The First Testone

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ycon, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Way back in May, I won this coin of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, but Italian export licences being what they are, it did not arrive until today. The condition isn't perfect, but I love the way the toning adds a painterly volume to the portrait.

    Duchy of Milan
    Galeazzo Maria Sforza
    (1466-1476). Testone 1474-76. Right: armored duke's bust on the right. GALEAZ • M • SF • VICECOS • DVX • MLI • QIT Galeazzo Maria Sforza Vicecomitis Ducis Mediolani Quintus: "Galeazzo Maria Sforza Visconti, Fifth Duke of Milan" - Reverse: coat of arms surmounted by helmet with crest decorated with crested dragon; on the sides burning branches with buckets and initials. PP • ANGLE • Q3 • CO • AC • IANVE • D • Papie Angleriae Que Comes ac Ianuae Dominus: "Count of Pavia and Angera and Lord of Genoa" - gr. 9.56 - Old cabinet tone (CNI V / 171/76) (Crippa II / 197 / 6B) (Biaggi No. 1548)

    Beginning in 1474 Galeazzo issued the first Testones, so-called because of the "big head" (testa) on the obverse. The coin type would become popular all over Italy, before spreading to France (teston), England and Scotland (testoon). With their naturalistic portraits, these coins are often seen as one of the first "modern" coinages.

    Portrait of Galeazzo by Piero del Pollaiuolo (Uffizi)

    Galeazzo was a tyrant noted for his extreme cruelty, which resulted in his assassination two years later, in 1476.

    The engraver of the dies has traditionally thought to have been the sculptor Cristoforo Foppa, known as Caradossa. (Some modern scholars have disputed this attribution.)

    Caradosso is described in several contemporaneous sources:

    Vasari: Caradosso, a most excellent goldsmith, who had no peer in making dies

    Cellini, of whom I also own a Testone, offered high praise:

    There was in Rome another most excellent craftsman of ability, who was a Milanese named Messer Caradosso." He dealt in nothing but little chiselled medals, made of plates of metal, and such-like things. I have seen of his some paxes in half relief, and some Christs a palm in length wrought of the thinnest golden plates, so exquisitely done that I esteemed him the greatest master in that kind I had ever seen, and envied him more than all the rest together.​

    He is also mentioned in an hyberbole by Bernardo Bellincioni celebrating the greatest talents of Milan:

    Nature does not tie an apple to the branch
    Or Spring flowers to the grass,
    As well as precious stones from the hand of Caradosso come forth
    Set in jewelry for the person who judges them.
    Milan, take pleasure that within your walls,
    You have today the honor of excellent men:
    Del Vinci, whose designs and colours
    Make the moderns and ancients fear...
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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  3. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing and a nice looking coin!
    ycon likes this.
  4. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

    I really like the portrait -great coin.
    ominus1 and ycon like this.
  5. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    A beautiful coin would love an example in my price bracket. Congrats.
    ycon likes this.
  6. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    Another great coin @ycon I really like it.
    ycon likes this.
  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning.

    @ycon, your collecting aesthetic and goals are wonderful!
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  8. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

  9. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

  10. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Wow! That means a lot coming from you :D
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  11. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    Beautiful portrait and a wonderful coin overall, congrats!! But I think the reverse would look better right side up. ;)

    Here's my grosso from the previous ruling family, the Visconti:

    Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 9.19.44 PM.jpg
    Milan: Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1395-1402)

    What is the significance of the "G3" on both coins?
  12. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    That's a lovely OP coin!

    102_4336_zps34ada3e0 (1).jpg

    I'd like to know what the symbols are flanking the dragon as well, mine is I-M. The G-3 or G-Z? seems to be on many coins from Milan.
    Multatuli, Bing, TheRed and 2 others like this.
  13. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    The G3 M on mine supposedly stands for Galeazzo Maria. Since they do both share the name Galeazzo that might explain the G3 on yours... especially since gothic Zs often look like the 3s.

    And you're right about the reverse, but I only have a single image file for the coin (auction photo since I have no proper camera) and I was too lazy to split it, flip it, and recombine :sorry:
    chrsmat71 and Severus Alexander like this.
  14. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    I believe it stands for Giovanni (Iohanes) Maria, who issued your coin.
    chrsmat71 likes this.
  15. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    Of course! I should have realized that. Thanks!

    I figured it was probably the auction photo. Here you go:
    Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.05.54 PM.jpg
    It does look better! :happy: What a great coin, I love it!
    Multatuli, Bing, TheRed and 4 others like this.
  16. Pellinore

    Pellinore Well-Known Member

    Great thread about a beautiful Renaissance coin! It reminds me of this photo that I took in the Museo Correr in Venice in the spring. There were sundry badly lit glass cases with sparsely explained, stunning Roman and Italian coins and medals, a.o. these Renaissance medals designed by Pisanello (dating from 1440-1445). The lower one shows Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. He was a condottiere fighting for and later against the Sforza family.

    Ven Pisanello Child and Malatesta.jpg

    Indeed, there is a famous fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli that shows Galeazzo (right) and Sigismondo (left) next to each other. Copied it from Wikipedia.

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2018
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  17. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    Thanks for that info! Here is an edited coin pic!
    Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.jpg
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  18. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Supporter! Supporter

    That's a most beautiful teston @ycon, congrats on a great acquisition and great writeup.

    A few years before this first teston has been produced by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, his father Francesco Sforza had a gold ducat issued in 1462, which was the very first attempt in western Europe to mint coins featuring realistic portraits, inspired by the antique ones

    Ducat de Francesco Sforza (courtesy vente Varesi # 54/149 du 18/11/2009)

    And it's after that very ducat that was initiated a similar production in France, the first one being the cavalier d'or for Jean II de Bourbon in Dombes

    Cavalier d’or de Jean II de Bourbon (après 1469)
    (collection privée)

  19. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander find me at NumisForums Supporter

    Wow, Q, you actually got me excited about a Dombes coin!! :woot::D Your Francesco Sforza ducat is also fantastic. I'm glad you didn't get it in the last year and a half... ;)
    Cucumbor likes this.
  20. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    @Cucumbor gorgeous coins! are they both yours? :wideyed:
    Cucumbor likes this.
  21. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Supporter! Supporter

    The Francesco Sforza ducat isn't mine unfortunately....


    PS : and it would loose the bargain category I guess
    ycon and Severus Alexander like this.
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