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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Medieval, Islamic and Crusader Coins (Moderators: AlexB, quadrans)  |  Topic: The Papal Corner 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: The Papal Corner  (Read 110994 times)
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« on: July 27, 2005, 07:07:51 pm »

ON NAILING A SCARCE COIN

I finally obtained a grosso of Boniface VIII [1292–1303], the 192nd pope out of 364 from M&M’s recent Auction 16 [p. 215, No. 1578] a scarce, not rare coin.  It’s a French feudal coin of an Italian pope from a German [Stuttgart] auction.  Maybe nobody was looking.  Although this is the ugliest coin in my papal collection, Boniface’s coins were the first papal coins issued during the last millennium.  After him, all but four popes issue coins, so this coin kicks off a long series.  I have the following comments:

1. The noted coin photographer, Douglas Dale Smith, commented on my medieval papal coins:  "They’re all right, if you want to collect coke bottle caps."  This is truly an ugly pop cap.

2. Popes from approximately 657 to 983 did issue coins, but these are so scarce and expensive, I have opted out of that earlier broken series.  I remember being offered a Seventh Century papal coin for only $8,500.  It was the size of two grains of wheat – it was a fraction of a Byzantine silver siliqua that had a papal monogram on it.

3. I am tired to death of reading that Boniface’s coins are the first "Holy Year coinage."  It’s just not true.  Dealers who print this nonsense haven’t bothered to read my book on papal coins 1300–1534, which says that in 1300 a new rector arrived to manage Boniface’s papal fief near Avignon.  "The previous rectorhad embezzled large funds and fled."   The new rector issued French feudal coins in Boniface’s name to "help secure prosperity."

This factoid comes from p. 254 of "Boniface VIII" by T.S.R. Boase, London: Constable and Co., 1933.

Papal financial scandals are nothing new.

4. Although, over the years, I have seen about twice as many Clement V [1305 – 1314] grossi from the same mint, Pont de Sorgues, today called Sorges, in auctions, Clement always brings more money, because, I think, it is an attractive coin.             

My Boniface, while a true "schon" has this coins usual strike-through problems.  The reverse cross shows through on the obverse and obliterates the bust.

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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2005, 11:00:20 am »

Can you post a photo of this grosso ?
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2005, 07:15:20 am »

I have no photo equipment for my computer.  So no picture.  Check Muntoni. de Mey, or any catalog that contains French feudal coins

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P.S. For more on papal, see my soon to be written article on the San Fransisco ANA under shows.
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2005, 03:13:05 pm »

BIOGRAPHY OF THE ANTIPOPE PETER DE LUNA 1342 – 1423
For information on Peter de Luna, also known as the Antipope Benedict XIII read:
Alec Glasfurd.  The Antipope, Peter de Luna, 1342 – 1423, A Study in Obstinacy. Roy Publishers, Inc., New York. 1965, 287 pages, 8 plates.
Peter (Pedro) de Luna [luna = moon] had three "sayings" attached to his reign.
1. The only place he was pope was on the moon.
2. Only the people who live on the moon recognize de Luna as pope.
3. Only the moonstruck (lunatics) think de Luna is pope.
The book is a terrific read.  De Luna took the name Benedict XIII from 1394 to his death in 1422.  The biography does not cover coins.  "All de Luna’s coins were probably struck before October 1398, when the French began a siege of the papal palace at Avignon." [Ryan. p.18.]
It promosts clarity to call this man de Luna, because a pope named Benedict XIII ruled from 1724 to 1730.  The Benedict from the 1700's [Pier Francesco Orsini] issued 81 coin types from three mints [Rome, Bologna & Gubbio].
For coinage details read: 
John Carlin Ryan.   Handbook of Papal Coins, 1268 – 1524.  Washington, D.C. 1989,
87 pages, 6 plates at end of book plus illustrations throughout text.
The book has appeared on e-bay.
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2005, 09:51:23 am »

WRITING ABOUT PAPAL COINS

The papal series breaks into three pieces:

1. Coins from 657[?]/early 700’s till 983.
2. Coins from 1300 to 1870 – The Papal States
3. Coins of Vatican City –1929 to date.

Chamberlains of the Church issued coin for elections, starting in 1268.  Originally, the coins went to pay for the election.  Later, an election coinage was an observed custom.

The dates of the coins help shape any book.  The author is only obliged to give the briefest history of the popes till the mid-Seventh Century.  This avoids a long and controversial period – after all this book is about coins, not religion.

Second, popes do not issue coins during the apogee of papal power, circa 1200.  The civil government at Rome did, however, issue a series from the Senatorial Mint.  They were issued 1184 – 1439.  This mint produced some strange objects, such as the coinage of Cola [Nicholas] Rienzi, who became the subject of a novel and an opera [by Wagner of all people].  Inserting a chapter on the civic coinage of Rome helps close the more than 300-year gap in the coinage of the popes.

I know why the popes stopped coining after 983, but I remain mum.  Buy the book, when it is published.

Now, we get to the break between the end of Pius IX’s reign and mid-reign of Pius XI.  After Pius locked himself in St. Peters and the Vatican Museum-Library complex in 1870, papal coinage ceased till 1929, when the State of the Vatican City emerged.  During that roughly half a century, the Catholic Church evolved from an almost completely medieval institution to one that is more at home in the modern era.

One man did this: Pope Leo XIII [1878 – 1903].  Leo, alas, issued no coins; however, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, a coin collector, and almost sole author of Corpus Numorum Italicorum, ran the Rome mint.  It was probably the only institution in Italy over which the "little" King maintained complete control.  Victor Emmanuel III started minting medals  -- huge ones of splendid design – for the popes starting in 1900.

