1897 South African Republic sixpence to cross block in January

A unique 1897 gold South African Republic sixpence is to lead Heritage Auctions' January 4-5 World & Ancient Coins sale in New York.

This is the first time that the lot, valued at a conservative $250,000-350,000, has ever been offered up for auction.

gold sixpence SA
The gold 1867 sixpence is the only example of its kind

It was formerly part of the acclaimed Royal Baldwin collection.

The coin displays an image of Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic from 1883-1900, and is the only gold specimen extant.

Heritage comment: "Though its uniqueness is in many respects its most desirable attribute, this fact is compounded by the outstanding beauty that it presents!

"This coin is a true and unqualified 'national treasure.'"

Also on offer is a unique set of 38 Tyrian shekels dating from 5 BC to AD 34, the alleged lifespan of Jesus Christ, which is valued at $150,000-200,000.

Tyre is a city in the state now known as the Lebanon. Its currency was used extensively throughout the Middle East during ancient times and is referred to a number of times in the bible.

Heritage comment: "Since Tyrian shekels were the only large silver coins to circulate heavily in the Judaea, Samaria, Galilee and the Decapolis, the very regions Jesus of Nazareth frequented during his itinerant ministry, the question must be asked: What are the chances that Jesus himself, or one of his disciples, or one of the other figures mentioned in the Gospels, actually touched or held one of the coins in this collection?"

We have a fascinating selection of rare coins available, although sadly none touched by Jesus.

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