VATICAN, silver medal, 1634


VATICAN, Urban VIII, 1623-1644, medal, 1634, Obverse: bare headed bust R, VRBANVS. VIII. PONT. MAX. A. XI. MDC. XXXIIII, Reverse: church façade, AEDE. S. BIBIANAE. RESTITVTA. ORN. ROMAE, silver, 41mm, 33.26g, the annual medal, for the restoration and ornamentation of the Church of St. Bibiano in Rome, I found only a mention in a scholarly article, not a catalog reference. No pictures or sales records on the web, a silver medal from early 18th century asking $1300 equivalent in Europe.XF

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The popes got into the habit of making annual commemorative medals for artistic and propaganda purposes as early as the late 15th century. It got so they made more than one in a year, then they got to make many per year.

There are two kinds of things that are called “medals.” One is things that look like coins but don’t express a value. Sometimes those medals are considerably larger than most coins. The other kind of medal is a metal thing designed to be displayed on one’s chest, often a reward for something, often in a military context. If the medal is small enough it is sometimes called a “medallet.”

The word “exonumia” is used to describe all kinds of things that are “like” coins but are not coins.I wrote a blog post on that subject. Basic categories: 1. used like a coin but not issued by a national government, 2. looks like a coin but not made for spending, 3. other things that we are interested in.