Princeton University Acquires Rights of Gold Ducat Imitations

06 Dec 2017  Wed

The Princeton University Library Numismatic Collection has got the rights for the Benjamin R. Bell Collection of Ducats, by a bequest from late Benjamin R. Bell. He was a coin dealer, a collector and a scholar of the medieval ducats of Venice and their manifold imitations. He passed away at a young age, earlier this year.

Bell decided to leave his collection to Princeton because of the presence in their numismatics collection of a substantial number of related coins, which have already served as the basis of research by students and faculty.

Issued as currency, the Bell Collection of 190 gold coins were rich in ducats attributed to Italian, Greek and Turkish minters and later examples struck on the Indian sub-continent. It also includes many examples of significantly lower weight and fineness than Venetian ducats, which Bell argued were minted to fit into the Byzantine monetary system.

Princeton’s curator of numismatics and a specialist in the coinage of Venice, Alan Stahl says “the Venetian ducat established itself in the 14th century as the dominant coin of Mediterranean trade, eclipsing in important Islamic and Byzantine denominations.

Some Mediterranean mints identified their rulers on ducat issues, copied after those of Venice, but others retained the name of Venetian doges, with only minor changes in style and inscriptions that allow modern scholars to distinguish them from authentic issues.

The large collection of imitation ducats acquired by Princeton as part of the Latin Orient Collection in 2007, with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund, has already served as the basis of the research of Sarah Kampbell, who received her doctorate in history in 2013.