Malta (1568-72) zecchino Fr-6
This specimen was lot 4133 in Goldberg sale 41 (Beverly Hills, May 2007), where it sold for $2,500. The catalog description noted, "Malta. Zecchino, ND. Rhodes, Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Peter (Pierre) Del Monte, 1568-1572. Obv: Venetian ducat type. Ruler kneeling before St. John. Leg: F.PETRVS DE MONTE MP Reverse: Venetian ducat type, Christ standing. Leg: DA MICHI VIRVTEM CONTRA HOSTES TVO. NGC graded AU-55. Malta, was the home of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Originally, the order was founded to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. As religious fervor waned, and the Moslems gained control of Jerusalem, the knights were left occupying just the island of Malta." The rather gruesome image of the head of the prophet on a platter appears on a number of Maltese silver coins of the early modern period. Severed heads were likely a familiar sight in Malta in the 1550's as the island endured a long siege from Turkish attackers. Grand master Jean de la Valette's heroic efforts in fending off the besiegers led to the main town being renamed for him, Valetta. Ferdinand von Hompesch was the last grand master of the knights of Malta before the Order was evicted from the island by Napoleon. The British in turn evicted the French but never returned the island to the Order, retaining it as a colony until 1964. The Order today runs charity hospitals in Europe and is headquartered in Rome. This ducat is more or less a copy of the contemporary Venetian ducats.
Specification: 3.5 g, .986 fine gold, this specimen: 3.39 grams, 21.71 mm diameter.
Catalog reference: Fr-6.
- Friedberg, Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World, From Ancient Times to the Present, 7th ed., Clifton, NJ: Coin and Currency Institute, 2003.