World Coins

Rare gold Eid Mar aureus offered in Numismatica Ars Classica sale

One of three examples known of the gold Eid Mar aureus, the one formerly on display at the British Museum, is in a May 31 auction.

Images courtesy of Numismatica Ars Classica.

A gold example of one of the most famous ancient coins of all time is coming to auction.

The Eid Mar gold aureus, like its silver sibling of the same design, is one of just three legitimate examples known. This example is pierced and, of the three known examples, is the only one with a documented provenance dating to before World War II.

The coin is offered May 31 by Numismatica Ars Classica in the firm’s 132nd auction, this one being held in Zurich.

Every collector of ancient coins knows that the Eid Mar silver denarius struck by M. Junius Brutus to celebrate the Ides of March assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. “is the king (or rather, king-slayer) of Roman Republican coins,” according to the auction house. “Due to the history that drips from them like the blood of the murdered dictator, such coins are highly sought after and invite great competition by collectors. This gold EID MAR aureus, however, is on another level entirely.”

This gold coin was on display at the British Museum in London from 2010 to 2021.

The May auction’s EID MAR aureus example has been known since at least 1932, when it was offered to the British Museum by Oscar Ravel, but the deleterious economic effects of the Great Depression and the recent end of the gold standard in Great Britain prevented its purchase by the museum at that time.

This is well documented by a cast of the coin conserved at the museum (the only Eid Mar aureus in the British Museum collection, donated by King George IV in 1825, is actually a forgery).

Like the Eid Mar silver denarius, the matching gold aureus is believed to have been struck by a mobile military mint travelling with Brutus and his army as he marched from Asia Minor into Macedonia in the autumn and early summer of 42 B.C.

The coin is expertly pierced just above the head of Brutus, and the British Museum has speculated that the coin was likely to have been worn by a high-ranking supporter, if not one of Caesar’s murderers themselves, although such a provenance naturally cannot be proven.

The coin has an estimate of 750,000 Swiss francs ($755,000 U.S.) but, despite its piercing, the rarity may propel it much further.

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