By Mel Wacks
Goldberg Auctioneers have probably hammered down more ancient Judaean coins than anyone else. Their Pre-Long Beach Auction on June 4-5 of The Moussaief Collection Part II featured over 200 coins ranging from Alexander the Great issues struck in Judaea during his lifetime (336-323 BCE) and afterwards, to coins issued by Simon Bar Kochba during the failed Second Revolt (132-135 CE), and some Judaea City Coins made by the Romans in the following decades.
An example of the early coins sold was issued during the Ptolemaic occupation (285-246 BCE) by Ptolemy II Philadelphos. The tiny silver Hemidrachm, weighing a mere 1.49 gm. sold for $21,000, more than double the $10,000+ estimate. It was described by the auctioneer as ‘Diademed head of Ptolemy I right. Reverse: 'YHDH' (paleo-Hebrew), eagle with wings displayed standing left on thunderbolt. Hendin 1085; TJC 31a. Extremely Rare. Toned. Choice Very Fine. Only a small handful of this denomination survive.’
No respectable Judaean coin auction would be complete without the famous silver Shekels issued during the First Revolt (66-70 CE), and Moussaieff II contained a total of 11 Shekels and Half Shekels issued during the first three years of the war. The star performer in this category was a Year Two (67/8 CE) Half Shekel that brought $20,000 vs. the $9,000+ estimate. It was described in the catalog as: 'Half of a shekel' (Paleo-Hebrew), ritual chalice with pearled rim, the base raised by projections on both ends; above, 'year 2'. Reverse: 'Jerusalem the holy' (Paleo-Hebrew), staff with three pomegranate buds, round base. Hendin 1359; TJC 195. Well struck and nicely centered. Traces of luster still present. Extremely Fine.’
Moussaieff II featured a number of coins that the Romans issued following the end of the First Revolt (in 70 CE)—the famous Judaea Capta series. A bronze Sestertius, with remarkable detail in the portraits of the standing Emperor Vespasian and the seated woman (representing Judaea) brought $12,000, triple the estimate of $4,000+. The coin was described as: ‘Rome, 71 CE. IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P P P COS III, laureate head of Vespasian right. Reverse: IVDAEA CAPTA, S C in exergue, palm tree; to left, emperor standing right, foot on helmet, holding spear and parazonium; to right, Jewess in attitude of mourning seated right on cuirass. Hendin 1504; RIC 167; BN 497-8; BMC 543. Smoothed and with tooling, dark patination. About Extremely Fine.’
Goldberg’s Pre-Long Beach Sale featured over 75 coins issued during the Second Revolt (132-5 CE), mostly silver Selas (Tetradrachms) and Zuzim (Denarii). All of these issues are struck over Roman coins. One of the most dramatic overstrikes was evident in a Zus, described as follows: ‘Undated, attributed to year 3 (134/5 CE). 'Simon' (Paleo-Hebrew), bunch of grapes with leaf and tendril. Rev. ‘For the freedom of Jerusalem’ (Paleo-Hebrew), upright palm branch. Hendin 1430; Mildenberg 170 (O21/R103); TJC 272c. Struck on a denarius of Titus with a clear portrait of the emperor. Toned. Basically as struck. Sharpness of Very Fine / Extremely Fine. From the Palm Desert Collection. The estimated value was $1,000+, and it sold for $2,300.’
The very first Second Revolt coin from the Moussaieff Collection brought the highest winning bid in this group--$77,500, exceeding Goldberg’s estimate of $75,000. It was headed ‘Magnificent’ in the catalog, and described as: ‘Jerusalem’ (Paleo-Hebrew), tetrastyle façade of the Temple of Jerusalem; show bread table or Ark of the Covenant in chest form with semicircular lid and short legs, seen from a narrow side. Rev. ‘Year one of the redemption of Israel’ (Paleo-Hebrew), lulav with etrog at left. Hendin 1373; Mildenberg 1 (O1/R3); TJC 218. Very rare. An absolutely incredible example! Boldly struck and well centered with nice wide margins. Virtually as struck! Traces of luster is still evident. One of the finest in existence. Superb Extremely Fine.’
For a full list of all sales results from Goldberg Auctioneer’s June 4-5 sale visit www.goldbergcoins.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/67/?page=1.