One quote from Leo XIII’s "Rerum Novarum" [Of New Things] tells the story:

"The most important of all these [organizations] are Workingmen’s Associations…It is gratifying to know that there are actually in existence not a few societies of this nature, consisting of either workmen alone…and it is greatly to be desired that they should multiply and become more effective."

In other words, the pope in 1891 urged all Catholic working men to join labor unions.

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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2005, 11:53:43 am »

I know why the popes stopped coining after 983, but I remain mum.  Buy the book, when it is published.


Presumably something to do with the acession of Otto III to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire.
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2005, 12:40:48 pm »

A Letter to Robert:  How the Troops Played with Papal Coins

Dear Robert:

The popes ceased coining about the turn of the last millennium and did not begin again for a full 300 years.  Goodness had nothing to do with it.

Tolkien also says that things that ought to be remembered are forgotten.  I will tell a forgotten tale in the opening of the book.  Reference:  The Republic of St. Peter, The Birth of the Papal State, 680 – 825 by Thomas F.X. Noble, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1984, 2d printing {paper} 1991.

The story tells how a piece of the Byzantine Empire, about the size of New Jersey, succeeded from the empire and gradually formed its own government.  Venice did the same thing.  In Venice, an electorate elected Dodges; in Rome, a very similar electorate elected popes.  The Romans called their enterprise "The Republic of St. Peter" on all documents and official correspondence, such as letters surviving in the files from the Frankish kings.

I must backtrack to Gregory I [590-604], because of coins.  We know that Gregory ran all Byzantine mints in Italy.  Gregory was loyal to his emperors, but subsequent popes had ever dividing loyalties – and they controlled the money.  "Follow the money."  Gregory I also managed road repair, water supply, public health, and food welfare for his lords emperors, and they endowed him with the proper titles and authority to manage these civic functions.

Although election coins do not appear till 1268, elections were always held.   After Gregory, a group began to tamper and change election rules.  Who were they?  They were officers of the Byzantine army who had the great misfortune to be assigned to Italy.  They and their sons played extremely interesting games.

Coinage is just one of the games.


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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2005, 11:47:37 pm »

Note:  this composition appeared on the PAPAL ELECTION site created by FF, who will delete the site, because the election is over.  The composition appears on this site because it has a numismatic interest that involves more than the election of 2005.

FF

DATES ARRIVE ON PAPAL ELECTION COINS

NEVER, never ask a catholic questions about Catholicism.  They delight in giving fabulous, meaning derived from a fable, answers.  This is almost a sport.  For example, take the usual answer to questions on the meaning of IHS that one finds panted, carved, engraved and set in mosaic all over churches, crosses, and every conceivable object in a church.  The fabulous answer is:  "Oh, that means I have suffered."  You coin experts, Roman coin experts, should be able to figure out that IHS is an abbreviation in Latin for "Jesus," much like the 3-letter abbreviations COS, IMP and TRP you find on many Roman coins.

Such fabulous answers surround the first dated SEDE VACANTE, or election, coins.  The date on my example of this coin is ISSV.  I've read it means "Let it be issued" many times.  One catalog informs me it's a secret word that will turn silver into gold, provided pronounced correctly.

Sorry, it's just a date.  Here's the story.

Marcellus II, 221st pope, was elected on April 9 and died on May 1, the shortest reign of the last millennium, but not in history.  That honor goes to Stephen II, 92nd pope, who lasted about 48 hours between March 23/25, 752.

The chamberlain, Giudo Ascanio Sforza, was probably frantic, because it was his job to set up the totally unexpected election.  At the last minute, he probably ordered the mint to date the second issue of coins for that year.  The mint did not have number punches, so the staff improvised.  The year was 1555.  ISSS would have sounded like the greeting given to a bad actor or politician, so they changed the final S to a Roman numeral 5, a V.

So we get the ISSV variety of 1555 election coins.  This coin is not in Berman’s "Papal Coins."  The huge 4 volume Muntoni book says it is unique, but it’s not.  I have one, a friend of mine has one has one, and I’ve seen several in auctions.

What happened in 1978?  Coins for the election of John Paul I [Berman 3499] read MCMLXXVIII.  Coins for the election of John Paul II read SEPTEMBER MCMLXXVIII.

Now I’ve shot myself in the foot again.  Every collector of "Dates on Coins" will just "gotta" have an ISSV sede vacante issue.

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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2005, 11:59:06 pm »

IMPORT FROM ELECTION COINS -- Doomed to deletion

HOW MANY POPES?

I say John Paul II was pope No. 263.  Some will disagree, but here’s my logic and my source.

When I began collecting papal coins, I wanted to know how many men have been pope, bishop of Rome if you will.  I needed a sane way to number the coins in my collection.  The succession presents a bewildering list of names: John Paul II succeded John Paul I, who succeded Paul VI, who succeded John XXIII [the second man to use the number], who succeded Pius XII, who succeded Pius XI.  I could give the first pope to issue a coin the number 1, but even which pope first issued a coin remains a numismatic controversy.

So, I set out to number my coins in regnal order of popes, giving Peter the number 1, even though the first  64 or so popes had nothing to do with coinage.  I knew I was in trouble when "The Economist"  tagged John Paul II with an impossible numeral, something like 150th pope.  "Time" had another number; other publications promulgated similar fantisy numbers.

I asked a priest, who informed that the number of popes might be a "Mystery of Faith."  After exploring antipopes and intracies in numerology, he might be right.

