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The Papal Acquisition of Ferrara

5611915. SOLD $975

ITALY, Papal (Papal state). Clement VIII. 1592-1605. AR Testone (30mm, 9.40 g, 6h). Ferrara mint (though engraved at Rome). Dated 1598. Bust left, wearing piviale, with hands clasped in prayer before crucifix to left / Sts. Peter, holding key and gospel, and Paul, holding sword, standing facing; between them coat-of-arms surmounted by tasseled gallero. MIR 1512/1; Muntoni 156; Berman 1486. Deep cabinet toning. Good VF. Exceptional for issue.


Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 81 (30 November 2014), lot 446.

The illustrious line of the house of d’Este, the Dukes of Ferrara, ended abruptly when Duke Alfonso II died in October 1597 without naming an heir. The seat was claimed by Alfonso’s cousin, Cesare d’Este, a claim which was backed by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, but this claim was not recognized by the Pope. In 1598, the Papal state assumed direct control over the formerly independent duchy, and the governance of the territory was assumed by cardinal legate Paolo Aldobrandini.

This exceptional type was struck in 1598 and represents the first Papal coinage for the mint at Ferrara. The obverse depicts a unique portrait of Clement VIII in prayer before a crucifix, while the reverse bears the coat of arms of the cardinal legate Aldobrandini. The dies were likely engraved in Rome and sent to Ferrara.