Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 6

Estimate: 75'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 60'000 CHF Price realized: 200'000 CHF
M. Junius Brutus with Cornelius Lentulus Spinther. Aureus, mint moving with Brutus 43-42, AV 8.01 g. Axe, culullus and knife; below, BRVTVS. Rev. Jug and lituus; below, LENTVLVS / SPINT. Babelon Junia 40 and Cornelia 70. C –. Bahrfeldt 61.3 and pl. VII, 11 (this coin illustrated). Sydenham 1309. Sear Imperators 197. Calicó 59a (this coin). Biaggi 36 (this coin). RBW 1765 (this coin). Crawford 500/6.
Of the highest rarity, only five specimens known of which this is the only one
in private hands. Several light scratches and marks on fields and on edge,
otherwise good very fine / very fine


Apostolo Zeno (1668-1750) Collection, later in the collection of the Abbey of St. Florian in Austria, sold by Dorotheum, Vienna, auction, 8-9 June 1956, lot 2935.

Privately sold by Herbert Adolf Cahn – Münzen und Medaillen AG in July 1956 for CHF 3600.

Leo Biaggi de Blasys (1906-1979) Collection, sold to Bank Leu and Marco Ratto in 1978.

Nelson Bunker Hunt (1926-2014) Collection, sold by Sotheby’s, Zürich, auction (part III), 19-20 June 1991, lot 670.

Richard B. Witschonke (1945-2015) Collection, sold by Classical Numismatic Group with Freeman & Sear with Numismatica Ars Classica, New York, auction Triton III, 30 November 1999, lot 841.

Barry Feirstein Collection, sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 45, 2 April 2008, lot 34.

“A Student and his Mentor” Collection, sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 70, 16 May 2013, lot 181.

Though in history the names Julius Caesar and Brutus are virtually inseparable, as people they could not have had more distinct philosophies. Brutus was a supporter of the wealthy upper class, whereas Caesar found his political niche as a populist; Brutus defended the status quo, and Caesar wanted to restructure Roman society in favour of the common man. On many occasions Caesar recruited Brutus to his side, for his talents and honour were obvious to all. Brutus benefited greatly from Caesar's generosity, and on at least one occasion Caesar spared Brutus' life when he could have executed him without comment. Complicating matters further were their family ties and personal friendship – at the very least because Brutus' mother was one of Caesar's great lovers, and some even believed Caesar was Brutus' father. Clearly their fates were intertwined from the outset, and few could have predicted that Brutus would lead a coup to murder his benefactor Caesar. To this day historians question the integrity and the motives of Brutus in this act of regicide, for his personal character is contradictory on so many levels that it is impossible to summarise.

In all likelihood this aureus belongs to 42 B.C., a year of turmoil in the Roman world. Though an issue of Brutus, this piece was produced by P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, a legate of Cassius. The designs are emblematic of both issuers: the axe, culullus and knife represent the pontificate of Brutus, and the jug and lituus recall the augurate which Spinther assumed in 57 B.C. (the same year in which the man presumed to be his father, L.C. Lentulus Spinther, was ordinary consul). Spinther was quaestor in 44, and in 43 he stood for proquaestor pro praetore in Asia before becoming a legatus for Cassius. Essentially nothing is known of Spinther's personality, but the coinage suggests that he squandered no opportunity for self-promotion, as he also used his personal reverse type on a substantial issue of denarii that he struck for Cassius.

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