Friday, 2023.03.24
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Numismatic Puzzle: Dante Alighieri

On 8 February 1998, Italians were invited to vote by telephone on the motif of future 2 euro coins. And the people voted: Dante Alighieri, who is indisputably considered Italy’s most important poet.

Numismatic Puzzle: Ercole I d’Este

Testone, “big head”, is the name of silver coins that were introduced in 15th-century Italy. They are particularly large and heavy coins featuring the portrait of a ruler. Here you can see a magnificent testone by Ercole I d’Este, the Duke of Ferrara from around 1500.

Numismatic Puzzle: Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza

This gold double ducat from c.1475 depicts Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza. In name – and in name only – the youth was Duke of Milan as he was under constant guardianship until his early death. What remains are coins minted for him depicting splendid Renaissance portraits.

Numismatic Puzzle: Metz

The city of Metz, too, minted silver coins in the standard of the popular tornesel. They depict St Stephen, to whom the city’s cathedral is dedicated. However, the building was still under construction when our piece was minted at some point after 1406.

Numismatic Puzzle: Medieval Women Power in Switzerland

As a sign of their power, the abbesses of the Fraumünster in Zurich had the right to mint coins. But by the time they decided to depict themselves on their issues, as on this late 13th-century pfennig, they had already had to surrender much of their power to the citizens of the town.

Numismatic Puzzle: Albert the Bear

In the 12th century, Albert the Bear gradually expanded his territory until the royal chancellery bestowed his conquests to him as the Margraviate of Brandenburg. How did he present himself? Put together an image of Albert depicted on one of his denarii.

Numismatic Puzzle: A Rebellious Mint Master

According to its reverse, this denarius of Louis the Pious was minted in Venice. But the lagoon city wasn’t even ruled by the Carolingians! How is this possible? Does this coin testify to a plot of the mint master against his doge? …

Numismatic Puzzle: Arcadius

This solidus of Arcadius was minted in AD 395. Arcadius’ father Theodosius had just died. His brother Honorius administered the western part of the empire from Rome, and he himself administered the east from Constantinople. The beginning of the Byzantine Empire!

Numismatic Puzzle: Lombards

This gold coin is an issue by Sico I, the Lombard Prince of Benevento (817-832). His realm was in southern Italy and bordered Byzantine territories. Coins like this solidus testify of the neighbour’s cultural impact.

Numismatic Puzzle: Paris

This stater is attributed to the Parisii tribe. In ancient times, today’s Paris was not yet a centre of art. However, inspired by Greek coins, Celtic engravers found their very own form of expression at the end of the 2nd century BC.