JUDAEA. The Jewish War (AD 66-70). AR quarter-shekel (15mm, 3.10 gm, 11h). NGC (photo certificate) Choice AU 4/5 - 4/5. Jerusalem (Temple?) mint, dated year 4 (April AD 69 - March AD 70). Paleo-Hebrew quarter of a shekel around three palm branches bound together at stalks / Paleo-Hebrew dalet (numeral 4) surrounded by wreath of palm branches, X at bottom. Hendin 1366 (RRR) and plate 35. TJC 210. Meshorer 26. An incredible and important rarity of the Judean series, with only four examples known to exist, one of which is in the British Museum.
This coin has been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. It may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer. E-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.
Of the silver denominations issued by the Jewish War insurgents, by far the rarest is the quarter-shekel. Only six are now known to have survived -- two of Year 1, and four of Year 4. Heritage has been privileged to offer two of these incredibly rare Jewish War quarter-shekels at auction, one of Year 1 (Shoshana Collection, 4 March 2012, lot 20201, realized $896,250) and the present specimen, dated Year 4 of the war (April AD 69 to March AD 70). For more than a century, the British Museum collection held the single known Year 4 quarter-shekel specimen, of such an unusual design that many doubted it could be genuine. G.F. Hill, the BM's Kepper of Coins, described it as "unique but of absolutely undoubted authenticity" due to the heavy layer of oxide that coated it. Its authenticity was confirmed prior to 2010 by discovery of two more specimens. More recently a fourth has come to light, the present example, which is quite similar in strike, centering and overall condition to the example imaged in the most recent edition of David Hendin's "Guide to Biblical Coins" (Amphora, 2010).
The shekels, half shekels and Year 1 quarter shekels all bore a similar design, with an obverse depicting a ritual cup with a pearled rim, and the reverse depicting three pomegranates on a single stem. The Year 4 quarter-shekel, however, represents a sharp departure in imagery from these earlier issues: Three bound palm branches backed with a wreath with an X at the base. The legend denotes only the denomination (quarter of a shekel) and the year of issue (the Paleo-Hebrew dalet, which looks curiously like a modern Arabic numeral 4). Surprisingly, both motifs recall similar images on the bronze coinage of the Roman procurators of Judaea.
By the fourth year of the Jewish War, the Jewish rebels were in dire straits. The Romans had recaptured most of the countryside and, by the end of AD 69, had placed Jerusalem under siege. Meanwhile, a horrific internecine civil war among three different factions within Jerusalem had killed tens of thousands of Jews and reduced the city's stockpiles of food and other necessities to nil. Silver shekels of Year 4 are considerably rarer than those of the previous years, half-shekels rarer still. It is highly likely the extremely limited striking of quarter-shekels came early in April of 69, when there were still adequate supplies of silver at the Temple mint. Within a few weeks the Jews had resorted to using bronze to strike fiduciary fractions of the shekel, from half to eighth; these may have been produced by another Jewish faction than the Zealots who controlled the Temple mint.
Jerusalem finally fell to the Roman legions of Titus in September AD 70, leading to the complete destruction of the Temple and tens of thousands of deaths. A few rebels fled to the mountain fortress of Masada, where they continued to resist for another four years until it, too, fell following a heroic last stand and suicide by its defenders. All told, more than a million people died in the Jewish War, with nearly 100,000 sold into slavery.
Estimate: 350000-500000 USD