Press Release - February 29, 2004

Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers To Sell Authentic Coins of "The Passion"

Dallas, Texas: The controversy and widespread publicity over Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" has inspired one collector of Biblical coinages to part with some treasures from his extensive collection. Heritage World Coin Auctions of Dallas will sell the two thousand year old coins at their June 2004 auction being held in Long Beach, California. Mel Gibson's film is based on Gospel accounts of the last hours of the life of Jesus, and has been stirring unprecedented controversy for a year before its release last week.

"Our consignor has been following the controversy," explained Warren Tucker, Director of Heritage World Coin Auctions, "and wishes to remain anonymous because of the vehemence of the feelings being expressed daily in the news. However, he also thinks that it is a great time to remind the public that coins from ancient Judaea still exist today, and give us a tangible link to those ancient times. In fact, the coins of the Jewish revolts and uprisings present an important history of their efforts to be free."

"There are many different coins mentioned in the Bible," continued Tucker, "and they have been avidly collected for centuries because of their historic and Scriptural significance. The earliest Scriptural mention of currency goes as far back as the time of Abraham, some 1900 years before the birth of Christ. Both gold and coins are mentioned in the Bible as early as Genesis. There is something mesmerizing about holding a lepton in your hand - this is a small bronze coin, many of which were actually issued by Pontius Pilate. Coin collectors find that their hobby allows their imaginations to travel around the world and back to ancient times."

"One of the most popular of these Biblical coin types are the silver shekels of Judea and Tyre," continued Tucker, "often pursued as the type of coin specified in Matthew 27:3-8 as one of the "thirty pieces of silver' paid to Judas for his betrayal of Christ. The shekel is the same size coin as the silver tetradrachms (four drachms) coins minted in Syria, Phoenicia, and Egypt which all circulated at the same time in the Holy Land. While I will emphasize that we are not saying that we will be auctioning one of the original 'thirty pieces of silver,' nor can there be any evidence that any one of these coins was not part of that shameful payment. That very uncertainty helps account for their sobering significance to collectors. These coins routinely sell in the $750 to $2,500 range."

Continued Tucker "Of special interest to coin collectors are the so-called 'Widow's Mites' mentioned in Mark 12: 41-44. Only Jewish coins were permitted in the Temple Treasury, and it was the business of the moneychangers to exchange secular money for Jewish coinage (for a small consideration). Because so much of Biblical numismatics is related to the struggle of the Jews for freedom, there has never been any charge of anti-Semitism attached to collecting these coins. Donations from or for widows have never created much controversy."

The coin probably mentioned most often in the Bible is the "penny," often referred to as the Tribute penny (Matthew 22:15-22). Most modern readers assume this to be a bronze coin, as are the modern "cent" or "penny." These were actually silver coins, so-named because at the time of the King James Version translation, the British penny was a silver coin of similar size and weight to the Roman denarius. When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees as to whether or not He thought it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, he asked to be shown tribute money. They brought him the silver 'penny' which bore the image of Caesar (probably Tiberius); referring to the image, Jesus replied "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's?."

The Biblical coins will be arriving in Dallas on March 2nd, and will be placed on display at Heritage's world headquarters. Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers is located at 3500 Maple Avenue in Dallas, Texas; their showroom is located on the 17th Floor.

Heritage World Coin Auctions is part of the Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers family, with its world headquarters in Dallas Texas. HWCA specializes in auctioning rare coins and paper money of the world. HG&A is the world's largest auctioneer of collectibles, selling rare coins, paper money, comics and comic art, illustration and fine art, movie poster and Hollywood memorabilia, sports cards and sports collectibles, and silverware.

Images of the Biblical coins will be posted on the Heritage website next week. Images will be available after the arrival of the coins in Dallas.

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