Ian Fenn's Blog

16 Jan 2017

Book Review; Medieval European Coinage Vol 12 Italy(I) (northern Italy.

Medieval Coins | Ian Fenn


This book goes on sale in the USA at the end of the month.  Living in Europe I have had my copy for almost a month.  At US$265.00 this book is, IMHO, a worthwhile book. 1134 pages and very heavy. It’s the fourth book of a 17-volume series of books. The first volume (vol 1) was published in 1986. As one person commented to me at last year’s summer seminar it is quite possible the whole series won’t be completed until many of us old-fellas have departed this existence. This volume is the first of the four published volumes (vols. 1, 6, 14 & 12) that I have had any experience with. 

Volume 12 is a huge work and will likely be regarded as the standard reference throughout this century and probably into the next for Northern Italy. Although I have had the book for a month I am nowhere near finishing reading it. It is academically written, and as such it is well referenced. The authors William Day,jr., Michael Matzke and Andrea Soccocci have ordered the chapters by region and minting authority. My interest being in Venice, Florence, and Genoa I have focused my reading to those sections of the book. What is refreshing is the book relates the interconnections between the different minting authorities and the coins they produced. For me there was some frustration as they limited such discussions to northern Italy, so leaving out some other closely related mints.  Don’t take my frustration as criticism; given the size of the book lines had to be drawn, and my frustration came from wanting to fully follow the threads the Authors were laying out for me.  At nearly US$300.00 in price this book is worth every cent. It is not a coffee table book, it is of interest to medieval coin collectors and it covers the regions of Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and greater Veneto areas that have had significant and long lasting influence over the evolution of numismatics . 

It includes a catalog of Northern Italian coins.  Be warned it is not  like the standard offerings we see for modern coins. It is much more an academic work. I am sure those who know of this long planned and slowly executed series will be adding it to their library.  I plan to add the other three published volumes to my Library by the end of this year



Level 6

Sounds like a wonderful set of books! I'd love to go to Venice, Italy someday! Thank for sharing this one!


Level 5

Sounds like a great set of books. Love the feedback too.

For those who get a chance to visit Venice, the great numismatic gem of a collection resides in the City Museum. The collection consists of what is basically a MS set of the entire coinage of the Doges of Venice. I stumbled on it accidentally when in the Museum to view the traveling Klimt painting exhibition a few years ago. After viewing the paintings, I circled around and visited the coin collection. For me, and I believe for any coin collector, it is better than any old oil painting.

Ian Fenn

Level 5

Thanks for that.... We get to Venice reasonably often... I had tried the archives......but they are difficult to use due to the lack of modern computer cataloging. I hadn't got to the museum.... so on the next trip it will be first on the list


Level 6

Thank you for the interesting report on this book. Sounds kind of like a European Ancient coin book similar to Breen's U.S. coins. I appreciate your expert opinion. Thanks!


Level 7

It sounds like an important book for the time period. We don't no to much about books written in Europe. Your right about one thing this old feller wouldn't get through it. Thanks for letting the people who will get through it about it.. mike

Conan Barbarian

Level 5

thanks for talking about this series of books they sound very interesting but i am not too interested in those types of coins so i will spend my money else were but if i see it in the library than i will check it out. thanks for sharing

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