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Images That Inspired The Mint Master

 
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Pillar of the Community
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 Posted 12/31/2018  06:31 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
While the die design of the official circulating coins was subject to very strict rules, the design of tokens (jetons, rechenpfennige, rekenpenningen) enjoyed more freedom. Which leads automatically to the following question: what inspired the mint master and die engraver for a new piece? Numerous examples point to political situations, biblical scenes, epical stories, epical heroes. This summer I picked up a striking rechenpfennig from the great 17th century Nürnberg mint master Wolf Laufer II.



The brass piece has no date, weighs 4,63 g has a diameter of 26 mm.
The obverse shows the well known classical story of Icarus, the man who wanted to fly free as bird. The image is the moment Icarus crashes into the sea, because he went too high in the sky so that the heat of the sun melted away the wax that glued the big wings to Icarus back. It is a story about hubris, too high ambition and human modesty. But I found the Legend: IN ASTROLOGOS enigmatic.
The reverse shows a big bird of prey with an open beak fighting a beetle. The Latin legend explains what should be seen. A MINIMIS QVOQ TIMENDVM (Beware of the smallest foe). Below the signature of the master himself: WOLF.LAVFER RECH PFE

An internet search for the enigmatic IN ASTROLOGOS directly led an interesting website of the University of Glasgow "Alciato at Glasgow" containing 22 complete browsable emblem books from Andrea Alciato: https://www.emblems.arts.gla.ac.uk/...p?id=A21a104
Andrea Alciato (8 May 1492 - 12 January 1550), commonly known as Alciati (Andreas Alciatus), was an Italian jurist and writer. He is regarded as the founder of the French school of legal humanists. Below is a page from the first edition of Emblematum Libellus (1531) entitled IN ASTROLOGOS (translated as "Against astrologers"). The last sentences explain the message which applies to the time of the humanists:
Astrologus caveat quicquam praedicere. Praeceps nam cadet impostor dum super astra volat.
Let the astrologer beware of prediction. Headlong will the imposter fall, as he flies beyond the stars.




This fits well into one of the most profound cultural changes in Western civilization humanism, opposed to medieval occultism and superstition. From this start it was not too difficult to find the source of the reverse A MINIMIS QVOQ TIMENDVM. The same 1531 emblem book tells the story of the powerful big eagle and the small beatle, who wins the battle by infestation of the eggs in the eagles nest. The source of the story is the classic poet Aesop, Fables 4 "feud between the eagle and the beetle", rediscovered by the Dutch humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam, Adagia 2601, Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit (first published in 1500).
http://emblematica.grainger.illinoi...blem/A56a054.



The bottom line is that nothing is what it seems; the smallest foe can be overwhelming. The classic Greek story already recognized the powerful strategies of parasitism. Quite prophetic for human disease, centuries before the discovery of microbial parasites, pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Why Alciato chose this item in 1531 is an interesting topic of speculation. Perhaps the it applies to the emerging reformation in France. Below a picture of same emblem page in one the first editions, showing a beetle without horns. The preface of this edition is interesting, as there are connections to the mint and mint master (in bold - I wonder if Wolf Laufer II read those words):

While boys are entertained by nuts and youths by dice, so playing-cards fill up the time of lazy men. In the festive season we hammer out these emblems, made by the distinguished hand of craftsmen. Just as one affixes trimmings to clothes and badges to hats, so it behooves every one of us to write in silent marks. Though the supreme emperor may give to you, for you to own, precious coins and finest objects of the ancients, I myself shall give, one poet to another, paper gifts: take these, Konrad, the token of my love.



May be you have in your collection a token, medal or coin in which the die design could connect to the images and idea's of other emblem books. Or paintings, statues, engravings known to the mint master at his time. It would be wonderful if you post such items in this thread and fun to learn from the ideas of CCF members.

I take this opportunity to wish all CCF members a happy and healthy 2019 ! That moments of joy during the wonderful coin/medal/token collecting hobby may provide you with the ingredients of happiness.

