The First Coins of the Renaissance (Help!)

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by ycon, Jan 17, 2022.

  1. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    My win from the New York Sale, last week, is a grosso of Sixtus IV-- the first papal coin to feature a realistic portrait (dies attributed to the goldsmith and medalist Emiliano Orfini). One of the hallmarks, distinguishing Renaissance coinage from Medieval, is the use of realistic portraiture. This got me wondering: what are the first truly "Renaissance" issues around Europe. I thought I would appeal to our collective knowledge for assistance.

    For context: the first realistic portrait of a coin in Italy, since the Romans (excepting Frederick II's Augustalis of the mid 1200s-- if you stretch the definition of "realistic") is often said to be the ducat of Francesco Sforza minted starting in 1462 (I believe @panzerman can show us one of his own), but the true title may belong to the 1458 ducato of Ferdinando d'Aragona in Naples.

    Within just a couple years several other Italian rulers had begun to mint coins with realistic likeness. Among these were:

    Galeazzo Maria Sforza--the son of Francesco--who minted the first Testone ("Big Head") in 1474 (as well as earlier portraits starting from about 1467)
    Doge Nicolò Tron in Venice in 1472
    and Pope Sixtus IV in Rome in 1483

    The artistic and propagandistic power of the portrait--and often of the Testone, the denomination that featured it--steadily spread throughout the rest of Europe.

    There are a few coins that immediately come to mind as the first realistic renaissance issues in their respective countries, such as the groat of James III in Scotland, or the coins of Henry VII in England. Louis XII in France first minted realistic testoni in Milan after he became duke of that city, and then began to mint his own testons in Paris.

    What I would like to know from those of you with other specialties (the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, etc.) is what would you consider the first renaissance coin in your area? I appreciate your help, and of course feel free to include any relevant coins of your own.

    Here's my grosso of Sixtus and my Trono:

    1049205_0.jpg 1049206_0.jpg
    Papel States. Rome. Sixtus IV (1471-1484). Silver Grosso, undated. Rome Mint. First papal coinage with a portrait of the Pope on it. Bust in robe left.SIXTVS. IIII. PONT.MAX.VRBE.REST. Reverse; Arms surmounted by mitre and crossed keys, VTILITATI.PVBLICAE, weight 3.50g (Berman 451; Munt I;g80,14). Dies attributed to Emiliano Orfini. Ex CNG 55, 9/2000, lot 1723, Peter Corcoran Collection.

    Venice Lira Nicolo Tron undated (1471-1473) Obverse: Bust of Doge left TRONVS. DVX. NICOLAVS, Reverse: Lion within inner circle MARCVS SANCTVS, 6.45 grammes, Biaggi#2901, Paolucci 2. Dies by Antonella della Moneta.
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  3. wittwolf

    wittwolf Well-Known Member

    Awesome pieces! As far as I know the first german/ holy roman imperial coinage in the renaissance style with realistic portraits is the one of Emperor Maximilian I. minted around the year 1500. I sadly dont own any spectacular coin from his reign but here you can see some:
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  4. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Nice score !

    The first realistic portrait of the period in what is now France wasn't a royal coin (they would appear 25 years later on a Louis XII teston), but a feudal coin minted in Dombes for Jean II de Bourbon

    Jean II de Bourbon, Duc de Bourbon (1456-1488), Franc à cheval
    Atelier de Trévoux
    +IONES*DVX*BORBONI*TREVOBCII׃DNS. Buste cuirassé du Prince à gauche, portant le collier de l'ordre de St Michel.
    DEXTER A*D NI.*EXAL TAVIT*MEA Le Prince casqué et cuirassé à cheval, brandissant une épée et passant à droite. La housse est semée de lis, accompagnée de la brisure (les armes de la maison de Bourbon).
    22 mm - 3,44 gr.
    Ref : Divo Dombes # 1 (5 exemplaires decrits), Mantellier -, Poey d’Avant -, Friedberg # 119

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  5. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Oh yes! I knew that but had forgotten. Is that one yours? Amazing...
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  6. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    It is indeed

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  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I think it would be a mistake to conclude that realistic numismatic portraiture in Italy began with the coins you mention, minted in the 1460s, without taking into account the famous medallic portaiture of the great Renaissance artist and medallist Antonio Pisanello, beginning in the 1430s. See; The former wouldn't have existed without the latter.

    In England, I can't think of any realistic portraits before the profile coins of Henry VII.
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  8. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    @DonnaML You won’t find any disagreement from me. The works of Pisanello were hugely influential on the development of Renaissance coinage in Italy. One could, of course, trace the development of Renaissance sculpture father back still— say to the work of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano in Pisa—but what I’m specifically interested in in this post is the moment(s) when those changes began to actually manifest in coinage— especially since in many cases they can be tied to very specific issues.
    DonnaML likes this.
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I get it. It's just that whereas sculpture and painting may be several steps from realistic portraiture on circulating coinage, medallic portaiture lies only about half a step from it!
  10. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Again, I don’t disagree. But the topic of Renaissance medals is very well written about, and I’ve found that it’s much harder to find information and literature (in English anyway) on the development of Renaissance coinage… hence my appeal to the collective knowledge here.
    DonnaML likes this.
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