1897 South African sixpence makes $176,500 in New York sale

A one of a kind 1897 South African Republic copper sixpence has sold for $176,250 at Heritage Auctions.

The lot headlined the World and Ancient Coins Signature Auction in New York on January 5.

SAR copper sixpence
The unique sixpence was minted in 1897

It displays a bust of Paul Kruger, president of the republic during the first Boer war (1880-1881), and was minted two years before he was forced to flee the country at the outset of the second conflict (1899-1902).

The issue is one of a handful of unique 1897 sixpences issued in unconventional metals (a gold specimen also starred in the auction but failed to sell).

Heritage described it as "a coin that again deserves to reside in a most-important South African cabinet; after all, no collection of Kruger's coinage can truly ever be complete without it!"

A collection of 38 Tyrian shekels dating from 5 BC to AD 34 (the alleged lifespan of Jesus Christ) made $146,875.

Heritage explained the appeal of the fascinating collection: "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?"

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