The Knights of St. John, Malta. Philippe Villiers de l’Isle Adam. 1530-1534.
|Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 188. Estimate CHF25000.
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009.
Sold For CHF32000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
Zecchino (Gold, 3.49 g 6). .F.PHS.DE.LILE ADA/MP/.M.HOS.HIEM (last reading upwards) Grand Master kneeling to left, grasping staff bearing the flag of the Order given to him by St. John, nimbate and standing to right Rev.
.DA.MIHI.VIRTVTEM..COTRA.HOSTES.TVOS. Christ standing facing with nine stars (4. l., 5 r.), all within mandorla. Azz. 654 var. Fr. 1. var. Schembri -. Apparently unpublished
. Of the greatest rarity, probably unique - the first zecchino of standard types to be struck on Malta
. Nearly extremely fine.
This fabulous coin very neatly completes the gold coinage of Philippe Villiers de l’Isle Adam, the last Grand Master to rule in Rhodes and the first on Malta. He was elected in 1521 on Rhodes, just prior to the long expected attack of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, which came in the summer of 1522. As part of the preparations for the siege the Knights struck gold ducats of the usual type, very similar to those struck in preceding reigns (note especially that St. John is named on the obverse; see, for example, lot 48 in my catalogue of the coinage of the Knights, LHS 99, and compare it to lots 38-40 and 45-46). Those in the name of de l’Isle Adam are often incorrectly ascribed to Malta. This coin differs from them by not identifying St. John on the obverse; his name has been replaced by de l’Isle Adam’s title as Grand Master of the Hospitallers reading upwards, an arrangement that is paralleled by what is found on all the zecchini that were struck by de l’Isle Adam’s successors (see LHS 99, 54 for a zecchino of Pietrino del Ponte, 1534-1535, that was struck from dies that were probably cut by the same engraver who made the dies for this coin). As such, we can be absolutely sure that this coin was minted on Malta and was carefully redesigned in order to differentiate it from all the earlier gold zecchini of the Knights.