David Jacobson Wins 2021 Shekel Prize

The winner of the Shekel Prize 2021: David Jacobson.
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David Jacobson, Associate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies Faculty, University of Oxford, has won the Shekel Prize Medal, awarded by the American Israel Numismatic Association for “Agrippa II, the Last of the Herods” as the best 2020 publication on Judaic/Israel numismatics. Upon receiving the news, Jacobson indicated: “It is a great honor to be the recipient of this prestigious award and I greatly appreciate the esteem of the members of the judging committee of my endeavors.”

The prestigious Shekel Prize Medal was manufactured by Victor Huster in Baden-Baden, commissioned by the American Israel Numismatic Association.

Jacobson has described his attraction to the subject: “What drew me to studying the coinage of the last Herodian monarch Agrippa II, the last Herodian king in the Land of Israel were its distinctive characteristics. His coin issues are prolific, almost equaling the combined total of all the previous Herodian kings and tetrarchs. Its other striking feature was the closeness of its various coin designs to those of Roman coins.”

“I quickly realized that the coinage of Agrippa II had hitherto not received adequate treatment and so decided to investigate it myself. In my first study of this coinage, I was able to show that the coin denominations reflect a move to integrate Agrippa II’s currency system with the Roman one (Israel Numismatic Journal 19 (2016), 63-75). Delving deeper, I found that I could use the era used on his coins to pinpoint the year of his death to 94/95 CE. Hitherto, the end of Agrippa’s reign had remained an unsettled question, in contention among scholars.

Herod Agrippa II never portrayed himself on his coins, but he did appear as a teenager on extremely rare issues of his father Herod Agrippa I struck 40/41 C.E. in Caesarea Philippi. Courtesy of Fontanille Coins.

“When I began to examine Agrippa II’s coins, it struck me that there was no proper biographical study of that king, so I decided to write my own account, which has now been published under the title “Agrippa II: The Last of the Herods”. This monograph reveals important new facts about him, his relationship with his sister Berenice and the reasons for Agrippa’s abandonment of the Jews during and after the war against Rome (the First Revolt). These findings are in addition to what I have managed to learn about Agrippa II and his times from his coins. I hope that those interested in the Herodian kings and numismatics will wish to read my book and perhaps find answers to some of their questions.”

The other entries for the 2020 Shekel Prize were “Catalog of Paper Payment Tokens in Israel” by Alexander Golberg, “Guide Book of Banknotes, Coins and Tokens of Israel” published by Isranumis, and “Medals of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame 1969-2019” by Mel Wacks. The winning book and the other nominees are all available on amazon. The distinguished panel of judges includes Dr. Haim Gitler, Israel Museum Curator of Numismatics; David Hendin, American Numismatic Society Vice President; Simcha Kuritzky, President of AINA; Dr. Ira Rezak, AINA Board Member; and the committee chair, Mel Wacks, President Emeritus of AINA.


For further information on the AINA go to the American Israel Numismatic Association website.

There you will learn also more about the Shekel prize medal and previous Shekel prize winners.

The Shekel Prize Medal was manufactured by Victor Huster in Baden-Baden.

Last year Simcha Kuritzky became president of AINA after Mel Wacks stepped down from this position.