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Perry Mason Television Episode Imitation Judean Prop Coin

WillieBoyd2WillieBoyd2 Posts: 5,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited November 5, 2023 9:39AM in World & Ancient Coins Forum

I recently watched an episode of the old "Perry Mason" television program and saw an unusual coin.

The episode is "The Case of the Unwelcome Well" from 1966.

The program had a sub-plot where a prince from the fictional Arabian country of "Jodhpur" comes to Los Angeles to sell the country's oil rights to the president of an American oil company.

The prince "passes the coin", supposedly an old custom of exchanging coins to seal a deal.

Later at a court hearing attorney Perry Mason holds the coin, a "gold dinar from Jodhpur", and manipulates it to show both sides.


I saw that the coin was an imitation of a Judean coin and am asking if my analysis of the coin is correct.

The prop coin used in the program is a fantasy coin copied from two ancient Judean coins minted during the Roman occupation of Judea (BCE 63 to CE 132).

There were two Jewish revolts against Romans, the first in CE 66 to 70, and the second in CE 132 to 135. The second revolt is known as the Bar Kokhba Revolt after it's leader.

One side of the coin has a chalice and the other side has a lulav (a palm tree frond or leaf). The coin inscriptions use Paleo-Hebrew writing, an old form of Hebrew.

The chalice side is copied from a Judean First Revolt (CE 66-70) coin and has a chalice surrounded by an inscription which reads "Half of a shekel". Above the chalice is "Year 1" (CE 66/67).

The lulav side is copied from a Judean Bar Kokhba Revolt (CE 132-135) coin and has a lulav surrounded by an inscription which reads "Year 2 of the Freedom of Israel" (Year 2 is CE 133/134).

Shekels are mentioned in the Bible and various copies of them have been made over the years by entrepreneurs for collectors and church groups for members.


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  • SapyxSapyx Posts: 1,967 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I would concur with your analysis: a modern copy of a "mule" of two ancient Judaean silver coins.

    "Jodhpur" was formerly the name of an actual country, an Indian state which had ceased to exist by 1966. Though it was nowhere near Arabia, the language on coins of Jodhpur was Arabic. So using an actual Jodhpur gold coin might have been more authentic (and perhaps less offensive to either Jews or Arabs) than using a copy of an ancient Jewish coin.

    As for the coin in the movie, I suspect they went down to a local Masonic jeweller or Christian bookstore and bought one of their "false shekels". Which would have been silvery in colour, not gold. So I guess it's fortunate that Perry Mason was still recorded as black-and-white TV in 1966 - they saved on needing gold paint.

    Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

    Apparently I have been awarded one DPOTD. B)
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