Extremely rare coins make their way to Chicago; the Obamas visit Ireland; a Wild West theme park in Germany; Boston’s harbor gets a makeover; the 20th anniversary of Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza.
In the Round
Some very rare coins make their way east
— ROD O’CONNOR
THE WAY Larry Shepherd describes it, shipping millions of dollars in rare coins isn’t much different from packing china for a move across town. “ They’ll be carefully boxed up and encapsulated in shock-absorbing material,” says Shepherd, the executive director of the American Numismatic Association. “And then that box will go into another box. They will be protected very well throughout the entire process.”
The coins are making the trek from the ANA’s nonprofit museum in Colorado Springs to Chicago for this month’s World’s Fair of Money, a rare coin show hosted by the ANA. Upon arrival at the Donald H. Stephens Convention Center via armored truck, the coins are escorted to the show floor by a full complement of armed guards. More than 30 security personnel, some in plainclothes blending in with the crowd, are always watching. The total bill for the detail is in the six-figures. “There’s a whole lot of Thomas Crown Affair going on that may not be obvious to the person walking into the convention,” says Shepherd.
But to anyone with sticky fingers, he offers a caveat: “What would you do with one of those items if you did steal it? Every owner from the time that coin was made is listed, so it would be impossible to sell. It would be like trying to resell the Mona Lisa.”
Among the coins featured at the World’s Fair of Money is the EID MAR Denarius, minted by Marcus Junius Brutus to commemorate his assassination of Caesar on the Ides of March in 44 B.C. Only 100 remain today, fetching upward of $300,000 each. Here’s what the coins are saying.
1. “BRUT” Short for Marcus
2. “IMP” Short for “Imperator,” the title given to victorious Roman generals. (Though he deplored Caesar’s arrogance, Brutus had a bit of an ego himself.)
3. HEAD SHOT Brutus put his own likeness on the coin in open defiance of a Roman tradition that frowned on depicting living men on money. He wasn’t the first: Caesar did it too.
4. “L. PLAET. CEST” Short for Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus, the moneymaker who struck the coins.
6. PILEUS Based on the cap worn by freed slaves, this is the Roman symbol for liberty.
7. “EID MAR” The Ides of March. (Beware.)