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Portugal: Patacão (10 reais), João III, nd (1550-1557). N# 39455

Started by FosseWay, September 29, 2022, 01:31:43 PM

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I'm drawing a blank on this sad-looking specimen. Any ideas?

c. 38 mm, not sure of weight.


The "X" is a bit of a giveaway.  It marks the spot as it were. ;D
always willing to trade modern UK coins for modern coins from elsewhere....


Great id! I didn't even see the cross before you pointed it out.

Obviously, the hole is made so that it can be worn on clothes (the pointy bits around the hole were hammered down) and the maker of the hole had a use for showing the Portuguese coat of arms sometimes after 1550.

I think there is a fair chance that the wearer lived outside Portugal, where he could easily have been taken for a Spaniard and he didn't want that. Three countries fit that bill: the Republic (at that time comprising parts of what is now Belgium), England and France, all for the same reason.

In 1580, Portugal had to deal with a succession crisis. It was decided in favour of Philip II of Spain. However, Phil had a hard time getting rid of his last competitor, Antonio Prior de Crato. His last Portuguese holdout was the Azores archipel. When he lost that last toehold, he drifted from France, to the Republic - his son Manuel married a daughter of William the silent - and England and back to France. France was a political competitor of Spain, but it had plenty of protestants; the Republic and England were protestant countries that Philip claimed to own and actively at war with Spain. Antonio, reasoning that the enemies of his enemy were his friends, was an ally against the hated (and admittedly quite murderous) house of Habsburg.

Antonio had number of followers surrounding him, for protection, advice and personal services. Their number dwindled as he became poorer, but that took some time. I think those courtiers and court followers had a need to point out quickly that they were Portuguese, not Spanish, even if they didn't speak the local language. An angry lynching crowd could have spoiled their entire day.

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


Thank you! I wasn't looking anywhere like early enough. I did see the cross, and interpreted it correctly as 10 réis, which along with the shield on the other side said Portugal quite strongly. But I was looking in the 18th century, not the 16th...