I found Walsh’s 6-page table, He lined up the popes in chronological order, tagged them with an ethnic, such as Italian, Roman, African, French, German, Spanish, English, Flemish, or Polish, gave year of birth [if known], and dates of election and of death, resignation or deposition.  Most critically, for me, the left-hand column gave numbers with Peter as No, 1 and John Paul II as 263.

Michael Walsh.  "The Popes from Peter to John Paul II."  St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1980, 256 pp.  His revelation fills pages called "Chronology of the Popes," pp. 248 – 253.

The book proves to be a hop, skip and a jump history.  Walsh hits the high points, bad for a coin collector.  Popes with interesting coins often prove to have dull or unimportant reigns, which Walsh skips.  Popes with highly historical reigns often have dull or, worse, no coins.  At least 109 popes out of the 236 strike coins.

Walsh lists 35 men who claimed the papacy but are called antipopes by the Catholic Church.  The earliest was St. Hippolytus (217-235) – yes he was canonized as a martyr; the most recent, Amadeus VIII, Count of Savoy, who called himself Pope Felix V (1439-49).  Amadeus issued coins as count but none as Felix V.

I do collect coins of the antipopes who issue coins, but I call the men by their birth names.  I list one coin as "Baldasare Cosa, the antipope John XXIII (1410-1515).  Cossa’s employment may be listed as pirate and lawyer, before he found religion more profitable than his previous occupations.

While some will take exception to Walsh’s expulsion of the antipopes from his numerical order, several popes he does number cause controversy.  Prime example: Pope 92, Stephen II [March 23-25, 752].  Poor Stephen dropped dead after a less than 40 hour reign, although one of my sources generously states that his reign may have lasted as long as 96 hours.  No coins!  He was considered a pope from the 1500’s till 1960, when he was dropped from the Vatican’s official list.

Leo VIII stands as the Grover Cleveland of the papacy; he got to be pope twice [963-967, 964-965].  He only gets one number, No. 132.  Pope 133, Benedict V ruled May 22 – June 23, 964.  Leo and Benedict both have coins.

I see a solution.  If I ever throw Stephen II out of the list, I’ll give Leo VIII two numbers, so John Paul II is still the 263d pope.  More importantly, it will preserve my numbers for the popes from 1300 till now.

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« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2005, 09:59:44 am »

I set out to number my coins in regnal order of popes, giving Peter the number 1, even though the first  64 or so popes had nothing to do with coinage.

Hmm, I'll defy anyone to prove either  that Peter was ever in Rome, or that anyone was called an episkopos during his lifetime! He was certainly one of the Gang of Three who ran the Jerusalem church for a while in the years after the Crucifixion; Paul calles them 'pillars' and is a little sarcastic, but had to do what they said anyway. Then he seems to fade out, with James becoming the dominant figure in Jerusalem. There are some indications that Peter may have been a little lax regarding the Law for his taste. He also crops up as an apostolos, or travelling evangelist and church-planter, in a similar role to Paul, but working among observant Jews, while Paul crossed the line and accepted Gentiles as equal members of the community. So this may well have been his main role after being ousted from the top three. He must have had a leading role in the Jesus movement before the Crucifixion, but the accounts we have are so partisan it's probably impossible to be clear about the details. Beyond that, we can't really bve sure about anything.

So how does Peter come to be regarded as the first Pope? There's no direct evidence, but in the second half of the 2nd Century, an organised network of churches (the 'Orthodox' or 'Catholic' churches) were attempting to establish themselves as the bearers of the 'proper' version of Christianity, as opposed to everyone else. This had been building up for a couple of generations; they had already gone a long way towards reinterpreting the Scriptures in ways acceptable to the Graeco-Roman world, they had produced a series of apologists sho made it their task to try to convince the Roman authorities that they were OK, and they were strting to produce some major thinkers. Clearly, they were gaining confidence.

They now set out to do two things; to convince everyone that, firstly, only their churches had the right message, and secondly, only Christian writings they approved were to be relied on. They used the same basic technique with both. Only books associated with apostles (in the later sense, including the Twelve) or people close to them were to be trusted, even if the association had to be invented. It's at this time that we find writers claiming that Mark was writing down what he heard from Peter, and successive writers make the association between the two ever closer. In fact, Mark's portrait of Peter is so damning that it's really impossible to believe that there was any link between the two at all. At the same time, churches were only 'proper' if they could trace the origins of their leadership back to the Apostles; this is the origin of the 'Apostolic Succession'. Rome was the first city of the empire, who better to claim as its founder than the supposed leader of the Apostles? The Petrine foundation is about early church politics, not history!
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2005, 11:04:53 am »

Repost of Response on Pope Joan Discussion

I repost my research on "Pope Joan" for the education and amusement of those interested in papal coins

Repost starts
-------------------------------

Gobble, gobble.  Only a turkey that does not read would bring up the old monks’ joke about Pope Joan.  Read "The oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.D.N. Kelly [He ain’t Catholic.] Oxford University Press, oxford, 1986.  Kelly treats the legend in an appendix, pp. 329-330.  Kelly says:  "The story first appears between 1240 and 1250…The story, often embellished with fantastic details, was accepted in Catholic circles without question for centuries [Get that!]…It [the story] scarcely needs painstaking refutation today, for not only is there no evidence of a female pope at any of the dates suggested for her reign, but the known facts of the respective periods make it impossible to fit one in…Its [the story’s] kernel is generally taken to be an ancient Roman folk tale.

