Numismatic and History Discussions > Medieval, Islamic and Crusader Coins

The Papal Corner

(1/62) > >>

Follibus Fanaticus:

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 rector…had 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.


Follibus Fanaticus

Can you post a photo of this grosso ?

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

Follibus Fanaticus

P.S. For more on papal, see my soon to be written article on the San Fransisco ANA under shows.

Follibus Fanaticus:
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.
Follibus Fanaticus


Follibus Fanaticus:

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.

Follibus Fanaticus


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version