Editor's note: The following is the second of a five-part Coin
World series about collecting emergency coinage, prepared by Jeff
Starck for the March 2015 monthly edition of Coin World.
War between the Romans and Jewish resisters in Jerusalem several
centuries later forms the backdrop for another issue of emergency money.
The revolt against the Romans began in A.D. 66 and eventually led to
the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the massacre of
the Jewish resisters in A.D. 70.
The final period of this bloody struggle was known as the Bar Kochba
Revolt. Simon Bar Kosiba took the name Bar Kochba, which means “Son of
a Star,” and became the commander for the Jewish forces.
As the revolt progressed, coinage was needed for use by the Jews.
Silver and bronze Roman coins were overstruck with Jewish images and
Coins were issued for five years, and are available in multiple
denominations. Expert David Hendin explores them in Guide to
Biblical Coins, now in its fifth edition.
The designs vary, though, with numerous symbols of import to the
The silver sela or tetradrachm features what may be the most
symbolic design, the only numismatic representation of the Jerusalem
Temple, although it is unclear whether it is meant to depict the
Herodian temple destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70 or a new temple
longed for by the messianic Shimon bar Kochba and his followers.
Many examples of Bar Kochba coinage display enough details to
determine the coin serving as the undertype or planchet for the newly
fashioned emergency money.
Examples of Bar Kochba coinage vary in price by year, denomination
and condition, from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
For example, a Very Fine example of a Year 3 (circa 134 to 135 A.D.)
sela sold Oct. 30, 2014, in a Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio auction for
$6,463, including the 17.5 percent buyer’s fee.
On the other end of the price scale, nine different coins of various
dates, denominations and conditions sold Jan. 6, 2015, in the New York
Sale auction, for prices ranging from $298 to $995, including the 17
percent buyer’s fee.
When government-issued counterfeits or restruck coinage wasn’t
possible, sometimes coiners got more creative.
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