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Il rovescio della medaglia, No. 1: Two letters by Annibale Caro: Numismatic methods and ancient coin reverses in: Annibale Caro, De le lettere familiari del Commendatore Annibal Caro, Volume Secondo. Venezia: Aldo Manuzio, 1575 (FONTES 72)

Caro, Annibale

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FONTES 72, the first of a series of numbers treating Renaissance numismatic literature, considers two letters written by Annibale Caro (1507-1566). The first letter, from around 1557-1559, is addressed to a former student of Caro, Silvio Antoniano, in Ferrara. In this letter Caro describes his scientific methods of describing, analysing, documenting, classifying and interpreting numismatic material, and, in particular, his treatment of the reverses of ancient coins. This method is illustrated in Caro’s second letter, addressed to the Roman humanist antiquarian and collector of antiquities Fulvio Orsini, on 15 September 1562. It provides, at Orsini’s request, information about some sixty-five coins and their reverse images that was retrieved from coins in his collection as well as from his well-organized indices and notes, which he had described in his letter to Antoniano. Caro’s descriptions of the allegorical figues on the coin reverses was very likely to serve Orsini in the elaboration of a program for artists. Caro’s study of ancient coins and their reverses dates back to his studies in the 1530s in the ambience of the Accademia vitruviana and in the company of Caudio Tolomei, Marcello Cervini and Bernardino Maffei, all of whom sought to interpret the reverse images on coins on the basis of the ancient writings ("per via d’historie"). For Caro, the images on the coin and the relevant written sources were complementary: "E cosi si verrebbono a far di belli interpretamenti tanto ne le medaglie quanto ne’ libri". The difficulties that numismatists faced in this task can be traced in the literature on ancient coins from the 1530s up until the time of Francesco Angeloni and Giovan Pietro Bellori (1685), and beyond.

Translation of abstract (German)

FONTES 72 präsentiert zwei Briefe von Annibale Caro (1507-1566), in denen er seine wissenschaftliche Vorgehensweise hinsichtlich Beschreibung, Klassifizierung und Interpretation antiker Münzen erläutert. Gegenstand seiner Studien ist auch die Rückseite der Münzen (Revers).

Document type: Book
Editors: Davis, Margaret Daly
Date: 2012
Version: Primary publication
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2012 17:33
Faculties / Institutes: Research Project, Working Group > Individuals
DDC-classification: Plastic arts, numismatics, ceramics, metalwork
Controlled Keywords: Caro, Annibale / Lettere familiari, Numismatik, Antike, Münze
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brief
Subject (classification): Decorative Arts
Countries/Regions: Italy
Paper series: