The Shoshana collection of Jewish coins: eleven centuries of history
Put together by a Los Angeles collector, the Shoshana collection of Jewish coins is one of the greatest
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Wednesday 1 February 2012
This coming March a US auctioneer is offering a grand collection of Jewish coins with the simple but grand tagline 'The origins of the Jewish people and their homeland as told through coins'.
The collection was carefully put together over 40 years by a committed Los Angeles collector who remains anonymous. 'Shoshana' is a version of the name 'Susanna' and means lily or rose.
There are an amazing 1,800 coins going under the hammer representing a full eleven centuries of Jewish history (500 BCE to 600 CE).
It's difficult to know where to begin with the collection. There are superb sets of Philistian and Yehud silver coins struck in Persian and Hellenistic times, representatives of every major Roman Judaea Capta type (even the gold aureus of Titus known as the Judaea Devicta which is vanishingly rare).
Then there's a truly amazing selection of City Coins in very good condition struck in Judea and Samaria whilst they were under Imperial rule.
"This is a remarkable collection of ancient Jewish and Biblical Coins. It contains many rarities including the unique quarter shekel of the first year of the Jewish War (struck 66/67AD) and the prototype shekel of the same year, of which only two are known to exist.
The quality and range of the coins of the Bar Kochba Revolt are also remarkable. The collection also contains two beautiful examples of the menorah/showbread table coin struck under Mattatayah Antigonus (40-37 BC) the last of the Hasmonean kings.
The most valuable coins are probably those of the Jewish War of 66-70CE. Indeed, two of them are examples of which there are only two known.
The first is a quarter shekel which displays a ritual chalice on the obverse with the text (in Hebrew, naturally) "Jerusalem [the] holy". The reverse shows a staff with three pomegranate buds.
This is the better of two examples, the first being in a private collection in Israel nursing a repaired hole. It is historically important, as it suggests that there was a plan for the rebel Jewish mint in Jerusalem to issue three denominations of silver coins: shekels, half-shekels and quarter-shekels.
It is listed at $850,000, but the expected top lot is a Prototype Year One Shekel. Featuring the same chalice and pomegranate staff imagery, but within more clearly demarcated circular legends.
The other example is in the Israel Museum of Jerusalem. Both examples have a clearly off-centre reverse suggesting that techniques for striking such large silver pieces had not been perfected. Later issues maintained the primary features of the coin, but simplified it in the manner of the other (removing the internal border in particular).
This is expected to sell for $950,000. As it is the last in private hands, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
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