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    Description

    First Caesar Portrait

    Julius Caesar, as Dictator (49-44 BC). AR denarius (19mm, 3.80 gm, 9h). NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 2/5, graffiti. Rome, January 44 BC, M. Mettius, moneyer. CAESAR • DICT QVART, head of Caesar right, wearing oak wreath, lituus left  / Juno Sospita, wearing goat skin headdress, in galloping biga right, brandishing spear held in right hand, shield on left arm, M METTIVS in exergue. Crawford 480/2a. CRI 98. RSC 36. Very rare-- the first portrait issue of Caesar! Dark gray-blue iridescent toning, scratches on face and neck (ancient damnatio?), light graffiti on outer rim.

    Ex Stack's (New York, November 1946), lot 353.

    For two centuries, Rome had spurned the Hellenistic practice of placing the ruler's portrait on the coinage of the realm, much as they rejected the concept of kingship altogether. So in January of 44 BC, many Romans must have been stunned to see the image of Julius Caesar, recently appointed dictator for an unprecedented fourth time, on circulating silver denarii. Like a profusion of other honors and titles, the right to place his image on coins had been bestowed on Caesar by the Roman Senate. Caesar's enemies may have had an ulterior motive in approving the honor, as it almost certainly would fuel the growing suspicion that Caesar intended to name himself king of Rome. If this was the intent, it succeeded, for within three months a conspiracy had been formed and Caesar was duly assassinated at a meeting of the Senate on March 15, 44 BC. This silver denarius of M. Mettius is the elusive first portrait issue of Caesar, struck by the moneyer Marcus Mettius, an early supporter of Caesar's who had carried out important military and diplomatic duties during the Gallic and Civil wars.  The obverse legend acclaims Caesar as Dictator for the fourth time (QVART); in February Caesar was acclaimed as Dictator in Perpetuity, so this type was issued for less than a single month, accounting for its extreme rarity today. Although the regime was popular with the lower classes, it had many detractors; the scratches on the face and neck of this denarius look deliberate and may be a form of "damnatio" by one of Caesar's critics.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    8th-9th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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