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Massive Venetian 40 Zecchino

By Chris Chatigny, Numismatist & Cataloger

Author: Chris Chatingy / Thursday, October 05, 2017 / Categories: World Coin of the Week

The January New York International Numismatic Convention and the auction held by Stack’s Bowers Galleries will usher in 2018 for numismatists from around the world. Coin dealers and collectors based in the United States and across the globe will be in attendance at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan for a week’s worth of lectures, auctions and show room activities. In anticipation of this event, we will begin previewing select highlight coins from the auction on our blog and through our email newsletter. The first highlight coin starts things off with a bang. The coinage of the Doges of Venice is easily identifiable to most numismatists, regardless of experience. For nearly five centuries the design remained relatively unchanged: the Doge at left holds a long cross and kneels before Saint Mark (at right), who holds the Gospel and raises his free hand in benediction. The reverse design presents a nimbate Christ standing, holding globus cruciger and raising other hand in benediction, amidst stars. The only change to the design over the centuries would be the new Doge’s name, which appeared in the obverse legend. The series takes a turn for the spectacular when the larger multiple denominations are considered. The piece featured here is a remarkable 40 Zecchini, with only four denominations that are larger. It seems certain that all of these over-sized gold coins were intended as presentation pieces for dignitaries of the highest rank. A reference work for the coinage of the Doges of Venice (by Raffaele Paolucci) has a rarity scale, with this issue achieving the highest rank: “known from two or three specimens only, or unique.” Without a doubt, this is an exceedingly rare piece. It weighs in at 139.23 grams and was struck during the reign of the penultimate Doge, Paolo Renier (1779-1789). His successor would be overthrown by the ambitions of Napoleon, bringing an end to the Venetian Republic. Owning a massive piece of history like this has eluded many collectors, confirming the importance of this opportunity.

We are currently taking consignments of world and ancient coins as well as world paper money for our January 2018 New York International Auction. We are also accepting consignments of Chinese and other Asian coins and currency for our April 2018 Hong Kong Showcase Auction. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.