Judea Coin from Bar Kokhba War Brings $83,375 at Goldbergs'

by World Coin News

The Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers ancient and world coin sale held Oct. 29-30 realized $2,453,128 with a Judeaen bronze of the Bar Kokhba War series bringing in $83,375.

The coin is from the Bar Kokhba War, 132-135 C.E. It measures 32.5mm and weighs 21.19 grams. It is dated Year Two, struck 133/134 C.E. The obverse features a filleted olive wreath and Palaeo-Hebrew inscription in two lines within (“Shim’on”). The reverse shows a twin-handled, fluted amphora; Palaeo-Hebrew inscription around (“Year two of the freedom of Israel”). The catalog described it as smooth, blackish dark green patina, with occasional lighter dusky coloring. “An extraordinary coin in all aspects – strike, flan, metal, style, and preservation. Without a doubt, the finest of its type. Very rare. NGC graded Extremely Fine.”

A gold stater from the Kingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporos, Pharnakes II, 63-47 B.C.E., realized $63,250.

It was struck by the Panticapaeum mint in 53/52 B.C.E. The obverse features a diademed bust of Pharnakes right, with luxuriant hair. On the reverse is Apollo, semi-draped, seated left on a lion-footed throne, holding a laurel branch. The catalog describes it as “Lustrous. Exemplary, sensitive portrait – among the finest in this series. Very Rare. NGC graded About Uncirculated.”

Pharnakes is little known to history. He was son of Rome’s enemy, Mithradates VI, “the Great,” forced his father to commit suicide in 64 B.C.E. to placate the Roman general Pompey, who had surrounded Pharnakes’ citadel at Panticapaeum. In compensation Pompey granted Pharnakes the title King of the Bosporus.

With the death of the Armenian king Tigranes II, the Great, in 55/4 B.C.E, Pharnakes sensed opportunity at reclaiming some of the vast empire created by his father. He quickly threw in his lot with Pompey when civil war broke out between Caesar and Pompey in 49 B.C.E. His initial military successes in the area evaporated with Caesar marching north into Asia Minor in 48 B.C.E., in order to restore the situation and avenge Roman losses. Pharnakes’ army proved no match against Caesar’s troops at the battle of Zela, in mid-47 B.C.E., and were quickly routed. Thus Caesars’ “Veni, Vedi, Vinci” – one of the more famous literary quips to survive from antiquity.

There are approximately 25 known Pharnakes gold coins, ranging in date from c. 55-50 B.C.E., with 10 in museum collections. The famed Hunt specimen, with nearly as fine a portrait, but of a somewhat lower grade (Extremely Fine), realized $48,300 A complete list of prices realized can be viewed at www.goldbergcoins.com.

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