is the finest known: The inscription on obverse is complete, as well as the anchor on the reverse. This coin type always come in poor to very poor condition and off centered. Pair of dies O1-R1 in our book (plate 58).
6. Governor Valerius Gratus, prutah struck year 15-16 CE in Jerusalem (GBC 1332) 1.69 g.
Start: $375 Est. $500-700 Final: $687 (4 bids: 500 - 630 - 655 - 850)
A superb example for this relatively rare coin type of Gratus with a design inspired from the Hasmonaean dynasty.
7. Herod Agrippa I, large denomination struck year 43-44 CE in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1249) 13.01 g.
Start: $2,750 Est. $3,500-4,000 Final: Unsold
One of the rarest coins of Agrippa I, it is the 12th specimen known for this type which is always found in terrible condition (click here). The reverse is poor but the bust of Caligula is definitely one of the two finest known for the type, as beautiful and well detailed as the GBC plate coin (1249a), but more complete. Much better in hand than the pic.
8. Agrippa II, large denomination struck year 74-75 CE in Caesarea Maritima (GBC 1305) 15.92 g.
Start: $525 Est. $700-800 Final: Sold
An impressive large denomination struck shortly after the fall of Masada, with a superb bust of Vespasian. Same obverse die as GBC 1305.
9. Sestertius of Nerva, struck year 96 CE in Rome (GBC 1603) 25.75 g.
Start: $2,250 Est. $3,500-5,000 Final: $6,825 (6 bids: 5,000 - 5,775 - 6,040 - 6,500 - 6,500 - 7,258)
A very rare Roman Fisci Iudaici sestertius struck in Rome. 'Following his victory in Judaea, Vespasian levied a special poll tax known as the fiscus Iudaicus. Originally a tax of a half shekel (two drachms) which all Jewish men paid annually to the Temple in Jerusalem, it was expanded to include all Jews regardless of age within the Empire. The revenues generated thereby were deposited in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome, and doubled the humiliation of not only paying Rome for the privilege of worship, but also seeing former Temple monies fill pagan coffers. Nonetheless, this tax provided a much-needed source of revenue for the Flavians. Domitian's strident enforcement of the tax led many Jews to conceal their identity to avoid payment; in turn, the emperor vigorously and publicly pursued potential dodgers. The historian Suetonius records one episode in which an old man was stripped naked to determine whether or not he was circumcised and therefore Jewish. To alleviate the burdens imposed by this tax, Nerva wiped out its abuses and relaxed its collection only to those, as Dio Cassius reported, who continued to follow their ancestral customs.' (source: CNG)
10. Sestertius of Hadrian, struck ca. 134-138 CE in Rome (RIC II 746 - Cohen 542) 24.46 g.
Start: $2,250 Est. $3,500-4,500 Final: Unsold
A very rare Roman Disciplina sestertius struck in Rome. 'The discussion in RIC notes that this reverse type "celebrates the military reforms of the Emperor", without defining what specific event triggered the commemoration on this sestertius. It is most likely related to the conclusion of the last great military campaign of Hadrian's reign, the Bar Kochba revolt in Judaea (132-135 AD). As an internal revolt, not an operation against foreign foes, the war did not warrant a coinage commemorating its end, but this coin would indirectly mark its conclusion, praising the legions for their steadfastness while stressing the re-ordering of the armies for peacetime and the standing down from a war footing.' (source: CNG)
The die analysis strengthens this suggestion: As shown on the picture at left, this coin as been struck by the same obverse die as the Iudaea Adventus sestertius we offered in our sale 66 (see archives) and that was commemorating the travel of the emperor Hadrian in Judaea in 130-135 CE. There is some recut in the hair and letters, but it is the same die*. So if this obverse die has been paired to the Iudaea Adventus reverse die and to the Disciplina reverse die, it is then extremely probable the Disciplina sestertius also relates to Judaea.
* An interesting example of recut is well visible on the letters 'NVS' of 'HADRIANVS' at 10:30. On the Disciplina coin (at right), this section is smoothed. If it was due to a defect on the coin (corrosion, faint strike in this area, defect of the flan), the hair of Hadrian below 'S' should be also more or less affected, but it is not the case. It suggests that 'S' was smoothed by wear on the die itself during the strike, a common phenomenon at the time. But on the Iudaea Adventus coin (at left), it is easy to see that the letters 'NVS' have been freshly recut by the engraver. The face, the beard and the neck have not been recut.
11. Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) under Marcus Aurelius & Lucius Verus, struck 161-169 CE (Meshorer Aelia 56 - Sofaer 55) 9.67 g.
Start: $325 Est. $500-600 Final: $430 (3 bids: 325 - 410 - 540)
A very nice specimen with the finest bust of Serapis I have seen on reverse.
12. City of Gadara, struck ca. 161-169 CE under Lucius Verus (Spijkerman 58) 7.17 g.
Start: $275 Est. $350-450 Final: $275 (1 bid: 460)
A superb example on both sides for this scarce type, with beautiful busts and complete, clear inscriptions. The bust on the reverse is not identified.