One of the most extensive collections of extraordinary high quality ancient Jewish coins, assembled by a Long Island Doctor over two decades, will be auctioned at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on January 10. Included are a remarkable number (45) of extremely rare silver coins picturing the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, minted just 60 years after the Temple had been destroyed in 70 CE. Each of these museum-quality, approximately quarter-dollar-size silver coins pictures the interior of the Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant surrounded by columns, usually with a star above–thought to refer to the Jewish leader Simon Bar Kochba (Simon Son of the Star), who was proclaimed the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva, and whose name, in ancient Hebrew, surrounds the Temple. The other side of the Temple coins features lulav and etrog, along with Hebrew inscriptions like “For the Freedom of Israel.” The auction company estimates that most of the Holy Temple coins will sell for $5,000 USD and up.
Bar Kochba Revolt Year Two Temple Sela, 133/4 CE. All images courtesy Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers
The Holy Temple coins and others were issued by Simon Bar Kochba beginning in 130 CE when he led a revolt upon learning that the Roman emperor Hadrian planned to build a temple on the holy Temple site dedicated to the god Jupiter (Zeus). When the Jews watched the stones of the Sanctuary being used to erect temples for heathen gods, no choice was left to them but to interrupt the building of the Roman colony by force of arms before it was completed. But the might of Rome was too much for the Jewish freedom fighters, and the coins issued by Bar Kochba in the third year of the conflict (133/4 CE were the last Jewish coins struck in the Holy Land until the establishment of Israel in 1948.
The Roman and Greek overlords of Judaea did not allow their Jewish subjects to strike silver coins, so the only silver coins issued were during the Bar Kochba Revolt (130-134 CE) and the First Revolt (66-70 CE), when the famous Judaean Shekels were made. The Brody Family Collection contains a Shekel and a Half Shekel from each of the first three years of the Revolt, and the extremely rare Shekel from the fourth year, each in Extremely Fine to unbelievable Mint quality. The catalog indicates that the Year Four Shekel is “Among the finest known examples,” and it is estimated at $30,000.
First Revolt Year Four Shekel, 69/70 CE
No first-tier ancient Jewish coin collection should lack the famous Menorah coin issued in the last days of the Hasmonean king Mattathias Antigonus, when the kingdom was about to pass into the hands of Herod the Great (c. 37 BCE). Brody’s small bronze “prutah” features the Table of Shewbread on the other side, and is estimated to bring a minimum of $25,000. Other bronze prutahs issued by the earlier Hasmonean rulers beginning in 134 BCE feature double cornucopiae, anchors, etc. (but never a portrait due to the commandment against graven images), carry auction estimates as low as $150.
The ancient Jews never struck a gold coin, but the nation of Judaea was referred to on gold (as well as silver and bronze) coins issued by the Romans following the defeat of Judaea and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The cataloguer describes one of the gold aureus specimens as “Marvelous.” This Judaea Capta type features a bold “IVDAEA” inscription beneath a seated female figure in the attitude of mourning, and a portrait of the emperor Vespasian, who also led the Roman troops against the Judaean freedom fighters. It is expected to be hammered down for over $60,000.
Judaea Capta Aureus 69/70 CE
Whether you are interested in Jewish history or might want to add ancient Jewish coins to your Judaica collection, all 238 lots of the Brody Family Collection can be viewed on the website of Goldberg Auctioneers at www.goldbergcoins.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/53. You can also register to bid at www.goldbergcoins.com/login, and you can view the actual coins at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (Norse Suite) on January 9-10 before the sale at 7:00 PM on January 10.
For questions or to order a catalog, call (310) 551-2646; mention that you read about it on CoinWeek and the cost is only $15 (regularly $30 – a 50% discount!).