The ancient coin that topped $300K at auction
- Published: Oct 24, 2016, 7 AM
The market for premium ancient Greek and Roman coins continues to thrive, based on recent auction results in sales in Europe.
Recent offerings of major collections, as well as scattered highlights of iconic coins, provide proof that the top end of the market is, for the most part, cruising right along. Some weakness is evident when material isn’t superb quality, but top items bring top prices.
A handful of lots sold at auction in late September to mid-October reveal market dynamics for these popular areas of coin collecting.
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Perhaps no coin of antiquity is as familiar, or as important, as the ‘Eid Mar’ denarius of Brutus: its dagger-flanked liberty cap and explicit inscription are a simple and direct monument to one of the great events in western history, the assassination of Julius Caesar on the “Ides of March.”
An example of this famous, coveted rarity realized a hammer price of 325,000 Swiss francs ($332,583 U.S.) during Numismatica Ars Classica’s Oct. 6 auction of part III of the Michael Gasvoda Collection of Roman coins.
The coin grades Good EF, according to the auction house. It was struck circa 43 or 42 B.C., not long after the 44 B.C. murder of the ruler.
The reverse testifies to the murder by naming the date of the event, by showing daggers as the instruments of delivery, and by displaying the pileus, or freedman’s cap, which symbolizes the professed goal of the assassins’ work.
Though dozens of men were involved in the plot against Caesar, all are represented on the reverse by only two daggers — a clear allusion to Brutus and Cassius as leaders of the coup and, subsequently, of the armed opposition to Antony and Octavian.
Keep reading about recently sold ancient rarities:
Ancient coin’s six-figure price rooted in its standard-bearing design: Ancient Greek coins, in many ways, the standard bearers for classical beauty in coin design. Among the well known and respected practitioners of this art is the sculptor known to us today as Kimon.
How much would you pay for this gold aureus from A.D. 71? (Tip: It would need to be a lot): The design is more readily available as a silver denarius, but less so in gold on the aureus.
Why this 460 B.C. silver tetradrachm brought a whopping $613,999: The coin is "Very rare and among the finest specimens known of this prestigious and fascinating issue."
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