Royal Coin, Francis I. Sample Teston


This gold sample teston (16th-century French silver coin) representing the King Francis I (1494–1547; reigned, 1515–47) of France is one of the most characteristic monetary expressions of the Renaissance. The realistic portrait, classical inspiration, significant relief, and weight of the piece are all features that represent a break from the money of medieval times. The 19th-century numismatist, Henri de La Tour, showed that this 1529 coin was the work of Matteo del Nassaro (circa 1490–1547), an Italian artist from Verona who first entered the service of Francis I in 1515. Nassaro’s authorship is known to historians through an account statement that shows he was paid 112 livres Tournois (Tours pounds), 15 sous, of which ten livres, five sous were “for the gold he gave and used in a medal that he struck on the corner of these testons.” The gold specimen shown here is almost certainly this unique medal.

Last updated: January 8, 2018