New Cellini Coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ycon, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Much sooner than I ever expected (and by spending a much larger portion of my income than is perhaps advisable) I was able to acquire a second coin with dies engraved by Benvenuto Cellini. If you missed it, I did a write up of my first Cellini coin, and an overview of his coinage here:

    518R.jpg 518D.jpg
    Alessandro de'Medici (1532-1536) First Duke of Florence. Mezzo giulio. CNI 24/29. MIR 105. AG. g. 1.60 RRR. O: ALEXANDER MED R P FLOREN DVX crowned coat of arms. R: IOANNES BAPTISTA Haloed bust of St. left., with cross and hair shirt. Scratch in the field of R / VF. RRR Dies by Benvenuto Cellini.

    This coin was minted after Cellini fled Rome (where he had continued to work minting coins for Paul III after Clement VII's death) and gone to Florence in the service of Alessandro de' Medici, the first official Medici duke of Florence (made duke by his Medici cousin, none other than Clement VII-- the earlier Medicis had simply been de facto rulers).

    This coin is more-or-less never found in very high condition, and interestingly, Cellini writes about it in an almost defensive tone:

    “Next I made dies for half-giulios on which I struck the full face of San Giovanni in small. This was the first coin with a head in full face on so thin a piece of silver that had yet been seen. The difficulty of executing it is apparent only to the eyes of such as are past-masters in these crafts.”

    In hand the subtlety of his work is much more impressive than in the enlarged photo.

    Cellini made a giulio for Alessandro which also featured John the Baptist. I am not sure if there are any examples of that coin in private collections. Here is the one from the Bargello museum: 001-benvenuto-cellini-theredlist.jpg

    Post whatever you feel like: coins you never thought you'd own, coins from florence, renaissance coins, artistic masterpieces...
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Neat coin!
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I'm not so sure I would call this defensive as much as stating a fact. In the first place, this is not full face but three quarters which would strike me as even more difficult to execute for a coin lacking thickness to provide metal to fill the dies. This would have required flattening the image more than we had seen in the late Roman period (mostly gold) which were not exactly thick but still twice as thick as this specimen. I wonder if Cellini had second thoughts about his effort or if the concept was ordered from Alessandro de' Medici, he who was to be obeyed without question, and Cellini realized the result was not his best work but was limited by the factors beyond his control. The current specimen almost looks squashed making me wonder if what I see as questionable success might as much be damage as die work.

    The only thing I see worth showing here as comparison would be the portraits of Henry VIII from a similar angle. This time the unknown cutter flattened the image even more which did not push the envelope as had Cellini.
    It would seem there is a fine line between not trying hard enough and trying too hard when failure would be assured if you crossed the line. There is a reason most coins show profiles. The Baptist coin is made even more magnificent knowing that it's creator was well aware that his work was running up to the limits of the craft.
    chrsmat71, TIF, Ryro and 2 others like this.
  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    wow! kool coin!
  6. Iosephus

    Iosephus Well-Known Member

    What a charming little coin, and an interesting quote from Cellini about it.

    Here are a few Renaissance medals of other Medici family members:

    Giuliano II de' Medici

    Pope Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici)

    Pope Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici)
  7. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    @Iosephus wonderful medals-- that Leo X especially!
  8. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    The Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It was the home of the Medici family for a while.


    Basilica San Lorenzo, the burial place of the Medici family. This was one of the first architectural works by Michelangelo.


    The doldrum interiors of the Palazzo Vecchio done by Vasari.

    chrsmat71, Theodosius, TIF and 6 others like this.
  9. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    Cellini was a brilliant sculptor. His Perseus with the Head of Medusa, in Florence, is my favorite sculpture that I saw on my trip to Italy:

    Florence Perseus with head of Medusa.jpg

    He also sculpted items as seemingly mundane as salt cellars (not mine, nor my picture; I apologize for any copyright violation):


    I didn't know he engraved coin dies, though.
  10. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random guy on the internet

    I too was quite fond of that scupture.

    I found it interesting that there are several temple-like structures in Florence that house Renaissance sculptures.

    A9237DCC-C29D-4B90-A54C-BD9B8492E823.jpeg 2CC7C44A-24A8-4856-B928-E22E082F3DA1.jpeg 93D6EF52-6573-4F81-8622-EA959C5AFC4C.jpeg
  11. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    That is a wonderful coin @ycon a true work of art. Congrats on such a great acquisition. I have only one Italian coin to share, from Milan in the 14th century.
    The Duchy of Milan, Bernabo and Galeazzo II Visconti, AR Grosso 1355-1378 AD
    25 mm 2.50 grams
    Obv: Serpent with maiden in its mouth between B G; above (an eagle) a aquiletta R/S; BERNABOS 3 GALEAZ VICECOMITES.
    Rev: Ambrose on the throne; S AMBROSI MEDIOLANV.
  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    In addition to his replica ancients and circulating coins, Cellini did original medallions that are listed in Lawrence:

    CNG et al. have sold coins but I do not recall seeing a medallion offered that did not have some footnotes or questions attached. These would be so far out of my price bracket that it makes no difference.
    Ryro likes this.
  13. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    @dougsmit it seems you're confusing Cellini and Cavino. Cellini did not as far as I know make any replica ancients.

    He did however execute two medals for Clement VII that he describes in his autobiography, as well as one for Francis I and a seal for Ippolito d'este. In addition there's a medal of Pietro Bembo and another for Alessandro de Medici that are attributed to him.

    Here are pictures from the webgallery of art
    Alegandron likes this.
  14. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    You are certainly correct. I am embarassed. I should know better than to comment on modern coins about which I know nothing.
    galba68 and TypeCoin971793 like this.
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