When in doubt of a fact about the papacy, I always read Kelly, who accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury (Michael Ramsey) on his visit to Pope Paul VI.  I have behind me in my bookcase several histories of the popes by Roman Catholics.  I fear to say they contain grosser myths than the one about a female pope.

Now, on Pope Joan—I suggest we work together on a set of medals depicting the events of her legendary reign.  The Franklin Mint will issue these in gold, silver and copper.  The set will fit right in with other Franklin Mint products.

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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2005, 03:10:03 pm »

A GOOD, GOOD, GOOD BOOK

One eternal papal problem -- they issue from 42 mints!  Three are in today's France, so they get placed in French, not Italian, books about coins.  A good book covers many of the issues of the 39 mints now in Italy.  All those mints, mostly in an area the size of the State of New Jersey.  The soft hearted fathers let every hill town crank out a penney and a nickel to foster local pride.

That good book is:  Biaggi, Elio.  MOMETE E ZECCHE MEDIEVALI ITALIANE dal sec. VIII al sec. XV {Medieval Italian Coins and Mints from the 8th Through the 15th Centuries.}  Montenegro sas Ediziioni Numismatiche di Eupremio Montenegto, Turino [Turin], Italy, 1992, 526 pages.

Mints are alphabetical from Acqui [the one in Peidmont] through Volterra.  Names and dates are given for rulers.  It's easy to use, even if you understand no Italian.  Prices are given for Fine, Very Fine and Extra Fine.  Prices are in lire -- good luck on translation into Euros, then dollars.  But the price structure for each coin is there.  A Fine costs X; a Very fine costs 1.5 or 2 times X; an XF costs 3 to 10 times X.

I did find an omission from this good book, known as Muntoni 38/39 or Ryan 14.  Pius II [1458-64] showed up in Mantua, which he did not own, with his chamberlan, one Rodrigo Borgia [1431-1503], who became Pope Alexancer VI in 1492.  Rodrigo cranked out an issue in gold duckets, whose reverses read ...D-[IE]TE MANTOVA [The Meeting at Mantua].  The local power, one Ludocivo III Gonzaga [1444-78], B. Numbers 1137-1149, had absolutely no objections to an extra gold coinage in his town.  Berman lists it as B. 379, price $4,500.  Ryan No. 14 goes for $2,000 in Fine and $4,500 in Very Fine.  Allen, you coppied John Carlin's estimate!
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2005, 05:56:43 pm »

FORGERY:  The Fear of Collectors

As I write my book on papal coins, I realize the greatness of Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn’s great work, "Medieval European Coinage…1. The Early Middle Ages 5th – 1-th Centuries."  Cambridge University Press published it in 1986, all 673 pages of it.

How does it affect my workGrierson's citation of counterfeits demands that I revise which popes issued, whom they issued with, and the very flow of the papal coinage.  Greirson tells who counterfeited what, when and sometimes-hilarious mistakes made.  When I integrate his findings into a tabular form, it may cause distress.  Collectors, who paid high prices for them, will certainly stone me.  [One collector paid a high price for an object marked "counterfeit."]

For example, of the antipope Christopher [903-904], Grierson states [p. 261] "Only forgeries known."  So, poor Christopher must be banished from numismatics, but not history.  He will possibly rate a footnote, but no mention in my text.  No Muntoni No 1 [Vol. 4, p. 143] nor CNI 1 for him.  Berman [p. 41] notes:  "It is now believed that all coins of Antipope Christopher (903-904) are counterfeit."  Good man Allen.

Stories of counterfeiting from any branch of collecting are always instructive.  Here’s a recent "Lulu" I heard about the King of Hobbies, collecting rare paintings.

The assistant curator entered the room of a great establishment and saw the benefactor and her friends, and they unveiled her gifts before the staff.   All gasped at the beauty. Lastly, an 18- by 15-inch masterpiece appeared.  All gasped doubly, especially the assistant curator.  He knew it was a fake.

Patrons are not to be offended.  The assistant curator paced the painting under perpetual "restoration."  It hung only when the benefactor visited.  Time passes.  The old man had to retire.  On the last hour of his last day, he entered the office of the head of the institution and ‘fessed up.

"How do you know for certain that the painting is a forgery," roared the great head, an expert with much standing.

"Because, in 1924, in Paris, I painted it myself," squeaked the retiree.

"Well then," quoth the head, "Leave this building forever, and take your painting with you."  The retiree did so, and the painting hung above his mantle till he died at a great age.

I know the name of the painting, the supposed artist and the real artist.  If it shows up in a  art catalog, I’m going to have some real fun.

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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2005, 04:01:54 am »

THE COIN I DESIRE MOST

It pays to advertise.  Let’s not be shy.  It is:

Papal States.  Urban VI [1378-1389].  Avignon Mint. Billon denaro [also called a half-gros].  MiterVRB’ PP SESTVS.  Rev. Patent cross. S[AN]T’ PET E P[AV]L.

Serifini 8.  Muntoni 1.  On reverse, crossed keys in quadrants two and three.

Muntoni 2, not in Serifini.  On reverse, crossed keys in quadrents one and four.

Ryan 201:1.  Berman 221.  Ryan and Berman elide the two issues into one coin.

De May. 49.  Lists Muntoni 1 and 2 as one coin.

De May then finds a real kicker.  He lists a half-gros that shows: Seated pope blessing.  VRBANVS PP SEXTVS.  Rev.  Canton cross, crossed keys in [two] cantons.  Not illustrated.  Ryan lists as 201:2; RareBerman lists as 220; no comment or price.  He asks:  "Does it exist."  Yes, Allen, it exists.  I’VE SEEN IT, AND IT’S REAL!

