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David Jacobson Wins American Israel Numismatic Association 2021 Shekel Prize

David Jacobson, Associate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, has won the Shekel Prize Medal, awarded by the American Israel Numismatic Association (AINA) for “Agrippa II, the Last of the Herods” as the best 2020 publication on Judaic/Israel numismatics.

“It is a great honor to be the recipient of this prestigious award and I greatly appreciate the esteem of the members of the judging committee of my endeavors,” Jacobson said upon receiving the news.

He further described his attraction to the subject:

“What drew me to studying the coinage of the last Herodian monarch Agrippa II, the last Herodian king in the Land of Israel were its distinctive characteristics. His coin issues are prolific, almost equalling the combined total of all the previous Herodian kings and tetrarchs. Its other striking feature was the closeness of its various coin designs to those of Roman coins.

“I quickly realized that the coinage of Agrippa II had hitherto not received adequate treatment and so decided to investigate it myself. In my first study of this coinage, I was able to show that the coin denominations reflect a move to integrate Agrippa II’s currency system with the Roman one (Israel Numismatic Journal 19 (2016), 63-75). Delving deeper, I found that I could use the era used on his coins to pinpoint the year of his death to 94/95 CE. Hitherto, the end of Agrippa’s reign had remained an unsettled question, in contention among scholars.

“When I began to examine Agrippa II’s coins, it struck me that there was no proper biographical study of that king, so I decided to write my own account, which has now been published under the title “Agrippa II: The Last of the Herods”. This monograph reveals important new facts about him, his relationship with his sister Berenice and the reasons for Agrippa’s abandonment of the Jews during and after the war against Rome (the First Revolt). These findings are in addition to what I have managed to learn about Agrippa II and his times from his coins. I hope that those interested in the Herodian kings and numismatics will wish to read my book and perhaps find answers to some of their questions.”

The other entries for the 2020 Shekel Prize were “Catalog of Paper Payment Tokens in Israel” by Alexander Golberg; “Guide Book of Banknotes, Coins and Tokens of Israel” published by Isranumis; and “Medals of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame 1969-2019” by Mel Wacks. The winning book and the other nominees are all available on Amazon. The distinguished panel of judges includes Dr. Haim Gitler, Israel Museum Curator of Numismatics; David Hendin, American Numismatic Society (ANS) Vice President; Simcha Kuritzky, President of AINA; Dr. Ira Rezak, AINA Board Member; and the committee chair, Mel Wacks, President Emeritus of AINA.

Further information about past Shekel prize winners and the American Israel Numismatic Association is available at www.theshekel.org.

The Shekel Prize is an extremely-high-relief three-inch medal designed by Victor Huster. Featured are three shekel designs: from a circa 8th century BCE shekel stone weight, a shekel of the First Revolt (66-70 CE), and 1-new shekel (issued by Israel beginning in 1985).

* * *

Join David Hendin and Ira Rezak for Seminar on Jewish Numismatics

The American Israel Numismatic Association (AINA) presents their first remote seminar on Jewish numismatics. Speakers and topics include:

  • Simcha Kuritzky: introductory remarks
  • David Hendin: “Hasmonean Coins”
  • Ira Rezak: “The Medals of Moses Murro, Bezalel Artist”
  • Simcha Kuritzky: “The Significance of 314”


March 14, 2021 / ראש חדש ניסן

  • 7 PM Israel
  • 5 PM GMT England
  • 1 PM EDT
  • Noon Central
  • 11 AM Mountain
  • 10 AM Pacific

The program is expected to run under two hours with time for questions and answers after each talk, and a general Q&A afterward.

For the Zoom link and passcodes, contact [email protected].

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