Gold Scudo

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What is a Scudo d'Oro?

The scudo, more specifically, the scudo d’oro was a type of gold coin once used by a number of Italian and Venetian territories during the early to mid-1500s and was a coin that bore a strongly similar resemblance (and namesake) to other gold coins, among them the French ecu, and he Spanish escudo whose names were all taken from the Latin phrase scutum, meaning shield. A very common coin by the time of the 16th century, the name was derived from the fact that the earliest prototypes of the coins bore the symbol of the realm’s escutcheon, or coats of arms, typically depicted as a shield with symbols. Originally minted as a gold coin which was used throughout much Italy as well as its neighboring countries, it was later minted alongside silver coinage, called scudo d’argento to differentiate it from the gold scudo d’oro.[1]

The most common mention of the scudo d’oro coins come from Venetian annals where it was used alongside along with Venetian ducato, to which it became synonymous due to its having ‘equal’ worth despite a slight variance in the weight and gold purity of the two coins.[2] The scudo d’oro is a roughly pre-early modern coin that is characterized by its depiction of a shield emblazoned with a symbol (which varies depending on the area of usage and mintage) as well as a universally impressed equilateral cross on the obverse or reverse of the coin, which also varied in the type, style, and detail.

Made from .986 fine gold and weighing in at some 3.14 to 4 grams depending on the type (as there were many scudi d’oro minted throughout Europe at the height of its production), it was one of the most commonly used coins for regular international transactions. Later examples of scudo d’oro, especially those that were produced in Italy as well as the Papal States later did away with the shield symbolism and replaced with either busts of rulers, mythological figures, or Christian iconography to best reflect the type of function or the place of origin of the coin. Scudo d’oro coins are of high interest to numismatists and collectors owing to its vast diversity of designs, having been used and minted by more than one country at a given time, and used almost simultaneously with every other variant as well as with already preexisting gold coinage from other countries or domains.[3]

By the middle of the 1600s, the scudi d’oro’s popularity somewhat declined due to the introduction of silver coinage; however its production did not cease. Despite the already pre-existing gold coins of the time (i. e. French ecu, Spanish escudo), non-Venetian and non-Italian nations also minted their own versions of scudi d’oro, or otherwise patterned their own gold coins to match the gold scudi. Owing to the fact that pre-early modern coins sharing a similar characteristic or value would usually be referred to as whatever local moniker a realm had for their own coinage, many examples of non-Venetian or non-Italian scudi d’oro exist, which, in all respects are, and are not strictly scudi d’oro.

Collectors and investors in gold coins show more interest in the various scudi d’oro of the Venetian and Italian (Papal States included) type owing to their rarity. Today, both ‘legitimate’ gold scudi, and any other gold coin lucky enough to be catalogued or named as one despite being another ‘specie’ entirely are highly sought after by numismatists and gold investors alike.

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Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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