The first silver shekel struck in Jerusalem by Jewish forces rebelling against Roman oppression in the first century CE, one of only two specimens known, brought a world record price of $1,105,375 at Heritage Auctions on March 8 as part of the auction of The Shoshana Collection of Ancient Coins of Judea. This coin kept an unbreakable record until March 2021 and sold to an anonymous overseas collector. The collection, consisting of more than 2,200 coins in total, is expected to realize more than $10 million over multiple auctions this year, the first of which began Thursday.
“This Year 1 silver shekel, struck shortly after the Jewish War began in May of 66 CE, is an incredible piece of history,” said Cris Bierrenbach, Executive Vice President of Heritage Auctions. “This is literally one of the very first coins the Jewish rebels struck after the ousted the Romans from Jerusalem, sending shockwaves through the empire. That history, as evidenced by the spirited bidding and the superb price realized, obviously continues to resonate today, more than 2,000 years later.”
Jewish War (66 – 70 AD). AR shekel (24mm, 13.34 gm, 10h). Year 1. LARSy LkS (shekel of Israel); A ([year] 1) above ritual chalice with smooth, wide rim, pellet on either side, the base has pearled ends, circle of dots all around chalice and also outer legend / US¿k M>Säry (Jerusalem [the] holy); staff with three pomegranate buds, round base, circle of dots all around pomegranates and also around outer legend. Hendin 1352. TJC 183 (this coin). AJC II 259,1 (this coin). Samuels 79 (this coin). Good Extremely Fine.
This is one of two known examples of a prototype design for the first shekel struck by the Jews in the Jewish War. The other known specimen is in the collection of the The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The type was unknown until the two specimens were discovered in the late 1970s, both struck from the same set of dies. The extreme rarity suggests the issue was very small, perhaps limited to a few trial strikes in the manner of a modern pattern. Both the Shoshana and Israel Museum specimens display similar centering, with the reverse slightly off-center to left, suggesting the moneyers in Jerusalem had not yet perfected their techniques for striking such large silver pieces. While the major elements of the design were retained in the second generation issues, subsequent shekels were greatly simplified, with the inner dotted border removed and the Paleo Hebrew lettering rendered in a much less elaborate style.
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