Introduced in the late 1400s by King Matthias "the Just" of Hungary, the silver Madonna and Child denar represented the piety and power of the great Christian kingdom that stood as a bulwark against the Muslim Ottoman Empire's wars to conquer all of Europe.
These thin, small silver coins are approximately 16mm in diameter - smaller than a modern dime! Their small size belies their historical significance, though. The Hungarian denar was one of the earliest coins to feature a full date, rather than the regnal year of the ruler in whose reign the coin was minted. The year date will appear over the shield or below the Madonna on these coins. The small size and hand-struck mintage of the Hungarian denar resulted in off-center strikes on many of these coins.
Hungary produced nearly one third of the world's gold and silver in the 15th century, which guaranteed the purity of her coins, including the denar. Her kings used this great natural wealth to pay for their large armies in the fight against the Turks, but did not neglect the well being of their people. Hungarian kings were great supported of the arts. In fact, under the rule of Matthias I, Hungary was the first nation to adopt the ideas of the Italian Renaissance, and join it in emerging from the medieval era.
The Madonna and Child silver denars we offer here were struck between the late 1400s to early 1600s. They differed from the coin's previous designs by completely devoting one side to the image of the Virgin Mary (the Madonna) holding the infant Jesus. The progression of the workmanship on the dies that produced these coins can be observed by comparing the late medieval style of the earliest denars, to the Renaissance esthetic on the later coins (or, at least as much as the tiny diameter of these coins allowed!)
Thankfully, the affordable cost of these historical coins makes building a collection something that even someone of modest means can accomplish. Why not get started today, by buying your first Madonna and child silver denar at Gainesville Coins?