Coins From The Holy Land: 10 Prutah (Israel, 5709/1949)-Article

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

This early Israeli coin represents the 3rd denomination coin of the Israeli Pound (1949). Shortly after the Israel's victory, during the War of Independence (1948 Arab-Israeli War). The British-issued Palestinian Pound was replaced by the Israeli Pound. Which was also produced with British assistance.


A single Prutah was valued 1/1000th of an Israeli Pound. In 1960, the Prutah was replaced by the Israeli Agora. A single Agora was 1/100th of an Israeli Pound or 10 Prutah. The Agora as a monetary unit continues to remain in use in Israel. Even after the Israeli Pound's replacement, by the Israeli Shekel (1980) and Israeli New Shekel (1985).


Observe

The observe is simple and based on an excavated coin, dating from the Bar-Kochba Revolt (132-135 AD). Keeping in line with the Jewish taboo, against graven images. The observe does not feature typical coinage imagines, such a person or animal. But an ornate Roman-style amphora, at it's center.


These particular "wide-mouth" amphora, were used for serving drinks to guests. Rather than, the more common "mouth-less" variants. Used to transport goods throughout the Mediterranean Sea. This general focus on historical trade goods, set the theme for most modern Israeli coins. The notable exception being coins baring the Lion of Judah.


Directly above the amphora is Hebrew text, it reads "ישראל" (Israel). The Arabic text (اسرائيل) below the amphora, also translates to Israel. Both side's of the coin feature a raised rim, lined with small ridges along the interior.


Reverse

The reverse's center feature a large "10" with Hebrew text (פרוטה) below. Signifying the coin's "10 Prutot" value. The term "Prutot" is the Hebrew plural version of "Prutah". Further below the date is given as (5709) תש׳ט or 1949.


As a small embellishment, the reverse's text is wreathed by a stylized pair of olive branches. Just as in Greek and Roman culture, olive branches symbolize peace. Between the two olive branches is an oval joint. Directly below it is a small "pearl", marking the coin as minted by the Imperial Chemical Industries (Britain).


These coins are slightly rarer and valuable, than coins minted Heaton (Birmingham). Coins created at the Heaton Mint, can be identified by their lack of "peal". Roughly 7.5 Million coins were produced by each mint, respectably.


Size Comparison

A 10 Prutah with a US Quarter for comparison.

Additional Notes

  • Despite being known as the Israeli Pound, its original Hebrew name is "Lira Yisr'elit" (Israeli Lira). Although its Arabic name does roughly translate to Israeli Pound.

  • The original Prutah coin was a low value coin, issued during the times of the of the ancient Hasmonean (140-37 BCE) and Herodian (47 BCE-100 AD) dynasties.

  • In ancient times, 10 Prutot was the value of a loaf of bread. And was divisible into 2 lepta (singular lepta), a coin adopted from nonboring Greece.

  • Prutah coins were also issued by the Roman Procurators of Judea, from 6 BCE-66 AD.

  • Members of the Jewish insurrection, during the First Jewish Revolt (66-77 AD), also minted their own Prutah coins.

  • Coins minted during the Jewish revolt are often called "Masada coins" and are highly valuable.

  • Masada coins are named after the famous Jewish fortress, at Masada.

  • During the Battle of Masada, the Jewish Sicarii made their last stand. Against the 10th Roman Legion "Fretensis".

  • The Hebrew calendar expresses years alphanumerically, where numbers are expressed by letters within the Hebrew alphabet.

  • Israeli currency uses Standard Numerals, when expressing a coin's or note's value. Mostly due to Western influence in modern Israeli culture.

  • The relatively newer versions of the 10 Prutah, were made with cheaper materials. Such as variants made of copper-coated aluminum (meant to emulate the appearance of bronze) and plain aluminum, with no coating material.

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