When it comes to holding history in your hand, nothing compares to ancient coins. Kings, tyrants, and military rulers memorialized themselves and their exploits on coins. The currency also served as a public relations or propaganda tool.
I got hooked on old coins after my son gave one of Emperor Constantine for my birthday. He found it at a London flea market. Even though the coin was very worn, Constantine’s profile was still visible. I marveled at all the stories that coin held: from the man who struck it, and all the places it had traveled over the centuries, passing from one hand to another to end in mine.
The best-of-the-best ancient coins have just been chronicled in the book 100 Greatest Ancient Coins by noted numismatist Harlan Berk. The 130-page book is filled with color photos and stories surrounding the coins.
The coin on the cover of Berk’s book is a silver denarius issued in 42 B.C. On the front is a portrait of Brutus, one of the assassins of Julius Caesar. On the reverse side is a helmet bordered by two daggers above the words “Eid-Mar.”
After he assumed power, Brutus had the coin struck to show he had brought liberty to his country via the death of Julius Caesar. “Eid-Mar” refers to the “Ides of March” when the assassination took place.
The coin was minted to pay Brutus’ soldiers in the civil war that followed Caesar’s death. It was probably made by military mint traveling with his army in Greece.
60 of these silver coins may still be in existence. Have your heart set on possessing one? It will probably set you back $120,000.