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Book Review, Zecca

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Book Review

 

Alan Stahl , Zecca The Mint of Vennice in the Middle Ages by, 2000, John Hopkins University Press

 

Zecca is an impressively researched historical work focusing adeptly on its subject: the Venetian mint in the middle ages. The narrative is very readable and the presentation uses footnotes to annotate the voluminous amount of source material that went into the creation of this work. The book focuses first on the coinage itself, the medieval penny, the grosso, the ducat, and finally the soldino. Each era goes into great detail on the weights, the fineness, and the people making the decisions to have the coins made. The book then goes back and examines each of the roles of the mint employees in additional detail. From the mintmasters and engravers to the smiths and weighers the duties of each position are laid out. In addition salaries and legal documents help flesh out some of the actual persons and the work done at the mint.

The book left me with a thirst for more knowledge about Venice's history. There is little background in the book on some of the external reasons that caused some of the decisions presented in th work. I think this is definitely a must read for those people who have a strong interest in both history and numismatics. It is not so well suited for the casual reader who will undoubtedly get bored by the finer details of how many pennies are in a mark, and which minor noble filled the role of mintmaster. But if the reader is interested in medieval coinage, even if it is not Italian, than this work will provide a ton of insightful information on mint practices and medieval monetary policy.

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