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    A Near-Choice Relic from the Dawn of the Age of Discovery

    Manuel I (1495-1521) gold 10 Cruzados (Portugués) ND (c. 1498-1502) MS62 NGC, Lisbon mint, Fr-20 var. (end of legend), MEC VI-1090 var. (1499; same), Gomes-73.01 var. (same), JS-E1.1 var. (same), Trigueiros, "Inventário dos Portugueses de ouro do reinado de D. Manuel I, 1499-1521" (Revista Portuguesa de Numismática 31, no. 1, March 2014) Type PT 1.01.02, Subvariety EMA.02 (misdescribed as having a R in PORTVGΛLIE). 35.38gm. Variety with POTVGΛLIE spelling on obverse, and legend ending IИ: Λ: D: GVI. A coin whose name would echo down the ages and inform many of the most prestigious gold coins struck across the European continent for much of the next century--perhaps more familiar to modern numismatists from its derivative Portugalöser, a synonym for a piece of 10 Ducats weight. Lavishly struck with the utmost attention paid to the measuring of its details, down to each letter of its very long inscription, its quality is instantly stunning. Fine flow lines fill the recesses of the fields, while virtually choice luster and well-centered designs could hardly be more ideal. Likely the only imperfection left by the striking process is a die shift on the reverse, a slight disturbance in the obverse denticles around 12 o'clock noted for completeness, though in no way indicative of past mounting. This is only the second specimen from these dies we have been able to locate--a previous example certified AU53 by PCGS realized the equivalent of nearly $60,000 in December 2016. Existing very much on the cusp of choice condition, and leagues above most other survivors, we have no doubt that this coin will garner plenty of attention from collectors.

    Few coins can be said to embody the dawn of the Age of Discovery more than the gold Portugués do ouro of King Manuel I. Struck from Guinean gold provided by the explorations of Vasco da Gama, the date of introduction for the new type has proven a source of debate. Damião de Gois, in his Chrónica de El-Rei D. Manuel of 1566, suggested that they were first minted in 1499 for Pedro Alvares Cabral to take on his voyage to India in 1500 (which led to the "discovery" of Brazil), whereas Gaspar Correa, in his Lendas da India, refers to "portugueses" on several occasions given by Vasco da Gama during his first voyage to India. The coin's legends themselves, however--a guarantor to the Portugués' legitimacy and fineness--suggests a date closer to 1499, listing Manuel's titles as King of Portugal and the Algarves, of the Lands before and beyond Africa, Lord of Guinea and the Conquest, Navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India. In his own work, Asia, João de Barros explains that "He [Manuel] did not assume such a title lightly or by chance, but with much action, justice, and prudence; with the arrival of Vasco da Gama and, particularly, of Pedro Alvares Cabral, he took possession of everything they had discovered and what was granted and given to him through the Sovereign Pontifs."

    Barros' sentiment, encapsulated further in his statement that Manuel and his predecessors "had the conquest of the infidel in mind," rings all the more true with the motif of the cross of the Order of Christ circumscribed with the slogan In hoc signo Vinces, a reference to Eusebius of Caesarea's famous account of the vision and conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who saw a cross descend from the heavens along with a voice that beckoned "By this sign, thou shalt conquer." The motto very much became the rallying call of Portugal's territorial expansion, seen at the time as a furtherance of the Crusades intended to expel Muslim rule from the Holy Land.

    Ex. Schweizerischer Bankverein Auction 37 (January 1995, Lot 2400)

    From the Paramount Collection

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2021
    25th-27th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
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