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Lot 722

Estimate: 50'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 50'000 CHF Price realized: 75'000 CHF
The Knights of St. John in Malta. Jean-Paul Lascaris Castellar, 57th Grand Master, 1636-1657. Dubloon or Double Zecchino of 40 Tari, n.d. (1641). AV 6.45 g. *F.IO.PAVLVS.LASCARIS. CASTELLAR.M.M.H.H. Bare-headed bust of the Grand Master r., wearing magisterial robes. Rev. IN HOSTES ET ERGA HOSPITES Crowned arms of Castellar quartered with those of the Order. Azzopardi, Malta 781; Fr. 11a; Restelli-Sammut 97, 2 and pl. XXVIII, 2; Schembri 202, 1 and pl. 8, 1.
Of the highest rarity, less than 10 specimens known. Close to extremely fine
Auction Bank Leu AG, Zurich 32 (1982), 689.
Auction LHS Numismatics Ltd., Zurich 99 (2006), 129.
Grand Master Jean-Paul Lascaris Castellar, 1636-1657.
Lascaris Castellar came from a noble Genoese family but he was also the direct descendant of Theodore I Comnenus-Lascaris, emperor of Nicaea (1208-1222). He was 76 when elected and died, apparently healthy to the end, at the ripe old age of 97. He was a good diplomat and needed to be since during part of his reign Spain and France, sources of so many Knights of the Order, were at war. He also expanded the navy and continued strengthening the island’s fortifications; this was sensible since the navy so annoyed the Ottomans that they were seriously considering invading Malta. Instead they turned on the island of Crete, then in the hands of the Venetians, which they finally captured in 1669. One of Castellar’s most long-lasting and useful edicts was published in 1650 and decreed that when a member of the Order died all the books he owned could not be sold or otherwise disposed of; rather, they all had to be sent to the Order’s library in Malta, which was designed to be open to the public. The one great numismatic innovation of Castellar’s reign was the appearance of some beautifully designed portrait double zecchini (equal to the Spanish dubloon and worth 40 Tari). These coins are extremely rare today.

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