Monday, December 22, 2003

Coin of the Week - A Tribute Penny

As Christmas is approaching quickly, I thought the posting of a historically relevant coin would be in order (superb image courtesy of Amphora Coins).

This silver denarius of the Roman Emperor Tiberius is typically thought to be the Tribute Penny mentioned in the Christian Bible (Matthew 22:16, Mark 12:13 and Luke 20:22).

On the obverse the portrait of Tiberius.
On the reverse, the empress Livia seated right as a personification of the Roman goddess Pax with an olive branch.

Amphora has this excellent example of the coin in extra fine condition for sale for $2000.00. Less fine examples can be obtained for less.

For a view that the tribute penny mentioned in the bible might not in fact be this coin, see Michael Marotta's interesting article Six Casears of the Tribute Penny. The Bible sadly does not fully describe the coin mentioned (the work was clearly not written to satisfy future numismatists in their quest for the coin's identification) so the true tribute penny may always be in some doubt.

Like many historical controversies concerning the ancient world, this one will likely never be fully resolved. The current conventional wisdom among numismatists is that this coin is the Tribute Penny.

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