The half gross also lies buried in two old books.  Poey D’Avant [1858] lists it in his vol. 2, page 353 as Number 4191.  No line drawing.   Cinagli [1848] lists it as Urbano VI, Number 9, on page 35.  He calls it a grosso, Rarity 3, and found examples in 3 out of 7 collections quoted.  CNI does not list it, because that work does not cover the three Papal French mints.  Serafini does not list because the Vatican collection did not have one when he published.  Serafini is sort of the BMC of papal coinage.

Because the half-gros is impossibly rare, I desire the denaro.

The popes have issued coins that art masterpieces.  Coins that commemorate events – such as a coin commemorating the fall of Communism, Berman 3572.  Coins with saints.  Coins with buildings, roads, harbors!  Why this little coin?  I am a history oriented coin collector.

One must travel back to the events that began on April 7, 1378.  Eleven days after the death of Gregory XI, the cardinals entered the first conclave at Rome in 75 years. While it was a disorderly election, it was far less so than the affair in 1214 at Carpentras, France, when the French nobles broke in and murdered all the cardinals’ servants.  The terrified cardinals refused to meet again till 1216, when they elected a French commoner to spite the nobles.  N o rules of order existed governing papal elections.

The crowd at Rome wanted a Roman.  The next day the cardinals elected Bishop Bartolomo Pignatelli [1318-1389], who was chamberlain of the Church.  He ran the mints at Rome and Avignon as part of his job.  He was from Naples.  Just to make sure, the cardinals held a second unanimous vote.  The new pope called himself Urban VIII.

Urban alarmed the cardinals.  On September 20, 1378, 20 cardinals at Fondi elected Robert of Geneva [1342-1394], a "cousin" of the King of France, as their pope.  He called himself Clement VII.  "They crowned him with the papal tiara and all the regalia.  The [new] Camerlingo, with considerable foresight, had stolen them from Urban’s treasury." [Glasfund.  The Antipope.   P. 85.].

So began the Great Western Schism.  French historians often write that Urban was never recognized at Avignon as pope.  The extant half-gros and denaro deep six that assertion.

HERE ARE TWO COINS THAT ARE MEANINGFUL HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS.

That’s why I want the commoner of the two.

Follibus Fanaticus.

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« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2005, 09:51:14 am »

THE 7 MOST IMPORTANT REFERENCES FOR PAPAL COINS

THE 7 MOST IMPORTANT REFERENCE WORKS FOR COLLECTING AND RESEARCHING PAPAL COINS, IN MY OPPINION, ARE

1. J.D.N. Kelly.   The Oxford Dictionary of Popes.  New York, Oxford University Press, 1986. 347 pages.

Good bios of the 264 popes, 30 or so anti-popes, and one nonexistent female pope.  Kelly is head and shoulders above all other papal bios.  For example, Richard P. McBrien treats us to the legend the Alexander VI died from poison.  Alexander and his son, Cesare, exhibited classic malaria symptoms.  The poison story ranks with Pope Joan as fiction.  So much for "Lives of the Popes," by the author of "Catholicism."

2. Francesco Muntoni.  Le Monete dei Papi e degli Stati Pontifici. [The Coins of the Popes and of the Papal States.] P&P Santamaria, Rome, 1972-1973, 4 [huge] volumes.  Forni has reprinted it.

CNI omits the three French mints.  Serifini covers only the [large] Vatican collectionMuntoni covers everything, except the earliest coins, which were unknown in 1972/73.

3. Michael D. O’Hara.  "A Find of Byzantine Silver from the Rome Mint for the Period A.D. 641 – 752."  Swiss Numismatic Review.  Vol. 64, 1965, pp. 105 140,  22 plates.  A reprint exists.

Covers the earliest papal coins.

4. Allen G. Berman.  Papal Coins.  Attic Books, Ltd.  South Salem, N.Y., 1991, 255 pages, 77 pages of plates.

If you are going to price a papal coin, you need this book.  The price structure is solid.  The going rate today is 2B, 2.5 B or 0.50 B. B is the Berman price.  Not all papal coins are in this book.  Finding a "not in Berman" is my own greatest coin story.

5. Thomas F.X. Noble.  The Republic of St. Peter, The Birth of the Papal State, 680 – 825.  The University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1984, 376 pages.

How did the popes, bishops, become civil rulers?  Was there really such a state as the Republic of St. Peter?  Mr. Noble tells you how this show got started.

6. Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn.  Medieval European Coinage, 1, The Early Middle Ages (5th-10rh Centuries).  Cambridge University Press, London, 1991, 674 pages.

You can’t get anywhere with the early papal coinage without this book.  Just the explanation of counterfeits changes Muntoni’s 1972-74 picture.

7. Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini [Pius II].  Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope."  Trans., Florence A Gragg.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1959, 381 pages.

A completely delightful book.  Pius is funny.  That’s probably why I like him so much.

Cheers,

Follibus Fanaticus
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« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2005, 11:45:15 am »

I repost Robert Brenchley's review of Ryan's "Handbook of Papal Coins 1268 - 1534."

Cheers,

Follibus Fanaticus

Review starts
--------------------------------------
Robert_Brenchley
Comitia Curiata II
Procurator Caesaris
Caesar

Honi soit qui mal y pense.

