Coins and Medals of Malta, the Property of an Officer Brother of the Order of St John

Date of Auction: 21st February 2018

Sold for £2,800

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500

Jean de la Vallete (1557-68), Zecchino, 3.39g/2h (RS p.41, 1; Schembri p.42, 1; F 5). Nearly extremely fine, rare


The first stone of the new city of Valletta was laid by Jean de Vallete in March 1566, part of a project to protect Malta from Turkish attack and occupation. The scheme was aided and financed by the Pope and the great Catholic monarchs of Europe including Charles IX of France, Philip II of Spain and Sebastian of Portugal.

The Maltese zecchino was closely modelled on its Venetian counterpart which, named the ducato, was introduced in 1284. It soon became the trade coin of preference for the whole of the eastern Mediterranean. The name zecchino (from the Italian word zecche, meaning mint) became established around 1550. The Venetian coin lasted until 1797; the Maltese counterpart was struck at intervals until 1756 when it was replaced by coins of the gold scudo system