Saturday, April 14, 2012

Year 1 shekel sells for $1.1 million: now that's inflation!

A silver shekel minted after the Jewish revolt against Rome in  66 A.D. sold at auction on March 8th for a record-breaking $1.1 million, making it the most expensive ancient Judean coin ever sold. According to the History Blog:
By minting their own coins they declared themselves independent and sovereign, no longer required to obey Roman laws in contravention of their own religious strictures.
The new shekels were dated from the start of the revolt, so the ones minted in 66 A.D. are inscribed “Year 1.” Moneyers struck a few prototypes first to figure out the design and mechanics of minting large silver coins. Two of those prototypes are known to exist, both struck from the same dies. They were discovered in the late 1970s. One of coins was donated to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The other just sold to an anonymous overseas collector for $1.1 million.
On the reverse of the coin is a ritual chalice encircled by dots and topped with the Paleo-Hebrew inscriptions “Shekel of Israel” and “Year 1.” On the obverse is a staff with three budding pomegranates, symbols of the fertility of the promised land, encircled by dots and the inscription “Jerusalem the Holy” (in yo face, Tyre!). Each side has an outer border of dots.

Above: these Tyre shekels were the model for the Jewish coins.


  1. The head on the Tyre coin looks too robust to be Augustus, so I'm guessing it's I right?

  2. gioconda older & wiserApril 16, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    OMG, I'm mistaken. That bull neck looks more like CALIGULA! My apologies...

  3. I think Nero was the emperor then, but it might have been a coin with a previous emperor.

    1. gio who dares not hit a symbolApril 16, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      It suddenly dawned on me how confusing it would be for an alien civilization to find our pocket change..."This George Washington--he was your leader for centuries, no?"
      BTW, I love your blog--even the comments!

  4. OK not kidding I think we have one of these!!! Found it this morning in an old jar of beads...