Copy of an ancient shekel, Inv. No. 53.454/10
Brass, Central Europe, perhaps 18th century
Diameter: 33 mm
Shekel (present-day coin)
Nickel alloy, Israel
Diameter: 13 mm
From early modern times, copies of the ancient Hebrew coins that were used to pay Judas for his betrayal spread across Europe. Designed without a detailed knowledge of the originals, they were probably based on Nachmanid’s description of the original coins from Israel. The copied coins were made of various materials – mostly copper and brass, but also silver or tin – and were much larger than the originals. The front depicts a receptacle with the sacrificial fire and the Hebrew inscription “Shekel Israel” (Israeli Shekel) around the perimeter; the reverse depicts an olive branch and the inscription “Yerushalayim Ha-kadosha” (Holy Jerusalem).
The New Israeli Shekel (NIS) is the currency of present-day Israel.