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Research Coins: Printed Auction


The Shekels of Tyre

Triton XXII, Lot: 347. Estimate $500.
Sold for $1300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PHOENICIA, Tyre. 126/5 BC-AD 65/6. AR Shekel (24mm, 14.13 g, 1h). Dated CY 109 (18/7 BC). Head of Melkart right, wearing laurel wreath, [lion skin around neck] / Eagle standing left on prow; palm frond in background; to left, PΘ (date) above club; monogram to right, Phoenician A between legs; TYPOY IEPAΣ KAI AΣYΛOY around. DCA-Tyre 406; Rouvier –; RPC I 4640; HGC 10, 357; DCA 920; BMC –. In NGC encapsulation, 4282169-002, graded Ch XF, Strike: 4/5, Surface: 4/5. Rare with this letter between legs.

One of the great cities of Phoenicia, Tyre was subject to the Ptolemies and later the Seleukids, being an important mint for both dynasties. In 126/5 BC, Tyre received a grant of autonomy from the Seleucid crown and immediately inaugurated a civic coinage dated to the new era. The civic silver featured an obverse head of the local god Melqart, and the reverse type of an eagle standing on a prow. Tyrian shekels and half-shekels were minted in large numbers for nearly the next two centuries and circulated widely in nearby Judaea, where, due to their attested purity, they were prescribed by the Jewish authorities as the coins used by Jews to pay their annual Temple dues. In 1982, Ya’akov Meshorer speculated that the Tyrian issues after 18 BC, nearly all with a KP mintmark, were actually struck in Jerusalem; this theory has been widely disputed and is now in disfavor, although it is likely the primary purpose for which the Tyrian silver coinage of the early to mid first century CE was struck was payment of the Temple tax. The New Testament “30 pieces of silver” supposedly paid to Judas for betraying Jesus would almost certainly have been Tyrian issues. This and the following 32 lots represent a range of dates from 18 BC to AD 65/6, the last recorded date of their issue.