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Rare Coin Celebrating Caesar’s Assassination Might Fetch £5 Million

Rare Coin Celebrating Caesar’s Assassination Might Fetch £5 Million


Minted as a “naked and shameless” celebration of Julius Caesar's murder by a blade-wielding team of conspiratorial Roman senators in 42 BC, this solid gold ‘assassination coin’ is one of only three of its type. When it is auctioned off on October 29 it’s expected to fetch a staggering £5 million (about $6.5 million).

The rare Roman coin is over 2,000-years-old, and Barry Murphy of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), an international coin certification service based in Sarasota, Florida, says the coin is the “holy grail” for ancient coin collectors.

Two daggers and the words “EID MAR” depicted on the rare assassination coin of Julius Caesar. (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation)

Two daggers and the words “EID MAR” depicted on the rare assassination coin of Julius Caesar. ( Numismatic Guaranty Corporation )

An Assassination Story Worth £5 million

The super-valuable, mint-condition, ancient gold coin had been kept in a private collection in Europe until now. It is destined to be auctioned by London-based Roma Numismatics , dealers and auctioneers of fine and rare ancient coins, on October 29, 2020. The Daily Mail explains that a conservative pre-sale estimate has been given to the treasure of £500,000, but coin experts are telling the media that they expect it to reach “£3–5 million, breaking all previous records.”

So what is it that makes one Roman coin worth its weight in gold, and the next one worth 100,000 times its weight in gold? The answer to this question is maybe not what you would expect, for essentially, the reason this rare artifact has been so highly valued is because of its “story.” And here is the story that is apparently worth £5 million.

23 Punctures Deflated the Roman Republic

The Roman Republic was founded in 480 BC and developed into a polity in which equality and democracy were the most esteemed values. During the Republic, the Senate governed the state, which was ruled over by leading members of the wealthiest families.

Julius Caesar was famously stabbed 23 times in a political assassination in Rome, Italy, by between 40-60 conspiratorial Roman senators on the “ Ides of March ” (March 15) 44 BC. Although Caesar had enemies in upper class circles, he was, however, very popular with the Roman lower and middle classes.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar. (Public Domain)

The Assassination of Julius Caesar. ( Public Domain )

As soon as the people of Rome got wind of Caesar’s death, riots broke out, which set in motion a long series of civil wars that ultimately brought about the death of the Roman Republic, and the birth of the Roman Empire .

The Extreme Value of the ‘Assassination Coin’

Speaking with Fox News , Mark Salzberg, chairman of the NGC, says this coin is “one of the most important and valuable coins of the ancient world.” Minted in 42 BC, two years after the historic assassination, the front of the coin is a portrait of Marcus Junius Brutus , Caesar’s chief assassin, and the flip side, sinisterly depicts two daggers and the words “ EID MAR ,” a Latin abbreviation for “Ides of March.”

The front of the coin is a portrait of Marcus Junius Brutus, Caesar’s chief assassin. (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation)

The front of the coin is a portrait of Marcus Junius Brutus, Caesar’s chief assassin. ( Numismatic Guaranty Corporation )

That is the dark date in Roman history when, under the mass of wounds, Caesar stumped and fell at the foot of Pompey's famous statue. And further celebrating the slaughter of Caesar, the so-called ‘assassination coin’ also features a “cap of liberty,” signifying the motivations behind the murder , Mr. Salzberg said.

The coin falls into a category of around 100 coins featuring the “Ides of March.” But 97 of these are cast in silver, with only two others known to have been forged in gold. One is on display in the British Museum and the other is held in the collection of the  Deutsche Bundesbank , the central bank of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Fall 2020: Season of the Rare Gold Coins

This exceptionally rare gold coin is expected to become the most expensive Roman gold coin to have ever been sold at auction, but it has some way to go to rival the show-stopper that surfaced only back in September, and featured in a Smithsonian Magazine article. Dated to 1794, the “Flowing Hair dollar" was one of the first coins ever minted by the newly created U.S. Mint. It is a rare example set to be sold at auction in Las Vegas and is expected to fetch “upward of $10 million,” double the value of the ‘assassination coin’ - making it the undisputed most valuable coin in the world.

Top Image: The rare ‘assassination coin’ celebrates Caesar’s murder. Source: Numismatic Guaranty Corporation

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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