Papal coin book
« on: October 15, 2005, 03:22:30 pm »   
------------------------------------------------------------------------
I promised Follibus Fanaticus that I'd do this review for him weeks ago, and I post it now with apologies; it's been a difficult few weeks!
A HANDBOOK OF PAPAL COINS
‘FOLLIBUS FANATICUS’
1989
   This is one of the very few books covering Papal coinage, and the only accessible one in English. The catalogue runs from the beginning of the Medieval Papal coinage in 1268 to the death of Clement VII in 1534. Papal coinage was also minted from 781 to 983, and it is to be hoped that these can be inserted in a future edition. The author left them out because the pricing structure was unclear to him at the time of publication, due to their rarity, but they are dealt with briefly in the introduction.
   A brief history of Papal coinage occupies the first half of the book, dealing with the Popes and the numerous changes in their coinage. Reading it makes me want to go out and buy a history of the Popes; what rivalries were there within the ‘Long Conclave of 1268-71 which rendered them unable to elect a Pope until threatened with starvation, what were the confused politics of the Great Schism really about, why did Pedro de Luna sling on to an empty title until it was said that only people on the moon thought he was Pope, and why was the antipope John XXIII ‘so bad that no Pope took the name John for over half a millennium’?
Obviously, it is not the task  of a coin catalogue to replace the history books, but no coinage can be fully appreciated without a detailed history of the period it covers. A 35-page catalogue follows, covering the issues in detail. Coins are illustrated with line drawings and seven pages of photos, but there are too few of these; the ideal catalogue would have every issue illustrated, but the economics of publishing too often prevent this.
   Overall, the book is well worth getting; the catalogue is clearly laid out and accessible; the history gives an adequate outline of a complex subject; it may ultimately be confusing and unsatisfactory, but that is the nature of brief historical introductions. If you’re interested in the subject, buy both Follibus’ book and a good history of the Popes.
   To get the book, Follibus asks that you should write a public letter on the Forum expressing a desire ‘to read or burn this book’. He asks only that you should send appropriate postage; as a guide to international rates, it cost almost $8 to send a copy to the UK.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Robert Brenchley
My gallery: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/index.php?cat=10405
Fiat justitia ruat caelum


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« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2005, 08:13:32 pm »

THE SWISS GUARD

The Swill Guard a new organization will meet on November 20 at noon for two hours just before the Ancient Club meets at John Ryan’s house in Mt. Pleasant, a neighborhood near the zoo in Washington, D.C.  At the request of a potential member, this organization will never be called a coin club.  Follibus Fanaticus resolved the difficulty with the following rules of order.

1. Because we are named after a military organization, all communications will be written in "garble-de-gook," the official language of all military organizations.  Only members will know the true meaning of messages.  For example, coins will always be called "objects."  Medals and bulla will be termed "other objects."

2. The Swiss Guard never has meetings.  It holds exercises.

3. They never look at coins.  They "examine objectives or other objectives."

4. The following message will be the only one sent in clear English.  An official version follows the message.

The Swiss Guard will meet at noon, November 20 at John Ryan’s house.  It will proceed a regular meeting of the Washington Ancient Coin Club.  Persons wishing an invitation or directions may e-mail jryan33@earthlink.net.  Follibus Fanaticus will respond with directions and instructions.  Attendees may bring up to 30 papal coins to show to the meeting.  We limited the number because some members do not want to bring many coins and because the meeting must end at about 2 pm.  The meeting will proceed thusly.  Armed with beer or a soft drink, members will sit around a table and introduce themselves.  Members may use a nom-de-plume at the meeting.  Members may buy and sell as many coins, papal or otherwise, as they wish.  At around 12:30 the great showing will begin.  The show will start with coins of Sede Vacante 1268 – 1271.  These will known as set 182/183.  Next, the narrator will call for coins of Boniface VIII, known as series 192.  As many as two series 192 coins may show up, because two of the already invited own them.  We may or may not see Sede Vacante 2005 [series 263/264] or a coin of the present pope [series 264].  The meeting will end promptly at about 1:45.

OFFICIAL VERSION {Written in Gook, the Guard’s official language}

The Swiss Guard will hold its first exercise at 12:000 hours, 11/20/05 within the calling range of the baboons [They sound like dogs.].  Instructions and orders are available at jryan33@earthlink.net. Troops may being up to thirty objects for exercise examination.  The exercise will be terminated at 13:45.  The first order is for a roll-call.  Members may call themselves by any name.  Objects and other objects may be bought and sold.  An inspection of objects from series 182/183 to series 264 will take place.


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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2005, 08:39:56 am »

NOTE NEW YORKERS [and New Jerseyiates too]

Some grouse that the Swiss Guard will meet in Washington, D.C., the Capitol of the United States, not New York, the Capitol of the World.  Follibus Fanaticus says "Cheer up," it is better than it seems.

Members of the Washington Club have accustomed themselves to traveling vast distances, by New York standards, to seek ancient coins.  They have ventured to Quarryville and  Lancaster, Pa., and to the distant Shenendoah Valley just last month.  They even saw the river, famed in songs and stories.  A jump to Baltimore, just 40 miles up the road, is a mere nothing.  Once, long ago, the club visited rebel Richmond, once the seat of a rival government.  This is 150 miles, miles mind you, south of Washington.

Those who dwell in New York and surroundings may:

1. Board an Amtrak train labeled Washington, D.C., for the price of a really cheap coin – round trip.

2. Get off at Union Station, Washington, D.C.

3. Walk through the station and, without going outside; find Metro, the Washington subway.  Only the "red" line runs under Union Station.  Board the "Red" line.  It’s $1.35.  Buy a round trip ticket to save time on the return.

