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Question On Biaggi Attributions, Duchy Of Ferrara Circa 1400

 
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 Posted 12/14/2019  5:45 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I have a minor theme in my collection of Duchy of Ferrara, a place which minted coins only from 1344 to 1597 (technically it only became a duchy in 1471). Most often I see coins from this era attributed via Biaggi or CNI, occasionally Varesi or MIR. I only have access to CNI.

In the late 14th to early 15th century, the largest denomination was the "marchesino," a silver coin of about 1.1 grams. As best I can tell, the marchesinos of Niccolo II (1361-88) and Niccolo III (1393-1441) are nearly identical, which makes them difficult to properly attribute. For both, the obv legend reads: NIChOL MAR ChIO (last 4 letters in center)
Rev legend: DE FERARI A (A in center).

I already have a marchesino that was attributed by the seller as Niccolo III. It has a retrograde N in the name NIChOL:


According to CNI, the retrograde N is ONLY seen on the marchesinos of Niccolo III (Vol.X, p.422 #1-2).

For Niccolo II, CNI lists 6 varieties, and all but 1 has a normal N (Vol.X, p.419-420 #1-6).

But when I do an internet search on items attributed by auction houses, I see this pattern: coins with retrograde Ns are generally attributed to Niccolo III, but coins with normal Ns are attributed to both. Here is an example of a coin with a normal N, but attributed by the seller as Niccolo III:


So, my question is simply whether Biaggi agrees with CNI: Niccolo II has a normal N in NIChOL (I believe this is #744 in Biaggi), but Niccolo III has a retrograde N (#747). If Biaggi has other varieties, I would be interested to know.

Thanks in advance to anyone who has Biaggi
Edited by tdziemia
12/15/2019 5:35 pm
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 Posted 12/14/2019  8:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I wish I could help, Ted. Alas, this seems like a job for Spence or another medieval specialist.

While I cannot help with retrograde "N"s, I can state that these coins have Spenciner type 4, subtype d "A"s...perhaps more properly termed "Spenciner 4.d". (I hope Dave will correct me if I'm wrong in that assessment)
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 Posted 12/14/2019  8:28 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Bob. I know at least one collector out here who's got Biaggi, and since you named him, I'm gonna point out the wild and crazy L on these coins, though I doubt he would miss them
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 Posted 12/14/2019  9:56 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice coin. I agree with Bob, Dave is the one that most like knows about this.
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 Posted 12/14/2019  10:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, guys.

Having met a lot of my goals on 16th/17thcentury Poland in 2019, I am now looking at pushing back in time in other areas I collect (Brabant, Ferrara).

Yeah, I think I caught somethin' bad from CCF this year.

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 Posted 12/15/2019  6:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ted, sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I'm always happy to help with information from Biaggi because it was such a bear for me to purchase. It is funny that you mention the the shape of the letter L, because at least if you follow Biaggi, then this is the key (as opposed to the shape of the letter N).

First a little context from Biaggi. Nicolo II only issued coins in two sizes, the larger Marchesino and the smaller Quattrino. On the other hand, Nicolo III issued these two denominations plus three others. You are correct that the Marchesino is the largest in size for both Kings. You are also correct that the inscriptions are virtually identical between the two on the Marchesinos. Both coins are the same size (18 mm diameter) and weight (1.15 g). The Biaggi attributions are #744 and 747.

For inscriptions on the NII obv, it is NIChOL.MAR plus ChIO around the middle. On the NIII obv, it is NIChOL'.MAR plus ChIO around the middle. The two coins have identical inscriptions on the rev: .DE.FE.RA.RI. plus a Gothic letter A with 4 dots in the center. Therefore, according to Biaggi, the only difference is the apostrophe after the letter L on the NIII. If this is true, then I would attribute both coins pictured to NIII and ignore whether the N is forwards or retrograde. Can you maybe add a pic or two of coins attributed to NII and let's see if they also have that apostrophe?

From a letterform standpoint, the apostrophe seems to intersect with the foot of the letter L. And yes, that is wicked cool in my book.
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 Posted 12/15/2019  10:04 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks very much for the reply, and I think this helps explain my confusion ... and perhaps not only mine.

CNI makes a distinction between the Ns (as I mentioned earlier) and the large A, but not the Ls. In the description of marchesini for both Niccolos, it just gives an L in NIChOL followed by a dot, never an apostrophe. It does, however, show an apostrophe after the L on the denari of Niccolo III. Additionally it makes this comment on the large gothic A (my translation from the Italian on p.421): "To Niccolo II are attributed the marchesini with a gothic A identical in shape to those of Alberto V (editorial comment: Alberto was the duke between the two Niccolos); While marchesini having As that are more elegantly shaped, and which seem less ancient, are attributed to Niccolo III."

In a 2016 Varesi auction, coins attributed to both rulers were sold. Lots 184 and 185 were attributed as Niccolo II, Biaggi 744:



Lot 187 was attributed as Niccolo III, Biaggi 747:


Clearly the N and the As (everywhere, not just the large one) are different on the third coin. The Ls are also slightly and subtly different: in the third photo, the horizontal flourish on the L passes over the main vertical member. On the first two, it passes behind. But unless I am missing something, I would not call it an apostrpohe on the third, but not on the first two.
Last but not least, on the third coin, the C is gothic, with a thin vertical line closing the opening. This is listed as a specific variant for Niccolo III in CNI. It does not appear on the first coin in the thread.
I can find coins from other large, reputable firms (Kunker) that do not follow suit with the Varesi attributions.



Edited by tdziemia
12/16/2019 06:30 am
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 Posted 12/15/2019  10:49 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I just found a similar series of bolognini (from Bologna, of course, which is just down the road from Ferrara) with a similar time evolution of the gothic A, coupled with the Ns. Will post tomorrow.
And no I didn't bring up this subject because of your recent publication ... quite a coincidence, though

Edit. Here is the Bologna series (same auction, lots 164, 166, 167):
Bolognino 1195-1337:


Bolognino 1350-54:


Bolognino 1360-1450 (at which point Bologna is a Papal State):
Edited by tdziemia
12/16/2019 06:52 am
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 Posted 12/16/2019  07:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Ok yes interesting. It seems like all of the Marchesinos of Ferrara have the apostrophe so I guess that isn't a good way to distinguish. Sorry that I can't be more helpful.

For the Piccolo and Grosso coins of Bologna, I do note that the design element of a Gothic letter A surrounded by 4 balls predates its use by Ferrara, with examples issued by the Bolognese Republic (AD 1191 to 1337). With Biaggi as my sole source of information, it was Nicolo II that initiated this for Ferrara.
"If you climb a good tree, you get a push."
-----Ghanaian proverb

"The danger we all now face is distinguishing between what is authentic and what is performed."
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 Posted 12/16/2019  07:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the time you've invested.

I think the best answer at this point is there can be different attributions of the same coin by knowledgable experts, depending on whether CNI or Biaggi is used. Not a satisfying result for someone who is trying to have an example of each in their collection

The second coin posted in my original post was attributed by Kunker as Niccolo III, but as far as I can tell, it's identical to coins Varesi is attributing as Niccolo II.





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