Like a Box of Chocolates
To paraphrase Forest Gump, coin collecting is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna find. I find this especially true of the Heritage weekly world coin auctions. Sorting out all of the consignments that Heritage gets into their various auction formats must take quite a bit of time and when it comes to world coins, I doubt if all the people involved are experts in all coins across all of coin minting history. Still, I am surprised to find the occasional scarce variety pop up in the weekly auctions. Late last year I found a scarce pillar dollar, one of the difficult date/assayer combinations in the 1760-1771 Mexico City 8 reales series (Gilboy R2, 25-50 pieces known). This one is a straight graded AU with good eye appeal that replaces a rather ugly details graded one that took me years to find.
In a weekly coin auction this year I found a really special coin that just happens to be related to the pillar dollars that I focus on. And it's a pretty important coin in general for those of us interested in coin imagery (as in the images depicted on coins as opposed to coin photography).
1684 ducato of the Kingdom of Naples (and Sicily). The obverse shows the bust of Charles II, ruler of the Spanish Empire which, at this time, included the Southern portion of Italy and the island of Sicily. The reverse has the legend VNVS NON SVFFICIT (one is not enough) which was previously seen on medals and printed works of art as VNVS NON SVFFICIT ORBIS (one world is not enough), and depicts a pillar surmounted by a crown and two hemispheres of the globe. The initials on the reverse are for the mint official Andrea Giovane and assayer F. Antonio Ariani. On the obverse, the initials under the bust are for the engraver Giovanni Montemein.
Earlier depictions of the two globes theme are not as geographically representative of the New and Old Worlds as we see on this coin. The earliest example that I have found is from a medal commemorating the union of the French King Francis II and Mary, Queen of the Scots from no earlier than 1558. Another example is a medal of Francis I, with a date of 1515 but likely produced in the 17th Century, showing one earthly globe juxtaposed with a celestial globe. It seems unlikely that Francisco Hernández Escudero was unaware of these precedents when he designed the iconic pillar dollar in 1729, a coin that would become so successful as a trade dollar across the globe.
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