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An Ancient Coin for Independence Day

On July 4th, 1776 the Continental Congress "...in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown...".


While I don't have any coins from the start of the American republic, this coin is perhaps relevant:

Roman Republican, M. Junius Brutus, 54 BC.

AR Denarius, Rome, struck 54 BC

Obv: Bearded and bare-headed head right of L. Junius Brutus; BRVTVS.

Rev: Bearded and bare-headed head right of Caius Servilius Ahala; AHALA

Size: 3.96g, 17-19mm

Ref: Crawford 433/2; Junia 30


This obverse of this coins references the founding of the Roman Republic. The obverse portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus, tells the story of the overthrowing of the monarchy in 509 BC. This Brutus of 509, nephew to Rome's seventh king, Tarquinius Superbus, and grandson to Rome's 5th king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, led the revolt that banished the king and his family. He was then elected as one of the first two consuls of the new republic. M. Junius Brutus, in 54 BC claimed the earlier Brutus as his ancestor.


The reverse of this coin shows another ancestor of M. Junius Brutus, Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala, who in 439 murdered Spurius Maelius for plotting to make himself king. M. Junius Brutus, was the descendant of these two tyrannicides. A decade later, in 44 BC, he would be the leader of the conspirators who killed Julius Caesar on the Ides of March. At the time, 54 BC, the coin was perhaps only a celebration of liberty, freedom from tyranny, the founding of the republic, and Brutus’ ancestors.


America’s founding fathers took inspiration from the Roman Republic and the ideals, writings and characters of ancient Rome. George Washington had a play "Cato, A tragedy" performed at Valley Forge in 1778 to rally the troops....but that is another coin and another story. Picking the imagery on the first coins under the Mint Authorization Act of 1792 the founders chose the Roman goddess Libertas and her classical attributes of cap (pileus) and staff (vindicta). The liberty cap became and important symbol in the American revolution and on American coins. The liberty cap also appears on a more famous coin of Brutus - the EID MAR.


Happy 4th!

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