Society for Creative Anachronism ARCHIVE
An Tir Royal Presentation/Largesse Piece.
 
 
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King Darius Third Reign
Society for Creative Anachronism Presentation/Largesse Piece
19.0mm .999 Silver

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   There are four different An Tir Royal presentation/largesse pieces. First, an explanation of what Royal prensenation pieces are: The Moneyers' Guild of the Principality of Cynagua (Sacramento Valley) in the Kingdom of the West initiated the custom of the Moneyers' Guild presenting to each new Prince of Cynagua (two Princes rule each year) a number of coins struck in his name for his use. Uses ranged from hoarding them as treasure to flinging them to the crowds like Mardi Gras "doubloons", but primarily they're used as individual gifts and tokens of personal recognition by the ruler. Originally each ruler received 120 pieces; later the number was increased to "one pound nominal" (i.e. 240 pence), plus it is customary to present two fine silver strikes to the consort or Queen.

   The custom began (in the mid-'80's, I think) because there was an overlap in membership of the Moneyers' Guild and various fighter groups, whose members occasionally won the Coronet Tournament. When one of these friends of the moneyers won the Crown Tournament, the custom spread to presenting such pieces to each new King of the West, and the Crown recognized the Kingdom level Moneyers' Guild of the West. There are three Kings per year in West. On a few occasions, such pieces have also been struck for Princes of the Principality of the Mists (San Francisco Bay area branches of the Kingdom of the West, but not regularly, as few members of the MGW happen to live in the Mists.

   Sometimes the Consort's name is included in the inscription, sometimes not - probably primarily determined by the length of the names and space availability on the die. All of these presentation/largesse pieces have mon dies for the reverse. Probably an average of three to five different mon dies can be found among the coins of a given Prince or King. A "mon die" is a penny size trussel (i.e. "hammer die") that can be used whenever one side of a coin that size can have a "generic" design. Having one's own mon die is a privilege of being a Journeyman or Fellow of the Moneyers' Guilds (in the An Tir Guild, it is the first die an apprentice makes as part of qualifying to become a Journeyman). "Mon" is short for "monetarius" = Latin for moneyer. (Among the coins I'm sending you minted by the Moneyers' Guild of the West, there's only one Royal presentation/largesse type, but among other types of pieces from the MGW there are several different mon dies. Among the An Tir coins I'm sending, the only mon die represented is my own.)

   In the West, the mon die consists of the individual's privy mark symbol as the main design, with "mon" across the top and the individual's given name across the bottom, with a beaded border circle and usually some filler ornamentation. In An Tir the mon dies are all based on the long cross of the pennies of Henry III of England (type minted 1247-'79), the last medieval coin type to name the moneyer on the coin. The first steel die I sank was this long cross type (which I used on my long cross silver trade penny), so it is essentially my mon die. However, it doesn't have my privy mark on it. The mon dies of the other members of the An Tir Guild have their privy mark replacing one of the groups of three pellets in one angle of the cross. As on my long cross die, the inscription is the moneyer's given name, "on" (English for Norman French "en" meaning "in") and the name of his SCA branch of residence (usually extremely abbreviated).

   Unlike the Kingdom of the West, An Tir has only two Kings per year, the first being crowned at the Twelfth Night Feast (usually the first or second weekend of January), and the second being Crowned on the second or third weekend of July. I introduced the custom of the Royal presentation pieces into AnTir at the first coronation (out of three) of King Darius in July of '92.

   This Royal presentation/largesse piece was for the third reign of King Darius. For Darius' first Coronation, I copied a very simple generic enthroned king image from a silver tram of Cilician Armenia (substituting a Latin inscription), with my long cross "mon" for the reverse. [excerpt from old letter:] For Darius' second Reign (beginning January '94), I wanted to do something appropriate to his historical persona; the problem is that his persona is "Arthurian Roman-British", a place and time (late 5th - early 6th century) when no coins were either minted or used as money. The solution was to make something appropriate to another persona of Cliff Frick (Darius' "mundane" name); he was an Imperator (i.e. commander - "IMP" in the coin's inscription) and Legionary Tribune ("TRP" on the coin) in the Legio XXIII, a second century Roman military re-enactment group. (In fact, at his first Coronation as King of An Tir, his personal guard was made up of legionaries with ancient Roman clothing, armor and weapons. However, at his second Coronation, where these coins were actually presented, he dressed consistently with Queen Jacyntha's Tudor persona, with the result that he very much resembled one of the Holbein portraits of Henry VIII.)

   Primarily I was just interested in trying ancient Roman style die work, including an attempt at an actual portrait, just to see if I could do it. I spent five weeks engraving the dies. While the portrait does look handsome (if I do say so myself), and it does look Roman, it is not, in fact, an exact likeness. The nose is slightly too long; the distance from the nose to the tip of the chin isn't quite long enough; the eye is a little to far back from the bridge of the nose; the head isn't quite blocky enough (I was working from a photo that didn't show the back of his head). These defects simply reflect the present limits of my ability to analyze and control the proportions. Still, the result is recognizably Darius, and I rationalize the difference with the comment about the Greek c鎙ators of the Eastern Imperial mints idealizing their subjects more than the c鎙ators at Rome.

   For the other side of the coin, honouring Queen Jacyntha, my primary model was a Roma seated type denarius of Elagabalus (struck in 219) in my collection.

   King Darius and Queen Morgaine were crowned in January of 1997. While it was very convenient to use the portrait die I'd made for Darius' second Reign for the third Reign, I couldn't use the Jacyntha reverse. By the time Darius won the Crown Tournament the third time, he had a new Consort, Morgaine. On the new die, I Latinized her name as "Morgana". To make it different at a glance, I used a standing female figure. My inspiration was the ancient Roman "Fortuna Redux" ("to the fortunate return" [of the Emperor]) type issued when the Emperor was travelling away from Rome (besides the cornucopeia, Fortuna holds a rudder as her identifying attribute). For years I'd admired the composition of a Fortuna Redux antoninianus of Postumus (259-'68) in my collection; it solves the problem of the vertical column of the standing figure filling the circular space by using lots of diagonal design elements (e.g., the parallel outstretched arm, cornucopeia, and dress drapery/ the rudder and bent leg showing through the dress pulled tight over it).

   I pretty much exactly copied my antoninianus and photos of other similar Roman types - except for the head. I showed the hair down the way Morgaine actually wears it (Roman female figures always had it up in a bun), and tried to make the face look a little like Morgaine. Except for the unevenness of the letter sizes, I think this one is closer to the actual style of Roman coins of the period than the Jacyntha type. The Fortuna Redux inscription is not, in this context, a reference to Darius travelling, but rather a play on His use of the title Dux (Latin for Duke) - suggestive of something like "the Duke is back, and aren't we fortunate". One other note: I don't remember whether it was before or after His third Coronation, but the portrait die got rusty in storage, and I had to re-engrave a lot of the portrait, resulting in it being a little higher relief than earlier mintings. This silver strike has been sitting around for a long time, so it's picked up some peripheral golden toning.

The Moneyer of Silberbyrg ... EMail:Ian Cnulle (Greg Franck-Weiby)

 
 
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