4. Ride to the Cleveland Park station, "station stop" to the idiots who run Metro.  There is only one way out of this station, so you probably will not get lost.  You may take either of the two final escalators to arrive either on the east or west side of Connecticut Avenue.

5. Catch a taxi for the final mile.  It’s a humdinger.  You first go down, then up, the second highest hill in Washington, D.C.  Years ago, John Ryan bought a house atop the hill.  He has a 3 to 5 mile view depending on the weather.  The view alone is worth the trip.

6. Grab some food and a drink.  You will find good friends.

7. Coin widows are welcome.  For them we have a tour of the Nation’s second smallest National Park.  Lamont Park consists of two park benches and a street light.  It has a fascinating history involving money, guile and power.  See this wonder of nature and government.  Also, the Ingles House usually opens its doors to all visitors.  It was the 1774 home of Mr. Ingles, a banker who lent money to George Washington.  The 1774 plantation house is encased in a stucco Venetian mansion glued to it in about 1885.  It is fully restored and now serves as the offices for an old age home.

Do you or your wife watch Antique Road Show.  You are gonna love this place.  All the 188’s furniture is on site.  I hear that back in the 1880’s they burnt all that old junk from the 1770’s.

Cheers,

FF
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2005, 08:45:57 am »

I have roused the anger of Peter Spellcheck, who I hear recently got married.  I warn him that response 19 is an unedited version of the letter.  Read it under "The Swiss Guard" for the final versionb, Peter.  Congrats!

FF
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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2005, 09:38:49 am »

 THE SWISS GUARD will hold exercises.  Begin promptly at 12.oo and end 13:45, Nov 20, 2005.  Objects will be displayed.  Some will be sold  -- be early.

 
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« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2005, 09:20:14 pm »

SWISS GUARD MET


      
Re: The Swiss Guard
« Reply #1 on: Today at 11:15:00 AM »      
------------------------------------------------------------------------
About a dozen or so Swiss Guards held their first exercise yesterday at the Mt. Pleasant house of Captain FitzBattleaxe.  Refreshments included wine wine, sherry, ginger ale, cola, and Gatorade.  Humus, salsa dip, cookies, and other treats abounded.  Objects observed went from 182/183 to 263.  An other object of 256, who did not have objects, was displayed for show only.  A game of Bonkers Tarot was played with a Rider deck.  Companies Alpha and Delta both received 20 cards.  Alpha was strong 192 - 241; Delta from 241 - 263.  Winner of agone will be declared at a later time.  Rules for televised card games do not apply.  FF.
The agone began about 1 pm.  Members of a fellow organization observed the game avidly, forgetting the original purpose of the overall exercise.  Audible gasps were heard as many objects came to light.  The operation ended about 3:30.  A roster was kept.  Several participants voiced favor of a meeting in December.

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« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2005, 03:31:38 pm »

SUBJECT:  Agone report.
Date of Agone.  11/20/05
Location of Exercise: Mt. Pleasant
Number of Players: Over a dozen.

Unit members met for exercise around a round table. H Company arrived after completion.  This unit was strong in 258/263.  You may be the greatest competitor in the world, but if you’re not there, you’re no damn good.  [Old military saying]  This left the field open to Delta Company, which swept these six contests.

A 78 card Rider Tarot deck was shuffled and placed centered on the table.  Contenders exhibited an object.  The best entry gained the contender one card.  The first contest featured 182/183.  Delta Force brought the only object in that category, thus winning the hand.

Categories appeared in the following order: 182/183; 192 to 204; 258 to 263 [No one had a 263/264 or a 264.]; 3 antipapal objects; 205 to 218; [a pause at the end of Ryan’s Handbook]; 249 to 254 [from the beginning of machine struck objects to the end of the issues]; 234 to 248; and 219 to 234.  Some brought the sole object for a number, thus won the hand.  A Company offered a stunning object of 208, only to be trumped by a finer object by Delta Force.  On the object’s back, the face of St. 1, riding in a boat, was fully visible.  The exhibited object was in many ways superior to No. 9 in the M Book.  It stood alongside No. 330 in the B Book.

Contest results show that A Company won with 21 cards; Delta took out 20, from of a possible 78.  A drew better cards.  Delta total added to 267; Delta’s to 185.  Numbers on the cards, major and lesser, were used.  Ace counted as 1; page as 11; knight as 12; queen as 13; and king as 14.

Most troops had a few nice coins and one or two spectacular beauties.  Gamma Group exhibited a new object, 20 percent than the largest usual silver object of the United States that caused gasps.  Petrus, dicitur non pontifex, was pleased to get a card for that object.  Many won hands with a modest coin from a number that otherwise not show in the agone.

Follibus Fanaticus


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« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2006, 01:58:53 am »

SWISS GUARD MEETING: JANUARY 22

The Swiss Guard will meet at the Mount Pleasant location on JANUARY 22 at 14.00.  Members will be able to:

1. Display objects gathered at the New York International.
2. Buy 1 or more of 20 objects promised for the meeting by an object dealer.
3. Show and tell 20 objects from personal gatherings of objects.  We will use the Tarot Card Game, because some members found this a fun way to reward the goodness of an object.

Please respond by e-mail to Follibus Fanaticus, so Captain fitzbattleaxe can plan snacks.

Those interested in joining the Swiss Guard or just having an afternoon of talk about papal objects and other objects, please drop an e-mail to Follibus Fanaticus or Captain FitzBattleaxe.