Edited by 1c5d7n5m
12/31/2018 06:41 am
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 Posted 12/31/2018  07:33 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add scopru to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting post 1c5. Very educational
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 Posted 12/31/2018  07:39 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Well researched--thx for sharing!
"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
-----King Adz
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 Posted 12/31/2018  10:18 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add DBM to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for sharìng
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 Posted 01/02/2019  05:38 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
scopru, Spence, DBM, jbuck: thanks for your comments !

in the mean time enjoying a nice coffee and waiting for another idea for this thread
I like to connect this thread to the mysterious Brussels jeton from 1634 picturing a monkey feeding a turtle http://goccf.com/t/324013



the image on the obverse and the legend DISSIDET QUOD IMPAR EST (keep apart what is different) is linked to the Emblem Book of the Dutch poet Jacob Cats - Sinne- en minnebeelden published in 1627, a few years before the jeton was minted.



I recall the pleasure to solve the riddle of this second jeton from Brussels with help of CCF members in 2018
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 Posted 01/02/2019  11:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fascinating piece of research, 1c5d!

I showed your post to my spouse, who is retired from the library science field, and she commented that Glasgow University Library is famous (in her field) for their collection of these emblem books, and also seals from medieval & Renaissance times.

I was struggling to imagine how an engraver in Nuremberg would be exposed to the work of an Italian who was working in France. Then I saw that the emblem book in your link was published in Augsburg in 1531. For this we can thank the invention of the printing press, and the explosion of this technology across Europe in the 16th century, or perhaps Laufer's access to the images would have been impossible. Before the printing press, books were painstakingly copied by hand, very expensive, and generally only accessible to the aristocracy or clerics.

I do not have such a good example as yours, where at least the obverse imagery of the token is copied quite precisely from the Alciato emblem.

However, as you know, I have a collection with representations of saints on coins, and these representations are generally fashioned off of more generic imagery (iconography) of the period in paintings or statues.

I will see what I can post that might be of interest.
Edited by tdziemia
01/02/2019 11:20 am
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 Posted 01/02/2019  11:27 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I will see what I can post that might be of interest


that would be great tdziemia - looking forward to the example you post
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 Posted 01/02/2019  2:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The most widely produced book from early medieval times in Western Europe is believed to be the Book of Hours, a devotional book (typically the size of a mdern paperback) containing biblical verses and prayers. These were handmade manuscripts, produced on commission, usually for members of the aristocracy.

A Book of Hours intended for a woman would include the Hours of the Virgin, a cycle of prayers related to Mary. Versions that were "illuminated" would contain artwork in addition to the text.

Here is an illumination from a Book of Hours produced in Paris in the 1230s showing the Biblical scene of the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells here she has been chosen to have a divine child (this is the event to which the Christian prayer "Hail Mary" pertains). Note that Mary appears to have been disturbed while reading her Book of Hours


Naples began issuing both gold and silver coins during the reign of Charles I of Anjou (1266-1285) bearing a scene of the Annunciation (they were called respectively a saluto d'oro and saluto d'argento). I have a saluto d'argento, but it is slabbed and has a darkish patina so I will post a clearer photo of the same type:


Similarities in the scenes are evident (the lily was a symbol of purity or chastity). I don't know if Charles used an Italian artisan as mintmaster, or brought someone from France. Certainly this representation of the Annunciation is well established in Northern European art by the mid-1200s. I've been less able to find an example from Italy this early.

Edited by tdziemia
01/02/2019 2:23 pm
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 Posted 01/02/2019  4:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply


amazing example, tdziemia: comparing the images one can observe an outspoken relationship between the influential Book of Hours with its splendid miniature and the reverse of the Milanese coin

The saluto d'argento is a real coin, so perhaps it is a good idea to move this thread to the General Numismatic Discussion Forums / Main Coin Forum ?
Edited by 1c5d7n5m
01/02/2019 4:20 pm
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 Posted 01/02/2019  4:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
perhaps it is a good idea to move this thread to the General Numismatic Discussion Forums / Main Coin Forum
Done.
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 Posted 01/02/2019  4:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I do not have any tokens that I will be able to discuss in this theme, but have more coins, so that sounds like a smart idea.
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 Posted 01/02/2019  4:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
thanks !

and you are extremely fast, jbuck !

with the reallocation of this thread, we might see more examples from different area's of numismatics, trying to imagine what the mint master saw in his time; the challenge to produce a striking image on a small surface of metal
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