Provisino: coin from Papal States; type of denaro


Provisino (denaro provisino), 1347-1354: Papal States (Rome)

Provisino (denaro provisino), 1347-1354: Papal States (Rome)

Ruler: Nicola Gabrini (1313-1354), commonly known as Cola di Rienzo — an Italian politician and leader of the popular uprising in Rome in 1347, who styled himself as the "tribune of the Roman people".

TRIBVNAT ALMVS (the legend is almost completely lost): "gracious tribunate" and another cross (small).

The cross as a typical motif of medieval coins.

ROMA CAPVT MV: "Roma Capud Mundi" ("Rome is the capital of the world").

A comb for combing wool (the main plot of the denier of Provins — the prototype of the denaro provisino), a star and a crescent moon.

  • Silver (billon): 14 mm - 0.45 g
  • Reference price: 12.0$

COIN PROVISINO — WHERE & WHEN (coins catalog: by names & emitents)
  1. ITALIAN STATES (PAPAL STATES), 12th-14th centuries: provisino (denaro provisino)

PROVISINO as coin name.
Provisino or Denaro Provisino — medieval small billon coin of Italy. It was issued during 1184-1398 in Rome as the capital of the Papal State. During 1184-1188, these coins were not completely legitimate (they were not recognized as valid by the Roman Pope) and acted as local, regional, temporary money signs.
Having picked up an Italian denaro provisino, experienced numismatists specializing in medieval European coins will immediately say: it is a copy of a French coin. Which one exactly?...
In the 12th century, a large-scale cattle fair in the French city of Provins (the historical region of Champagne) became known almost throughout Europe. It was there that twice a year (in May and September) merchants from all the surrounding lands gathered for auctions. For mass calculations, as a rule, local coins were used — silver deniers ("Denier au peigne ou provinois" — "Denier with a comb or provenois"). They had a characteristic design: a cross and a comb for combing the hair (wool) of livestock. Provence was just famous for the production of wool. Then these coins moved en masse to neighboring states...
The mentioned denier became especially popular in central Italy, especially in Rome. At that time, the "eternal city" practically did not issue its own, local coins (for about three centuries, starting from the 10th century, the Roman popes did not mint their coins due to all kinds of political strife). At the end of the 12th century, there was a noticeable crisis in the money emission.
Therefore, the decision of the Roman Senate to restore full-fledged work of the mint became logical. Since the population was already used to imported high-quality provenance silver deniers, the authorities decided to follow a fairly common (even fashionable) scenario at the time: to copy the design of the coins that the people were used to. This is how Roman denaro provisino appeared with the already familiar images of a cross (around which various small symbols were sometimes added) and a comb (above which is placed an image of a star and a crescent moon, as well as the letter "S"). The weight of the coin did not exceed 0.5 g.
Denaro provisino usually contained their own, original, legend, namely: + SENAT P Q R / + ROMA CAPVD M — Senat[us] P[opolus] q[ue] R[omanus] / Roma Capud M[undi]. The inscription "+ SPQR" is still used today on the coat of arms of the city of Rome as a kind of motto and means "Senate and people of Rome". The phrase "Roma Caput Mundi" translates as "Rome is the capital of the world."
According to Italian numismatic sources, the denaro provisino:
  • From the very beginning, they had a lower quality and weight than their prototype — French denier.
  • Denaro provisinos themselves are not characterized by stable quality. Some emissions contained a minimum of silver and had a different shape — almost square.
  • Archaeological studies confirm that, in parallel with the minting of real denaro provisino, numerous fakes were mass-produced. This was done by fraudsters with the aim of deceiving countless pilgrims to Rome. They became easy prey for counterfeiters.
The described coins are not considered extremely rare, but they are not represented in every collection. Denaro provisinos of the tribune Cola di Rienzo, mid-14th century, are relatively common.
The name of the Denaro Provisino coin (often the coin is abbreviated: Provisino) indicates its prototype: the denier of the French city of Proven (French "Provins").