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In the 16th to 18th century, a great interest in ancient coins occurred, especially among the educated and aristocratic families of Europe, and many of these false shekels were palmed off as authentic, ancient coins. In the 19* to 29* century a substantial amount of documentation was pub- lished. to warn coin collectors about these false shekels still being offered in the marketplace. In the book, Geschichte der Judische Munzen by M. A. Levy, published in 1862, the author described the censer pieces and stated that they were the commonest of all the forgeries of Jewish coins. In 1895, the archaeologist. Sir John Evans, in an article in the Numismatic Chronicle, Vol XX, called attention to a false shekel being sold as a genuine coin in London. Finally, in 1920, the English numismatist, George F. Hill, published a paper titled, 'False Shekels', in which he mentioned all the above literary sources and explained the history and deceptiveness of these tokens -- 5

In the 19th century, Western Europe, especially England, experienced a phenomenal revival in religious beliefs and Bible studies. Scientific discoveries and Darwin's theories about the evolution of man led to intense scholarly criticism of the Holy Writ and many religious sects, as well as the public in general, responded with a renewed interest in the events described in the Bible and the archaeological discoveries that could prove them to be true. The English became heavily involved in this spiritual renewal after Admiral Sydney Smith defeated Napoleon at Acre in 1799 and brought the ancient Holy Land into the British political sphere of influence. At that same time, English social organizations, such as the Palestine Association, were established (1804) to find ways of converting Jews to Christianity by emphasizing the commonality of the roots and credos of the two religions. To reinforce this philosophy, these religious organizations encouraged pilgrimages to the Holy Land and promoted the exploration and excavation of biblical sites. The Palestine Exploration Fund, founded in 1865, sponsored several archaeological excavations ostensibly to discover the history of the ancient Jews but also to prove the accuracy of the Bible. Many of these societies truly wished to make amends for the European persecution of the Jews but believed that the only way to do this was to make Jews into their Christian brethren. A typical organization with this objective was the 'London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews' founded in 1809. In 1910, they published a book titled 'Walks About Jerusalem', written by the Reverend J. E. Hanauer, as part. of their endorsement of religious pilgrimages to Palestine. The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the patron of the society, stated in a preface to the book that this work was - "an act of repentance before God for the treatment of the Jews in this country in the past and in some parts of Europe - even to the present day". Underlying this genuine concern about the past ill treatment of the Jews was the popularly accepted prophecy that the second coming of Jesus could only occur when the Jews embraced Christianity. All during the 19th century, this intense religious fervor encouraged many people from England to embark on voyages to the ancient Holy land and they adopted as their badges or insignia the false shekels or censer pieces available in the shops that sold pilgrimage equipment and religious articles.

By 1840, many of the large medal and coin companies located in London England cast or struck these censer pieces and offered them to the public as religious pilgrims tokens or as true reproductions of the genuine shekel coin or of the biblical 'thirty pieces of silver'. Some of these tokens were fine examples of medallic art and the authors even included their names in the designs. A remarkable example, struck after 1880 carries the name SPENCER . LONDON under the chalice on the obverse. In correspondence with Mr. James B. Duncan of Auckland New Zealand, who owns an example of this token, it was suggested that Spencer, may have been associated with the London firm, Toye, Kenning and Spencer, Masonic jewelers and providers of Masonic ritual implements. It had been reported by Dr. Bruno Kisch that American Masonic lodges sometimes used false shekel tokens in their proceedings, but none of these are actually of the censer piece design.6 The London token may therefore have been a medallion used by an English Masonic chapter in their sacred rites.

A London produced censer piece, probably made after 1890, signed SPENCER . LONDON on the obverse under the Chalice. It is struck in white brass, weighs 13 grams and is 35 millimeters in diameter. It may have been used in Masonic rituals. Lapa, no. II.

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