Genuine Widow’s Mites of the Bible from Mark 12: 41-44
Just in time for Christmas gift buying! The perfect gift for that special, hard-to-buy-for friend: genuine 2000+ year old ancient Jewish bronze coins known in the King James version of the Bible as a "mite" (a tiny bronze coin). They were known as leptons (in Greek) or prutahs (in Hebrew). Jesus used this coin type as an illustration of sacrificial giving in the gospel of Mark.
The coins are heavily worn yet most will have some level of detail remaining. They are genuine coins of the lowest value that circulated at the time of Jesus and would have been used in daily transactions in Jerusalem and throughout Judaea (ancient Israel).
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 NIV
The coin referred to in this passage is today known as the "widow's mite." It was the smallest denomination bronze coin of the time and was minted by Alexander Jannaeus beginning in the year 103 BC. These coins were of very low value and were used only in the poor province of Judaea. In the days of Jesus it took 48 of these "mites" just to buy a loaf of bread and the standardized value was equal to 1/384 of a Greek silver drachm. They were mass-produced by casting flans in strips and then carelessly striking the crude flans with even cruder dies. Little attention was paid to their quality and most are far off center and/or flatly struck and most heavily worn from over a century of use.
Most of these coins have been found in and around modern day Israel and each coin is unique and some still have dirt from the Holy land adhering to the surfaces. The obverse features a star of eight rays and the reverse an anchor. Portions of the Greek legends may also be visible. The attribution for these is numbers 1150-1154 in David Hendin's standard volume on Biblical coins, 5th revised edition.