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Charles IX, Teston 1562, Dy 1063

Started by Figleaf, February 05, 2022, 12:28:00 PM

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The renaissance didn't start by someone proposing to have it or someone else setting out to discover the American continent. It was a process in which art led the way. In this process, coins changed completely. The quintessential medieval coin is the denier, a cross on one side, surrounded by sturdy letters and a clumsy monogram, picture or arms on the other side. The quintessential renaissance coin is the teston.

Its story starts with the un-famous artist who determined for centuries what a coin looks like: Pisanello (c. 1380/1395 – c. 1450/1455). He cast medals that were artistically light years ahead. They showed the ruler, always in profile, with name and titles on one side and a coat of arms or other symbol of the ruler, his family or his land on the other side. His best known medal (1438) inspired a class of large (compared to the deniers) coins: the teston. Ignoring a Venetian coin of 1472 showing doge Nicolò Tron, which was a failed experiment in a land that wanted to stay a republic, the first successful teston was a lira for Galeazzo Sforza, duke of Milano.

The teston travelled well. François I, king of France owned Milano when Charles V let him. His testons struck in Milano still look medieval, but back home, the teston became firmly entrenched as the highest denomination silver coin. Here is one in the name of a still youthful Charles IX (1560 - 1574). The highest points are unfortunately the details of face and clothing, so I am adding a line drawing from Duplessy. An old jewellery clamp obscured the place where the mint mark was. Since it held the portrait upside down, it may have been used as an amulet.

Teston 1562, illegible mint, Dy 1063.

Obv: laureated (ribbon behind) cuirassed bust left, CAROLVS.VIIII.D.G.FRANC.REX
Rev: crowned arms between crowned monograms C, + (doubling as top of the crown) SIT.NOMEN.DomiNI.BENEDICtvm.Mediolanum.Dux.LXII (date)

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


It's a very interesting coin, with a very interesting writing aboutbits history. I wasn't aware on Pisanello's work, and damn, that man really knew how to do his stuff!