Which coins were used in the Renaissance by Michaelangelo & DaVinci?

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Gam3rBlake, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Hey guys, I’m not very knowledgeable about early modern coinage so I was hoping someone could help me out.

    What gold & silver coinage would have been in the pockets (not sure if they had pockets if not then maybe coin purses?) of men like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, etc., during the Renaissance period?

    If they are different from each other that’s okay too. I’d just love a coin from that time & place but I’m not sure what I’m looking for.

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  3. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    It's a little late, but here's a Venice 1 Sesino from 1595-1605
    Venice 1 Sesino 1595-1605 copy.jpeg

    I did a search for Italian States 1450-1575 which you could look over if you like.
  4. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! :)

    Do you happen to know if that’s the gold or silver one?
  5. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Mine? It's billon (debased silver). I got it as part of a big mixed lot of Italian States coppers for about 70 cents each. Renaissance gold and silver are outside my usual price range. I mostly buy these for the practice learning to ID them. Pre-1600 is pretty tough for me as my Krause guides end at 1601.

    Michelangelo died in 1564, so mine is at least 31 years too late.
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  6. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    My guess would be these Venetian Grosso. Although these were minted nearly 200 years earlier, I'm sure they would've been in circulation during the Renaissance.
  7. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Ahh ok I thought maybe it was like florins or ducats or something like that. o_O

    Wow I’m way off.
  8. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    I thought in those days they used high purity silver & gold?

    I saw this gold coin from Spain called an “Excelente” that was used during Columbus’s time and it looked like high purity gold.

    I guess I figured they used something similar in Venice.
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  9. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    Those Venetian Grosso coins are 99% pure silver!
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  10. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    In a lot of their coins they did use high fineness silver or gold, but, that was only for the higher value, (larger denomination), coins.

    Think about it for a minute Blake, how do make a coin that is comparable in denomination to a cent, a nickel, or a dime, out of high fineness silver or gold ? In a practical sense you can't do it because the coins would be so small you couldn't even hold on to them.

    Their answer to this problem was to use what they called billon, a metal composed of low or sometimes very low percentage of silver with other base metals. That way there was at least some silver value in the coin, that kept the coin big enough to handle easily, but it was a small enough amount to make it comparable in denomination to a fraction of a cent, a cent, a nickel, etc etc.

    Ya see, back then many cultures believed that all coins had to have at least some silver or gold in them. They simply didn't believe in making coins out of base metals. That said, some did use base metals, but many did not. And that's why they used billon.
  11. charley

    charley Well-Known Member

    No, you are not.

    Examples would be that Michelangelo was paid 3,000 Ducats for painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. He was also paid 10,000 Ducats for the tomb of Pope Julius II, which was an astounding amount of money, BTW.

    Da Vinci was generally paid in Ducats and Florins.

    This is very well documented in Vatican Records.

    Hope this helps, and helps restore your confidence in your gut instinct.
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  12. talerman

    talerman Well-Known Member

    Michelangelo, born March 6, 1475, Caprese, Republic of Florence —died February 18, 1564, Rome, Papal States

    Can't show you any of those ducats he earned from the Pope but here are a couple of more modest Papal silver coins he may have used to buy a glass of wine with his friends

    Papal States Sede Vacante Giulio n.d. (1521-22)

    Papal States Sede Vacante Giulio nd 1520-21 obv 081.jpg Papal States Sede Vacante Giulio nd 1520-21 rev 084.jpg

    Papal States CLEMENT VII 1/2 Giulio (Grosso) n.d. (1523-34)

    Clement VII was a member of the Medici family and the coin has the 6-balls Medici arms on the obverse. Michelangelo had a complicated relationship with the Medici family, who were for most of his lifetime the effective rulers of his home city of Florence. Following his initial work for Lorenzo de' Medici, Michelangelo's interactions with the family continued for decades including the Medici papacies of Pope Leo X and Pope Clement VII. Sophisticated, handsome, and intelligent, Pope Clement VII became one of Michelangelo's most important patrons – despite Vatican coffers running low during his papacy, due to the extravagances of previous popes and a string of international misfortunes. The Pope had plans to make the Laurentian Library public and in doing so, Clement proposed creating a new building. Michelangelo was contracted and produced an amazing design but it was not carried out until he moved to Rome in 1525. In this project, Michelangelo produced new styles such as pilasters tapering thinner at the bottom, and a staircase with contrasting rectangular and curving forms. Michelangelo worked on these two projects off and on for the next thirteen years. Ultimately, it was finished after his death. Mere days before his own death, Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. (Wikipedia)

    Papal States Clement VII Half Giulio (Grosso) nd 1523-34 obv 036.jpg Papal States Clement VII Half Giulio (Grosso) nd 1523-34 rev 039.jpg
  13. talerman

    talerman Well-Known Member

    Leonardo da Vinci, born on 15 April 1452 in, or close to, the Tuscan hill town of Vinci, near Florence; died on 2 May 1519 in Amboise, France.

