REPLICA OF A "TRILLINA" (1480-1494)


Among the many peculiar historical issues we usually deal with during re-enactment activities, one may also find currency, which is a very important one considering that the military system was intimately connected with money during the 15th century.

It stands to reason that soldiers were not always paid with high-denomination coins but, more often, with everyday use typologies, such as "bolognini" and "piccioli”, which we have already replicated considering any related local differences.

As our troops act as a military unit on the payroll of Sforza family, we’ve chosen to reproduce also a coin commonly used within the Dukedom of Milan and its neighbourhood: after much research, we opted for a “trillina”. Initially minted by Giovanni Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, it owes its name to the fact of being equal to n. 3 “denari” (one can find it differently quoted in documents as TERLINA, TRILLINA, TRELINA or TRIGLINA).

The first documentary evidence recording the presence of this fractional coin is an official statement dating back to 1st March 1452, describing it in the following way: “Trillinas from Mantua, which in Cremona, Parma, Piacenza and other parts of the dukedom are equal to 3 ‘denari’, will have a legal tender for 2”. Similarly, Francesco Sforza I issued and edict in 1465 stating that “Trelinze, pro denariis duobus pro singulo”.

The “trillina” is a low-mintage coin, meant for common use and filling up the coffers of the Dukedom, in fact its silver weight value was triple compared to the other Milanese coins. These features allowed the mint to gather quite a large amount of money, as the State would gain a net worth of 2/3 out of the face value for each traded coin.

Destined to the poorest folks, its use was limited within the Dukedom, considering also it was impossible to exchange it with other currencies.
The high profits made out of its distribution, concurred to the proliferation of many trillina-forgeries: besides, a lot of neighbour states minted a quite similar coin, so allowing its spreading outside the Milanese territory. In some cases, foreign mints created downright forgeries themselves to be smuggled within the Dukedom: apart from merely economical purposes, this used to happen with the goal of destabilizing the ducal market.
Such situation forced Milan to counter smuggling with a series of provisions (ducal deeds, orders, official statements – source: Milan State Archives), informing us of frequent checks at the borders, frisks, seizures and atrocious punishments the smugglers chanced to go through.

The original
We’ve chosen this particular "trillina" as its model was in vogue during the Dukedom of GALEAZZO MARIA SFORZA, between 1466 and 1476. This coin was commonly used until 1494, when LUDOVICO MARIA SFORZA “the Moor” came into power.
The source for our replica is based on a piece coming from a private collection, in overall good condition, a rather rare feature for this kind of coins.

Recto side shows an inscription which reads: + IOGZ M SF VI DVX MLI SX , and should be interpreted as follows: G(ALEA)Z(IUS).M(ARIA).SF(ORTIA).VI DUX M(EDIO)L(AN)I.S(E)X(TUS); the symbol is a crowned band, better known as capitergium cum gassa. On verso side: + LV PATRVO GVBNANTE; in this case, the symbol is a lily-shaped cross.

Our replica
The coin has been reproduced basing on a genuine piece, employing an alloy which is as similar as possible to the original one (tin and copper), comprising just a tiny amount of silver.
For legal reasons, we had to make a few modifications on our "trillina", in order to avoid it  being classified as a forgery: first of all, coinage has been made by casting and not by hammering, which resulted in a product almost overlapping the original for finishing as well as for dimensions and weight.

Sforza Castle - Rocchetta Courtyard
The symbol on “recto” side
Named CAPITERGIUM CUM GASSA, the symbol on recto side is part of many Visconti coats of arms, lately inherited and borrowed by Sforza family.
In 1395 Gian Galeazzo Visconti became Duke of Milan through the agency of Wenceslaus of Luxembourg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who granted him to display the CAPITERGIUM CUM GASSA as “divixia imperatoris” related to the ducal title.
The symbol represents a knotted veil (or maybe a ribbon), staying fluffy and raised.

Bibliographical sources:
- B. BIONDELLI, La Zecca e le monete di Milano, Bernardoni, Milano, 1869;
- C. CRIPPA, Le monete di Milano dai Visconti agli Sforza dal 1329 al 1535, Crippa, Milano, 1986;
- G. A. ZANETTO, Nuova raccolta delle monete e zecche d'Italia, Bologna, 1775-1789;
- F. GNECCHI - E. GNECCHI, Le monete di Milano da Carlo Magno a Vittorio Emanuele II. Descritte ed illustrate da Francesco ed Ercole Gnecchi, F.lli Dumolard, Milano, 1884.

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