Three Very Rare Genoese Half Ducats
ITALY, Genova. Tommaso di Campofregoso.
|CNG 90, Lot: 2278. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1900. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Doge, first tenure, 1415-1421. Pale AV Half Ducat (21mm, 1.77 g, 6h). Uncertain mint in the Black Sea region. S/L/Λ/V/R/Є/T/I D/V/X T DVX IΛNVЄ, St. Laurentius standing right and Doge kneeling left, holding banner between them / SIT T XPЄ : DΛT : QV T PЄ(inverted Q)IS ISTЄ DVC, Christ standing facing, raising hand in benediction and holding Gospels, surrounded by mandorla containing nine stars. CNI III -; cf. Ives pl. XI, 1 (Chios); cf. Papadopoli (Castellani) 16095 (Chios) and 16172 (half ducat attributed to Pera); cf. Schlumberger pl. XIV, 13 (Chios) and pl. XVII, 22 (Pera); cf. Gamberini 370 (half ducat attributed to Pera) and 397 (Chios). VF, rough strike. Very rare.
Based on the obverse legend, this coin belongs to the period of Tomaso di Campofregoso's first tenure as Doge. The careful production of this coin, with its complete legends, good centering, and somewhat better style overall suggests that it was struck prior to the Milanese takeover in Genoa, a time when the colonial coinage of Genoa gradually became cruder. The later issues of Campofregoso and his successors are quite crude.
This coin weighs exactly half of 3.54 g, the maximum standard weight of a traditional Venetian Ducat. It appears to have been struck at one of the Genoese-controlled areas in the Black Sea area, where the local needs of commerce required such coins to be struck.
INTRODUCTION TO GENOESE IMITATIONSThe development of Genoa as a commercial empire began shortly after its establishment as a self-governing commune in the early 11th century. During the First Crusade (1096–1099), the city increased its power and influence by providing transport and support to the crusaders. At the sieges of Antioch in 1098 (where the Genoese fleet blockaded the city), and Jerusalem in 1099, Genoese troops provided assistance. As a result of the city’s support, Genoa acquired lucrative and favorable commercial treaties and alliances, as well as part-ownership of the important Levantine port cities of Arsuf, Caesarea, and Acre. Genoa also controlled a large portion of the trade between the Byzantine Empire, Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, Armenia, and Egypt.
During the thirteenth century, Genoa became the pre-eminent economic power in the Western Mediterranean, and, along with Venice, its chief rival, controlled the Mediterranean slave trade. Because it played a significant role in the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) and its support of the newly established Latin Empire, Venice gained control of a large portion of the commerce in the eastern Mediterranean. In order to counteract Venice and regain control of the commerce, Genoa allied with the Empire of Nicaea. In return, Genoa would assist the Nicaeans in recapturing Constantinople. In 1261, Nicaean troops took the Byzantine capital. Genoa was now granted free trade rights in the Latin Empire, as well as contol of ports and way stations in the Aegean. Chios and Lesbos, as well as Izmir, also came under the control of Genoa.
At the same time, Genoa began to expand its reach into the Black Sea area. Having received the right to trade there, Genoa made it an important area of trade by bringing a number of towns under their control, including Cembalo (mod. Balaklava), Sudaq (mod. Sudak), Vosporo (mod. Kerch), Tana (mod. Azov), Matrega (mod. Taman), Mapa (mod. Anapa), Bata (mod. Novorossijsk), and Ginestra (mod. Odessa). One of these towns was the former city of Theodosia, which the Genoese renamed Caffa and made their regional headquarters.
By the fifteenth century, however, Genose control in the Crimea declined as that of the Ottomans increased. While Genoa lost most of its commercial bases, some of the cities retained small Italian minority populations well into the twentieth century. The loss of its eastern colonies created a deep economic crisis for Genoa, becoming the catalyst for its eventual decline as a major European power. Consequently, Genoa shifted its interests to Spain and established flourishing communities in Cadiz and Lisbon. It was here that one of Genoa's expatriates, Christoffa Corombo (Christopher Columbus), was able to seek support for his quest of a western route to Asia and its spices.