The (Pagan) Father of Christmas

Contrary to popular belief, the Father of Christmas was a pagan. This ancient bronze coin commemorates Aurelian, the man who determined the date of Christmas:

While it would avoid a lot of confusion if Jesus had been born in the year 1 AD, the truth is, no one knows when the First Noel actually happened. The consensus among historians is 3 BCE, which means that Christ was actually born three years Before Christ.

If we don’t know the year, we certainly don’t know the day. If the Gospels are to be believed, Jesus was probably a spring baby, as shepherds don’t keep watch over their flocks in the winter. And yet Christmas has been celebrated on December 25 for almost 18 centuries. How was that date decided on? Continue reading

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Nelson Mandela, RIP

The eyes of the world are turned toward South Africa, where anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela has died.

The 94-year-old revolutionary leader and former president of South Africa was honored by his government with a series of banknotes featuring his portrait, issued last year. Here is a 10 rand note:

For wholesale information on this remarkable issue, please contact us.

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New Item: Papua New Guinea 20 Kina Banknote

We are pleased to announce that we have a new banknote available: the Papua New Guinea 20 kina, P-36.

Printed by de la Rue, these colorful notes measure 140×70 mm and feature a boar’s head image on the back.

For wholesale inquires, please click here.

Papua New Guinea 20 kina banknote, P-36

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The Coins of Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was a Roman governor, or prefect, from 26 to 36 C.E. He issued a small number of bronze prutah coins during a three year period. He is most famous for presiding at the trial of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and sentencing him to die by crucifixion, an event that was destined to fundamentally alter the course of human history. To this day, 2000 years later, the ongoing significance of that event cannot be overstated. While we are certain about his coins, other aspects of Pontius Pilate’s legacy are less well known.

For most of two millennia historians and theologians have debated the facts of Pontius Pilate’s actions, words, motivations and sentiments during his tenure as governor, especially the exact extent of Pilate’s role and his level of responsibility for Jesus’ condemnation. Were Pilate’s actions a result of coercion, legal requirements, or was he a malicious and willing participant in the persecution of Jesus? The countless historical written accounts portray Pilate from conflicting points of view. Certainly Pilate had the authority as Prefect to do with Jesus as he wished. Continue reading

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Crusaders vs. Christians: God, Money, & the Sack of Constantinople

In 1204, the storied city of Constantinople fell — not to the Muslims, as was long feared, but to Christians during the ill-fated Fourth Crusade.

Coins like these are what financed the Fourth Crusade—and what the Crusaders plundered from the great city now known as Istanbul. The irony of the sack of Constantinople is how indebted the Venetian culture was to the Byzantine. Note the remarkable similarity between the 12th-century Byzantine aspron trachy and the 13th-century Venetian grosso. Continue reading

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