Malta’s Europa Star Coin Series Featuring Gothic Era

16 May 2020  Sat

The Central Bank of Malta has issued gold and silver proof coins on 8th May 2020. They are a part of the Europe-wide numismatics program featuring various annual topics and events. This year, the Five Ages of Europe series continues with the focus being on the Gothic era. The coins are issued under the Europa Programme and bear the Europa Star logo and Malta coat of arms on the obverse.

The reverse of the coins depicts an illuminated letter O found in the L’Isle Adam Graduals, which are housed in the museum of St John’s Co-Cathedral. Colour printing techniques have been used on the coins to reproduce the chromatic and aesthetic qualities of the original artwork.

L’Isle Adam Graduals is a 10-volume set of beautifully illuminated graduals in large choir book formats that include the complete liturgical cycle of sung masses. They were commissioned in 1533 by Philippe Villiers de L’Isle Adam, a grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John who was elected to this exalted position in 1521. The volumes were completed shortly before L’Isle Adam’s death in 1534 following a disastrous fire in the Church of St. Lawrence in Birgu. After the consecration of the new co-cathedral in Valletta, the graduals were moved to this church, where they have remained ever since. Their size and stunning decoration do not fail to impress visitors who see them in their display cases, but behind their grandeur, in no small part due to their great size, there lies a complex artistic and liturgical history. The artwork is attributed to the followers of the French artist Jean Pichore who were most probably responsible for the major decoration of the manuscripts in 1533. Art historical analyses suggest that the hands that produced the L’Isle Adam set were familiar with Pichore’s work. The coins were designed and minted by the Royal Dutch Mint at their new facilities in Houten, on behalf of the Central Bank of Malta.

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