Words, numbers, and images: Renaissance Coins

           I really enjoyed this article much more than the past two.  It was clear and applicable to every day life.  It reminded me of a project I am working on right now in my Renaissance art class.  I am researching Renaissance coins; English ones in particular.  These coins are a combination of words, numbers, and images.  All three of these elements relate to one another.

         In an article called Counting Out Their Coins (which I can forward to anyone who is interested), it states:  “The truth is that coinage, in the early sixteenth century, was notoriously unstable, imprecise, and problematic.”

            In sixteen-century Europe, coins circulated freely.  They had an ambiguous nature due to their not uniform nature (thank goodness for the Euro!).  Coins had no geographical boundaries.  They had no exact exchange values.  A cornucopia of different coins were drawn to trade centers. 


            Art and money have always had intersecting paths.  To this day, art and money are one.  Art has a monetary value in markets.  Money and patrons affect art’s pictorial style.  Artists have always played with ideas of signifying functions of money in their art.  Art and money can become visually one to two ways: money depicted in art or art imprinted on money.

           Money further had, and still has, depictions of designs or people displayed on it.  In this example, Queen Elizabeth has her profile portrait displayed for people onlooking (image).  Around her reads (text), something to the affect of, “Elizabeth, Queen of England, Church of England… etc.”  It has a monetary value inscribed as well (numbers).

          By looking at the coins from the Renaissance and the interactions of images, numbers, and words, we are able to put into practice what Tufte is saying and catch a glimpse into a different era.


One comment

  1. Very interesting that you used this as an example for words numbers and images. After reading the chapter, money didn’t even occur to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve recently have only been using cards for my transactions, which have their own words, numbers, and images, I suppose.
    Interesting article, I enjoyed reading it.

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