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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > Carausius > Imperatorial (49-27 BCE)

Crawford 507/2, ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Brutus with Casca Longus, Plated (Fourree) Denarius
Rome, The Imperators.
Brutus with Casca Longus. 42 BCE.
Plated (fourree) Denarius (2.53g; 20mm).
Military mint, 42 BCE.

Obverse: CASCA LONGVS; Neptune's head facing right; trident below.

Reverse: BRVTVS IMP; Victory advancing right on broken scepter, holding filleted diadem and palm.

References: Crawford 507/2; HCRI 212; Sydenham1298 (R6); BMCRR (East) 63; Junia 44; Servilia 35; Smyth XIV/28 (this coin described).

Provenance: Naville Auction 62 (13 Dec 2020) Lot 393; Duke of Northumberland Collection [Sotheby's (1982) Lot 482]; acquired before 1856.

While it is generally accepted that there were no official plated denarii issued by the Roman Republic, there were very-rare exceptions during the Imperatorial Period. Cornuficius coinage struck in North Africa circa 42 BC (Crawford 509) are more often found plated than solid and may have been an official plated issue. Whether the tyrannicides may have run into occasional silver shortages during the lead-up to Phillipi which required issuance of plated coins on an emergency basis can only be guessed; however, plated coins of the tyrannicides are certainly not common enough to support such a theory. I have seen a few very high-quality plated examples of the above type, but not huge numbers. Also, ancient forgeries would have been produced from impressions of genuine coins and should be of good style. For a solid silver example of the type, see my gallery coin at: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pos=-158193

Publius Servilius Casca Longus was one of the leading conspirators against Julius Caesar, and he was Tribune of the Plebs at the time of the assassination. Plutarch reports that a nervous Casca was the first to stab Caesar on the Ides of March with a glancing blow: Casca gave him the first cut, in the neck, which was not mortal nor dangerous, as coming from one who at the beginning of such a bold action was probably very much disturbed. Caesar immediately turned about and laid his hand upon the dagger and kept hold of it. And both of them at the same time cried out, he that received the blow, in Latin, Vile Casca, what does this mean? and he that gave it, in Greek, to his brother [Gaius] Brother, help! [Plutarch: Lives of the noble Grecians and Romans, Arthur Clough (Ed.)] After Caesars assassination, Casca was given command of Brutus fleet. Nothing is known of Casca following the Battle of Philippi in October 42 BCE, where he likely perished or committed suicide in the aftermath.

The Neptune obverse refers to Cascas naval command and the naval superiority of the conspirators before Philippi. Coins of the conspirators are replete with depictions of liberty and victory, and this coin is no exception. The reverse, with its broken scepter, clearly alludes to the assassins hope to eliminate monarchy in the Roman state and restore the Republic. Some authors have speculated that Victory is breaking a regal diadem on this type, although I dont think that is abundantly clear.

The coin comes from the Duke of Northumberland Collection, catalogued by Admiral William Smyth in his 1856 book, "Descriptive Catalogue of A Cabinet of Roman Family Coins Belonging to His Grace the Duke of Northumberland," and sold by Sothebys in 1982. The Smyth book has no plates (line drawn or otherwise), but it does contain detailed descriptions of the collection coins with weights in grains. This coin is described in Smyths book, therefore it must have been acquired by the Dukes family before 1856. Smyth described the collection as being in the Dukes family for many years, so the ownership history conceivably dates to the 18th century. In describing this coin, Smyth said: [t]his remarkably well-plated denarius, in very high preservation, and though fully spread, weighs only 39.5 grains Indeed, the coin is remarkably well-plated, with only one spot of the core visible on Neptunes cheek, and the flan quite full at 20mm. Except for the one spot of visible core, the surfaces are exceptional, with deep iridescent tone, reflecting over a century spent in the Dukes cabinet.
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