The Central Bank of Malta has issued (8th May) gold and silver Proof coins, which are part of a Europe-wide numismatic programme featuring various annual topics and events. This year, the Five Ages of Europe series continues with the focus being on the Gothic era. The period is divided into Early Gothic (1150-1250), High Gothic (1250-1375), and International Gothic (1375-1450), and spread to all of Western Europe, as well as much of Southern and Central Europe. Characteristically Gothic is identified in terms of architecture as ornate and dramatic with intricately detailed stonework and stained glass, especially in cathedrals and churches.
The subject featured on Malta’s gold and silver Proof coins is the L’Isle Adam Graduals, a 10-volume set of beautifully illuminated graduals in large choir book format that include the complete liturgical cycle of sung masses. They were commissioned in 1533 by Philippe Villiers de L’Isle Adam (1464–1534), grand master of the Knights Hospitaller of St. John, who was elected to this exalted position in 1521. The volumes were completed shortly before L’Isle Adam’s death in 1534, following a disastrous fire in the Church of St. Lawrence in Birgu. After the consecration of the new co-cathedral in Valletta, the graduals were moved to this church, where they have remained ever since. Their size and stunning decoration do not fail to impress visitors who see them in their display cases, but behind their grandeur, in no small part due to their great size, there lies a complex artistic and liturgical history. The artwork is attributed to the followers of the French artist Jean Pichore (died 1521), who were most probably responsible for the major decoration of the manuscripts in 1533. Art historical analyses suggest that the hands that produced the L’Isle Adam set were familiar with Pichore’s work.
The coins were designed and minted by the Royal Dutch Mint at their new facilities in Houten, on behalf of the Central Bank of Malta. The obverse of the coin features the coat of arms of Malta and the Europa Star logo along with the text GOTHIC placed above the crest. The reverse of the coins depicts an illuminated letter O found in the L’Isle Adam Graduals, which are housed in the museum of St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Colour printing techniques have been used on the coins to reproduce the chromatic and aesthetic qualities of the original artwork. The coins are issued under the Europa Programme with the theme “Gothic” and bear the Europa Star logo.
|28.2 g||38.6 mm||Proof with applied colour||
|6.5 g||21 mm||Proof with applied colour||
Each coin is individually encapsulated and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, presentation cases for both the gold and silver coins are available at an additional charge. This year’s coins will conclude the five-year series dedicated to different periods of European art forms and history which have been widely grouped as Modern 20th Century (2016), The Age of Iron and Glass (2017), Baroque and Rococo (2018), Renaissance (2019), and Gothic (2020). For more information about these coins and others issued by the Central Bank of Malta, please visit their website.