«Traditional Means of Payment»

Holy Roman Empire, Republic of Florence, Fiorino d'Argento (Grosso)

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Holy Roman Empire, Republic of Florence, Fiorino d'Argento (Grosso) (obverse) Holy Roman Empire, Republic of Florence, Fiorino d'Argento (Grosso) (reverse)

During the 13th century, two important developments in the history of numismatics occurred: the reissue of gold coins, of which the minting had ceased in the 9th century; and the issue of silver coins larger than the penny (denar). This was an absolutely vital innovation, since the penny had lost so much of its purchasing power over time that larger payments could hardly be carried out. The new silver coins were called "denarii grossi," large denars, or simply grosso. In English the grosso became the groat. In Florence, the grosso was also called fiorino d'argento. It depicted a lily flower on its obverse. The reverse showed the city's patron saint John the Baptist. With these motifs a matchless success story began. Florence was to keep these images for the next 300 years on its gold and silver coins – and they were to become the archetypes for coinage in the whole of Europe.

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