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    Description

    1986 Pair of Christopher Columbus-Sephardic Medals from Magnes Museum. A pair medals, silver and bronze, each 57 mm, silver 120.5 gm, serial number 55, bronze 97.0 gm, serial number 110, with original cases of issue from Medallic Art Co. Dies signed on each side by Paul Vincze, one of America's foremost medallists, designed the pieces. The obverse shows Columbus' ship with date 1492 and three Sephardic friends who helped him make his historic voyage: Abraham Zacuto, Luis de Santangel, and Don Isaac Abravanel. According to a 1986 New York Times article:

    "Santangel was a member of a noble Spanish family who served as comptroller-general to Ferdinand and Isabella. He urged them to back Columbus's expedition and helped to give them the wherewithal to do so by furnishing a loan of nearly 5 million maravedis. Mr. Abravanel was a distinguished biblical scholar, philosopher and statesman who served as treasurer to King Alfonso V of Portugal. After Alfonso's death in 1481, he entered the service of Ferdinand and Isabella. He, too, spoke in Columbus's behalf and loaned the royal treasury 1+ million gold ducats to finance the war with Granada in 1491-92. ... Mr. Zacuto was one of the leading scientists of his day. Among other things, he served as court astronomer and royal mathematician in Portugal. He drew up astronomical tables which enabled sailors to calculate latitudes without recourse to the sun's meridian and also to determine solar and lunar eclipses with accuracy. These tables saved Columbus and his crew from almost certain death when hostile natives confronted them in Jamaica. Knowing that a lunar eclipse was imminent, Columbus told the natives that he had power over the moon and sun and would permanently deprive them of light if anyone was harmed."

    The reverses show the gentlemen advising Ferdinand and Isabella at court, with date 1486 in exergue. Both pieces are as issued, Choice Mint State or finer. A wonderful and historic duo of medals documenting


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Dates
    September, 2008
    17th-18th Wednesday-Thursday
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