Follibus Fanaticus
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« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2006, 01:16:24 pm »

PHILIP GRIERSON DIES AT 95

I met Philip Grierson only a few times.  Once he introduced himself to me in a Virginia coin store.  He also hosted an annual meeting for years of the Washington Ancient Numismatic Society [ANSW] at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.  I talked to him longest at a meeting of the ANSW at a private home in Virginia, and then the joke was almost on me.

Because I collect papal coins from 1300 on, the ANSW consuls figured I knew all about medieval coinage, and so I was volunteered for an hour lecture on the topic.  I prepared an outline and hand drawn flip charts.  I arrived for the 2 p.m. social hour, grabbed a beer and began to set up.

Someone steered me to an easy chair, pointed to the occupant and blurted with glee, "Oh John, do you know Phil Grierson."  There sat the published author of two huge volumes on the medieval coinage with eleven more in preparation at Cambridge University – the world’s reigning expert on the subject.  He said two things to me before the lecture: (1) Call him by his first name.  (2) He was looking forward to the lecture.  He had read my book, and I knew he disagreed with certain items in it.

My lecture was the "quick and dirty" Army type: Tell them what you’re going to tell them.  Tell them.  Tell them what you told them.  The talk also included a guessing game: Name That Mint.  The medievals usually spelled out the mint name in Latin.  {Aurelianensis = Orleans, France; Emerita = Merida, Spain; Nantivnagl [sic, on one coin at least] = Nantes, France; Turones = Tours;}  Medieval mints can also be depended on to slaughter the spelling.  I could see that Grierson enjoyed the game.

Afterwards he told me that the lecture was blunt, to the point, used good jokes and that he enjoyed it.  Then I asked him something I really wanted to know: Why did the popes stop making coins in the late 900’s.  He just knew. He told me.  I had not found the answer in tons of research.  He noted that he did not cover the topic in his first volume on medieval coins.  I told him the "secret" was safe until I published.

He seemed a happy man filled with wit.  He was doing what he liked with his life – probably the secret of his longevity.  He could get very cross, but only about numismatic subjects.  He disagreed with one and a half pages of my book.  I told him that would be covered in the book I am working on.

I did keep track of his progress through the Medieval Numismatic gossip network.  I hear several volumes of the work are in proof.  I do not vouch for the accuracy of that information.

I think he led a fruitful and productive life.  Read his work.  The section on papal coins in "Medieval European Coinage 1" is a delight.  The wit and good humor shine through.
                                                   
Follibus Fanaticus                        
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« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2006, 01:28:02 pm »

THE EIGHTH MOST USEFUL PAPAL REFERENCE

SEE:  The Papal Corner, Reply 14, for a review of references 1 through 7.

I nominate for book eight of useful books:

Michael Walsh.  "An Illustrated History of the Popes, Saint Peter to John Paul II."  St. Martin’s Press, New York.  [Great Britain: Redwood Burn, Ltd.]. 1980, 256 pages.

I call it: the Housekeeping Book.

"Illustrated" was a well-chosen word for this volume, because the pictures are well chosen, and many are in color.  Here we see the "tombstone" of Pope Pontianus [230-235], contemporary portraits of Leo III, Charlemagne, Nicholas I [858-867], Innocent III [1198-1216], John Huss [1369-1415] and Martin Luther [1472-1553].  The Luther is the from-life Lucas Cranach likeness painted in 1535. We get architectural drawings of long vanished buildings and ruins.  We also get the "art" renditions of people and events.  For example, we get a Raphael-Romano depiction of Constantine giving Sylvester I [314-335] his [completely fictitious] donation.  The artists set the scene in the old St. Peters, as it was in the early 1500’s, before it was torn down.  While other renditions exist, only this one portrays, to my knowledge, the splendor of the old church.

Yes, the pictures alone are worth the price of the book.  The historical narrative is of the hop, skip and jump type.  All Grant tells us about Gregory XIII [1572-1585], who issued more types of coins than any other pope, is that his reign was long.  I did notice that the popes who issue really great coins tend to get skipped.  This is just a nice coffee-table art book, until you reach pages 248-253.  Here we hit numismatic housekeeping pay dirt.

The six pages contain 6-column tables listing all popes, with the 34 antipopes inserted in proper chronology.  Column 1 is a pope number.  Peter is No. 1; John Paul II is 263. [Read below.]  Antipopes do not get a number.  Column 2 gives the man’s name as pope.  Column 3 gives origin. Black historians might note that Felix I and Gelasius I are described as "African," So one, maybe two, black men have reigned as pope.

Column 4 gives date of birth, where available.  Columns 5 and 6 give dates of election and death or abdication.  Popes who resigned get an asterisk; those who were murdered get a dagger.

This table has saved me countless hours.  First, I check the dates, which are often wrong on a coin holder. Also, some dealers habitually misread the Roman numeral on the coin.  Often, a rare pope comes at a common pope’s price.

Then, the chore of ordering a collection rears its head.  Popes are usually old men.  During the 1500’s 18 individuals reigned as pope, versus 5 monarchs of England and 7 Kings of France.  Consider:  Between 1644 and 1700: Innocent X is followed by Alexander VII then Clements IX and X, Innocent XI, Alexander VIII, and Innocent XII.

You need something to help order this litany of unconnected names.  I use Walsh’s numbers.  So, for Innocents X to XII, I place a small, circled number from 235 to 243 near the top of the coin envelope or flip card.  That way I can order my coins rapidly.  I do not have to worry about Innocent, The Who, succeeding Clement, The What. I am willing to entertain suggestions for a better way to order my coins.

Follibus Fanaticus


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