It’s the rare person who hasn’t heard the name “Julius Caesar.” With “Et tu, Brute?” and “Beware the Ides of March” so firmly established in the lexicon, it’s almost as rare to find someone who doesn’t know who assassinated Caesar (Brutus, along with Cassius and other senators) or the date on which it occurred (March 15). To make sure that didn’t happen, Marcus Junius Brutus – the old friend Caesar was most surprised to see at the assassination – did something that would surprise no one in modern times … he issued a commemorative coin in his own honor. Amazingly enough, two of those coins from 42 BCE are in collections and now a third one has emerged and is up for auction. Can you afford it?
“The simple but bold reverse design employed by Brutus for this aureus contains the three principal elements of this ‘patriotic’ act of regicide committed to liberate the Republic from monarchical tyranny. Most striking are the two daggers of differing design, the one symbolising that wielded by Brutus himself, the other that of Cassius his co-consipirator. These flank the pileus, the cap of Liberty as worn by the divine twins and patrons of Roman armies Castor and Pollux, and which was conferred upon all freed slaves as a mark of their emancipation. The legend EID MAR is the abbreviation of EIDIBVS MARTIIS – the Ides of March. Thus, in an act of unparalleled braggadocio, we are at once presented with the murder weapons used to slay Caesar, the precise date of the deed, and the motive.”
The description of the EID MAR coin (you can view it here) on the Roma Numismatics Limited auction site describes how it neatly summarizes the date, one of the perpetrators, the motive and the result. The inscription around the head of Brutus – “BRVT IMP L PLAET CEST” – means “Brutus, Imperator, Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus” and gives notice to Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus, the man in charge of the mint that produced the coin. The coin is a denarius, which had value at one time (10 assēs, a small copper coin), but eventually was minted in very small quantities and only for ceremonial purposes. While there are at least 88 known silver EID MAR coins, up until now only two gold ones have been found — one is on long-term loan to the British Museum, the other is in the Deutsche Bundesbank collection. This one has been kept quietly in a collection belonging to the collection of Baron Dominique de Chambrier, which eventually ended up at the ‘Antiquarium of Bern’ in Switzerland.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s all very interesting — but how much can we get it for?
“The conservative pre-auction estimate is £500,000 ($647,173, €548,511), but considering the coin’s rarity, artistry, and fabled place in history I would not be surprised if it sold for several million.”
Do you have that in your checking account or do you need to dip into your retirement funds? It’s expected that a museum or collector will win the expected bidding war.
If you’re still at home riding out the pandemic, now would be a good time to check through the coins in your piggy bank.
Photo Release Statement:
This will confirm that I am an authorized agent on behalf of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the copyright holder on the image of the 42 B.C. gold EID MAR (“Ides of March”) assassination coin certified genuine by NGC. I also acknowledge that as the owner’s authorized agent I am furnishing the image to you for editorial publication in all media now known or hereafter created. The image is a factually accurate rendering of what it depicts and has not been modified or augmented except for standard cropping and/or toning.
Donn Pearlman & Associates Public Relations
Las Vegas, NV