Harlan J. Berk Ltd.
Buy or Bid Sale 220  4 Aug 2022
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Lot 236

Estimate: 115 000 USD
Price realized: 65 000 USD
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Brutus EID MAR Denarius in Necklace with 12 Other Coins. ; Brutus EID MAR Denarius in Necklace with 12 Other Coins; Surely the best known, most iconic Roman coin, renowned even in antiquity and described by the Severan historian Cassius Dio, is the EID MAR denarius struck by Brutus in 42 BC. The obverse features the bare head of Brutus himself, the reverse displays two of the daggers used in the assassination of Julius Caesar on March 15, the Ides of March, in 44 BC. The daggers displayed differ from each other; it's been suggested that they are intended as depictions, not of "generic" daggers, but of the actual daggers used by Brutus and his co-conspirator Cassius. The full description of this coin is:

Denarius, Mint moving with Brutus in Northern Greece, 43-42 BC. Obv: BRVT IMP L PLAET CEST Head of Brutus r.
Rx: EID MAR Liberty cap and two daggers
Crawford-508/3; Sydenham-1301 (R-9); Sear Imperators-216; Cahn, EIDibus MARtiis, Q. Tic. 18, 1989, 10b and pl. 2, 108

Over the years, HJB has handled more than our share of these famous coins, including one of three known examples in gold. It's fair to say that none can boast the unusual and dramatic story of the present coin. In the mid-nineteenth century, a vacationing British family found a group of thirteen coins on the beach at Joppa in then-Palestine. Eleven were of Republican/Imperatorial age; the remaining two were Imperial denarii of Domitian and Septimius Severus. Further details of the circumstances of the coins' finding are not available, but the date range of some 300 years precludes their being part of a single hoard. All the coins exhibit signs of long immersion in salt water, consistent with their reported find spot. The finders proceeded to silver plate and pierce their new treasures and string them into a wearable necklace. Decades passed and the coins remained in the possession of the descendants of the original finders; perhaps occasionally worn or displayed, perhaps languishing half-forgotten in a drawer. Certainly, they weren't understood to be "special" or valuable, until in 1948, the great-great-granddaughter of the finder was intrigued enough to bring them to the City Museum in Leeds, England for evaluation. The director of the museum, D. E. Owen, in turn consulted a certain Mr. Wade, the lecturer in Romano-British Archaeology at the Leeds University, who finally correctly identified the coins. Wade in fact offered to purchase the Brutus denarius (whether for his own collection or that of the university is unclear), if the owner was willing to break up the necklace. She declined the offer.

Seven years later, in 1955, the coins were again brought to the attention of experts, this time to Michael Grant in Edinburgh, who was the President of London\'s Royal Numismatic Society. Grant reiterated that the coins were authentic, dryly adding that "it is extremely unfortunate that the coins have been pierced." Grant also noticed another scarce and desirable coin on the chain, an Imperatorial denarius of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, Crawford 460/4, struck in Utica in 47-46 BC in the course of Caesar's struggle against the Pompeian remnants in Africa. He referred the owner to E. A. Sydenham's then newly-published catalogue for details.

In 1982, the coins were published in Spink\'s Numismatic Circular XC, November 1982, p. 306, in a brief note titled "Roman Coins Found at Joppa," but not until the present year, 2022, were they first made available for sale.

The complete list of coins is:
1. T. Cloelius, quinarius, 98 BC, Cr-332/1c
2. Uncertain Victoriatus or quinarius
3. Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, denarius, 47-46 BC, Cr-460/4
4. Q. Sicinius and C. Coponius, denarius, 49 BC, Cr-444/1a
5. Septimius Severus, denarius, 202-210 AD
6. P. Clodius Turrinus, 42 BC, Cr-494/23
7. Cn. Lentulus, denarius, 76-75 BC, Cr-393/1a
8. L. Marcius Philippus, denarius, 57 BC, Cr-425/1
9. Domitian, denarius, 81-83 BC, RIC 41
10. Brutus, denarius, 42 BC, Cr-508/3
11. M. Herennius, denarius, 108-107 BC, Cr-308/1
12. Mark Antony, denarius, 32-31 BC, Cr-544/
13. Cn. Lentulus, quinarius, 88 BC, Cr-345/2

The present lot includes the Brutus EID MAR denarius and the 12 other coins as joined into a necklace by the original finders, plus copies of the 1948 letter from the Leeds Museum, the 1955 letter from the Royal Numismatic Society, and the 1982 Numismatic Circular article. The Brutus coin was pierced three times, but happily the only part of the design that was damaged is the upper left corner of the E, everything else is complete. With EID MAR coins of Brutus in silver going as high as $600,000, this represents an opportunity to own an unquestionably authentic example of this important historical coin at a much lower price.
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