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A previously unrecorded example of an ancient “Ides of March” gold coin commemorating the assassination of Roman dictator Julius Caesar in 44 BC has been confirmed by rare coin authenticators in the United States and the United Kingdom. Only three are known to exist.
One expert described the nickel-sized rarity as “a masterpiece of ancient coinage” and estimated that it could be worth millions.
“It was made in 42 BC, two years after the famous assassination, and is one of the most important and valuable coins of the ancient world,” explained Mark Salzberg, Chairman of the Sarasota, FL-based Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the company whose experts confirmed the coin's authenticity.
The front of the coin features a portrait of Marcus Junius Brutus, one of Caesar’s assassins, and the other side dramatically depicts two daggers and the marking "EID • MAR." The initials represent the Latin abbreviation for the Ides of March, which corresponds to March 15 on the calendar and is the date Caesar was assassinated.
While nearly 100 Ides of March silver coins are known to still exist, this is only the third example known to be struck in gold. Of the other two, one is in the British Museum on loan from a private collector and the other is in the Deutsche Bundesbank collection.
“There were rumors of a third example, and NGC authenticators were excited when this coin was submitted at our London office and sent for evaluation at our headquarters in Sarasota,” said Salzberg.
The EID • MAR gold coin will be offered at public auction by Roma Numismatics Limited of London on October 29, 2020. According to the auction house, this previously unrecorded coin was closely held in a private European collection for many years.
"The conservative pre-auction estimate is £500,000 ($647,173), but considering the coin’s rarity, artistry and fabled place in history, I would not be surprised if it sold for several million,” predicted Salzberg.
Adding to its appeal, the coin is still in mint condition, according to NGC’s experts, despite its being more than 2,000 years old.
Between the two daggers on the back of the coin is a "pileus" — a cap of liberty traditionally given to Roman slaves when they were freed. The cap’s image was a symbolic statement that Rome was liberated after the assassination of the tyrant dictator.
“It’s a small gold coin with huge historical and collector value," added Salzberg. "It is the undisputed masterpiece of ancient coinage.”
Credits: Images courtesy of Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.