Ides of March Denarius Coin Sets Record at Heritage Long Beach Auction

. September 27, 2011 . 0 Comments

A famous “Ides of March” silver denarius of Marcus Brutus fetched a record-shattering $546,250 on Sept. 7 at Heritage Auctions’ World & Ancient Coins event, part of Heritage’s $34 million total Long Beach Numismatic Auctions, at the Long Beach Convention Center. The price realized, which includes the 15% Buyer’s Fee, is the most ever paid at auction for a Roman silver coin.


Marcus Junius Brutus, Assassin of Caesar and Imperator (44-42 BC). AR denarius (3.72 gm).

The Sept. 7 session of Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins was part of a four-day series of auctions at Heritage, featuring the Rubicon Collection of Roman coins and the Norman Jacobs Collection of Asian coins, which brought a total of $20.5 million together, setting a world record for a multi-consignor auction featuring World and Ancient coins.

“It was a privilege to be part of this historic auction series,” said Cristiano Bierrenbach, Heritage’s Executive Vice President of International Numismatics. “The beauty and quality of these collections set new standards for World coins offered at auction, and to see it reflected in the results is very gratifying.”

“Only rarely does any numismatist get to handle a coin as important as the Rubicon Eid Mar denarius,” said David S. Michaels, Director of Ancient Coins for Heritage.

The coin, a dime-sized silver piece, features a portrait of Marcus Junius Brutus, the lead assassin of Julius Caesar, on one side and a liberty cap flanked by two daggers along with the legend EID MAR (for March 15, 44 BC, the date Caesar was assassinated) on the reverse.

“This coin was already legendary when it came to us, having resided in the collections of statesman Hall Park McCollough, movie producer Sy Weintraub, industrialist Nelson Bunker Hunt, and actor-turned-professor Peter Weller,” said Michaels. “It’s the coin depicted in many important publications on ancient coins, including David R. Sear’s Roman Coins and Their Values. We knew as soon as we received this coin for auction that it would draw intense interest, although we had no idea it would end up in a major feature in the Wall Street Journal.”

Estimated at $450,000-550,000, the Eid Mar received several pre-auction bids before proceeding to the floor, where it opened at $375,000. A combination of floor and phone bids took it to $450,00 before it finally was hammered down at $475,000 to a “book” bid entered just before the session started by a well-established dealer acting as agent for a client.

The Eid Mar denarius was part of a 26-coin offering of Roman coins dubbed The Rubicon Collection, most of which featured famous Romans of the Imperatorial era. Other amazing prices fetched by Rubicon coins included:

*$57,500 for a beautifully toned and pedigreed portrait denarius of Julius Caesar struck in 44 BC.

*$63,250 for a rare silver denarius of Gnaeus Pompey Jr., son of the Roman general Pompey the Great, featuring a portrait of his father (lot 23263).

*$32,200 for a rare denarius of Cassius Longinus, the partner of Brutus.

*$80,500 for a gold aureus of Marc Antony and Octavian struck circa 41 BC.

*$27,600 for a silver denarius of Marc Antony and Cleopatra featuring an outstanding portrait of the famous Egyptian Queen.

Including lots offered in the internet Final Session on Sept. 12, the Ancients offering totaled 965 lots and brought a total of $1.8 million. Other notable prices included:

*$74,750 for a “striated” electrum stater of Ionia, circa 670-660 BC, a type now recognized as the first true coin ever struck.

*$25,300 for an electrum half-stater of the same type and era.

*$23,000 for a gold stater of Asander, king of the Bosporan Kingdom circa 42-1 BC.

“The market for quality ancient Greek and Roman coins has never been better,” said Michaels. “Many of these coins sold for multiples of what the same pieces sold for less than a decade ago. The demand for truly singular ancient coins is simply going off the charts.”

“These results prove Heritage has truly placed itself in the forefront of Ancient numismatics,” said Bierrenbach. “We have sold more than $6.3 million worth of Ancients at auction this year, part of Heritage’s total sales of almost $40 million in World and Ancient coins this year.”

Category: Antiques

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