Saturday, 4 June 2022

"Ides of March" Coins

Brutus issued a silver denarius celebrating the assassination of Caesar on the Ides of March (March 15). The denarius has a portrait of Brutus on the obverse, with on the reverse a liberty cap flanked by two daggers over the inscription EID(ibus) MAR(tiis). The liberty cap was the garment given to a manumitted slave to indicate his free status, so the reverse side symbolizes Brutus and Cassius liberating Rome with their daggers. There are about 60 known copies of the silver denarius. A superb example made $332k in a 2016 auction. Silver specimens in extremely fine condition have sold at auction for $120k. Low grade silver examples come on the market for around $50k.
An ‘Ides of March’ aureus is one of three known examples. It was recently discovered hidden away in a private European collection. The coin is in mint condition and has been described as “the undisputed masterpiece of ancient coinage.” It made $3.5m.
The famous Eid Mar from the British Museum made $2.2m in May 2022.

In October of 42 B.C., months after the coins were struck, Brutus and Cassius were routed by Marc Anthony and Octavian’s forces and died in the Battles of Philippi. Their coins were outlawed and few survived.