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Old Nov 13, 2009, 06:50 AM   #1
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Questionable Venetian Coins


I have a puzzlement. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to acquire a total of six examples of a Venetian "ducat" I was led to believe was part of a hoard of Venetian coins found somewhat recently (no, I don't have any other information other than that). Here are three examples, in different states of wear, of the six and all six come from the same pair of dies.

Italian States-Venice, Venetian Duke of Crete, in the name of Antonio Venier as Doge (1382-1400), Gilt Imitative Ducat, Aegean Island Mint (Possibly Chios)
Doge kneeling left before nimbate St. Mark standing right, both holding pendant flag between them, D / V / X in center field
. SIT . T . XPE . DAT ' : O ' : TV-REGIS . ISTE . DVCAT ' .
Christ, nimbate, standing facing within oval and surrounded by stars, book of Gospels in left hand, right hand raised in benediction
Plain Edge
21mm, 2.54g, Silver with Gold overlay
Type of Paolucci 37.1

Note: Alan Stahl, in his phenomenal book, "Zecca, The Mint of Venice in the Middle Ages", on pp.235-242 discusses the problem of counterfeiting of ducats. Especially interesting is the section on pp.241-2 about the Venetian Duke of Crete and the acknowledgement of the problems of gilt ducats circulating on par with true ducats. The Chalkis Hoard of Torneselli contained 4% of forgeries of Antonio Veneri, along with 2% of Michele Steno (1400-1413) and 1% of Tomaso Mocenigo (1414-1423).

Some notes - the flans are all different, with different striations in the fields. The edges on all of them are clipped. They appear to be and ring as though they are of good silver. The weight range of the six is 2.52g to 2.57. Venetian ducats, however, are in the 3.50g range. Venetian grossi (silver) are completely different design and are around 1.97g during the reign of Antonio Venier. So...what are these? Modern fakes painstakingly produced to look like imitation ducats with gilding? I've not seen any other examples outside of these six pieces in the past five or so months. Here is an example of a debased Chios mint ducat for comparison.

CRUSADER.GREECE.Island of Chios or uncertain Aegean area.Debased gold Ducat
( 3.39g, 22mm, 9h).
Struck in imitation of Venetian ducat after Doge Andrea Dandalo ( AD 1343-1354) but with blundered legends and letters sideways or retrograde.
AvNv DAKDVIO DVX S N VEIETI, Doge kneeling before St.mark.
Reverse.SITT XPE DAT O TV - K(retrograde) OIO ISTE DVCAT, Christ standing in mandorla surrounded by nine stars.
Good very fine,obverse struck from rusty die.Obverse soft strike.
Image courtesy Pavlos S. Pavlou in his VCoins store.

And now here is an example, from the same pair of dies (!) of an official mint product of Venice:

Image courtesy Cayón Auction, June 2009, Lot 873.

The description does not list the weight, so no help there. Interesting though - the beading, which is sharp on most of mine, is missing on the gold specimen. So, is there someone out there producing fake Venetian products and dispersing them saying they came from a hoard? Is the gold example authentic? I haven't run across any fake reports of Venetian coins this year, so I'm stumped.

--Zach Beasley
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Last edited by BeastCoins : Nov 23, 2009 at 01:51 PM.
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