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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Year Four Shekel

CNG 111, Lot: 382. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $32500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

JUDAEA, Jewish War. 66-70 CE. AR Shekel (22.5mm, 14.12 g, 12h). Jerusalem mint. Dated year 4 (69/70 CE). Omer cup; “Y[ear] 4” (date) in Hebrew above, “Shekel of Israel” (in Hebrew) around / Sprig of three pomegranates; “Jerusalem the holy” in Hebrew around. Deutsch – (O–/R25); MCP FJR 10, dies O8/R13; Meshorer 207; Kadman 27; Hendin 1364; Bromberg 72; Shoshana I 20212 = Shoshana II 20124; Sofaer 36; Spaer 178. Near EF, die flaws on obverse.

Year 4 shekels are decidedly rarer than those of Years 1-3, reflecting the deteriorating military and political situation of the Judean rebels. While surviving shekels of each of the first three years number in the hundreds, fewer than 50 survive for Year 4. The Jewish forces, increasingly confined to the environs of Jerusalem, were suffering severe shortages of everything from precious metals to foodstuffs, meaning there was far less silver available to strike coins, and very little in the way of goods for them to be spent buying. The dies used for striking coins also show signs of haste in preparation. This specimen appears to have a noticeable metal defect, or “delamination,” in the obverse field left of the chalice; however, this same “metal flaw” appears on the only other known specimen struck from this obverse die (sold in Heritage 3005, May 2009, lot 20062), indicating it is a raised area in the die itself. Normally such a die flaw would have been abraded and polished away before striking, but here it was apparently overlooked or not viewed as important enough to correct, all indications of mounting difficulties at the mint.