    Leonardo worked in Milan c. 1482–1499 and 1508-13. During this time he might have used these coins:

    Milan LUDOVICO MARIA SFORZA, IL MORO (called the Moor because of his dark complexion), Regent for his nephew Giovanni Galeazzo Maria ( who died in suspicious circumstances in 1494, allowing Ludovico to become duke in his own right) Grosso of 3 Soldi n.d. (1481-94)

    Milan Lud Maria Reg for Gio Gal 3 soldi grosso nd obv 402.jpg

    Milan Lud Maria Reg for Gio Gal 3 soldi grosso nd rev 405.jpg

    Milan LUDOVICO MARIA SFORZA, IL MORO, Regent for Giovanni Galeazzo Maria Testone n.d. (1481-94)

    Milan Ludovico Moro Reg for Gian Galeazzo Testone nd LD obv 194.jpg Milan Ludovico Moro Reg for Gian Galeazzo Testone nd LD rev 197.jpg

    In 1516, Leonardo entered the service of François I, King of France, who had recaptured Milan in 1515. François gave him the use of the manor house Clos Lucé, near the king's residence at the royal Château d'Amboise and they became good friends. During his time in France he might have used the following coin:

    France FRANÇOIS I Teston n.d. (1515-40) Rouen mint

    France Francois I Teston nd 1515-40 obv 736.jpg France Francois I Teston nd 1515-40 rev 742.jpg
  14. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Yeah I get your point but I was kind of asking about the bigger value coins not so much small change.

    Id like to get a silver or gold coin from those times.
  15. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Hi @Gam3rBlake,

    I collect mainly Italian Renaissance coins, so maybe I can be of some help to you.

    Leonardo and Michelangelo both started their careers in Florence, with Michelangelo later working in Rome, and Leonardo working in Milan and France. If you want coins they may have used then I would look for issues from those cities from roughly the 1450s-1550s. You could of course look more specifically based on the exact years when/where they were active. http://numismatica-italiana.lamoneta.it/ is a catalog of Italian coinage and a good resource.

    One of my favorite things about Renaissance coins is that there were major artists who actually engraved coin dies and struck coins—not Leonardo and Michelangelo, but important and wonderful artists nonetheless. Francesco Francia was the founder of the Bolognese Renaissance School of painting and worked there for decades as the master of the mint. Benvenuto Cellini was on of the great sculptors of the Renaissance, even rivaling Michelangelo. I own five coins of his, which he struck for Popes Clement VII, Paul and the Duke of Florence Alessandro de Medici. Leone Leoni was a rival, in turn, of Cellini, and was championed by Michelangelo. He even struck a medal commemorating Michelangelo’s 88th birthday. I own three coins from dies engraved by him. A nice thread for getting a sense of some Renaissance coinage is here: https://www.cointalk.com/threads/post-your-renaissance-coins.317981/

    There are several coins that have specific artistic ties to Leonardo:

    First, the Testone col Cavaliere of Ercole d’Este struck between 1502-4. The anepigraphic reverse features a nude horseman which is thought to be based on the famous lost/never completed equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza. The terracotta model completed by Leonardo is supposed to have been brought to Ferrara.

    (not my coin)

    Leonardo was employed at the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan from 1482-99. The classic portrait of the duke as regent and as ruler, as seen on his testoni, was traditionally attributed to a design by Leonardo. There is no direct evidence for this, but as court painter it’s not impossible he was asked to sketch a portrait for the die engraver to make use of. In any event the coin is linked to a very specific moment of the Renaissance in Milan that is closely associated with Leonardo.

    (my coin)

    The third is the grosso da 4 soldi of Ludovico’s brother and predecessor Galeazzo Maria Sforza. The coin was likely designed by Ambrogio di Predis, who was an important follower and associate of Leonardo’s who worked for the mint of Milan.

    (not my coin)
  16. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you very much! ^_^

    I will definitely check it out.

    The weird thing is I don’t plan on collecting a bunch of them or anything. Just one or two from that period.

    I like to collect coins from all across history that circulated during time periods I am interested in.

    Everything from 5th century BC Athens to the Roman Republic and Empire to colonial America and all the way up to WW2.
  17. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Well, look for one of these then -

    1400 Venetian ducat obv.jpg

    1400 Venetian ducat rev.jpg

    It's a Venetian ducat, that specific one minted in 1400. But they minted them, exact same design, for centuries. So both Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo would have owned some, been paid in some, and certainly spent some. And they're fairly easy to find in the date range you want, and one of the more reasonably priced.
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  18. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    Given that neither artist had hardly any connections to Venice (besides respectively running away there for short stints because of political upheaval around 1499/1500), I think a much more appropriate archetypal coin would be the Florin or Fiorino, which was struck with minimal design modifications from 1252-1533.

    These three series, cover the years 1474-1533-- roughly the period of the two artists overlapping associations with the city.


    Here is one from 1476-- a year they were both in Florence (though as an infant Michelangelo was probably not handling much money)
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  19. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Supporter! Supporter

    Oh yeah i definitely want one like that!

    Any idea where I could find one?
  20. Mickey in PDX

    Mickey in PDX Member

    Oh man, I would have loved to have been nearby when that payday was handed over. In reality I guess it was paid in installments but thinking of watching a huge sack of Ducats being dropped on the table and hearing "here you go Michael, 3000 as promised"! Bit of fantasy going on in my mind.
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  21. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Yes, the florin was another not only popular but common coin of the time. And both coins, the florin and the ducat, circulated widely throughout Italy, not just their respective city states. The thing is though, the Venetian ducat was the US dollar of it's time, and that time covered centuries. It was accepted worldwide, and more readily accepted than any other coin of the time. And it was that coin that made Venice the trade capital of the world for that time frame.

    And Venice stayed the trade capital of the world until the Netherlands came along and replaced them. And again, the thing that allowed the Netherlands to replace them, was their coin, the Netherlands gold ducat - which became the new US dollar, and stayed that way for centuries.

    Those two countries were the trade capital of the the world for almost a thousand years, and the Netherlands still is. And it was all because of their gold ducats, and the trust and acceptability the entire world placed in those coins. No other coins can make that claim - only those two. The Netherlands gold ducat was so widely accepted that the Russian government counterfeited them for 150 years, and used them in their own country ! They even paid their soldiers with them.
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