Pope Urban VIII

Scene of Ore Mining and Smelting

Bronze, 45.6 mm Ø, 36.9 g
By Gaspare Morone, 1641.
Obverse:  Bust of Urban VIII facing right, bareheaded, wearing decorative cope with Ss. Peter and Paul and sun faces. Surrounded by two boughs of laurel, each containing three bees. Around, within laurel, VRBANVS · VIII · PON · MAX · A · XVIII (Urban VIII, Supreme Pontiff, In His Eighteenth Year).
Reverse:  A man stoking a furnace at left, with a kneeling man gathering a bundle of wood on the ground. In the background, nine figures involved in ore mining. Surrounded by two boughs of laurel, each containing three bees. Above, within laurel, FERRI FODINIS APERTIS (Iron Mines Opened). In exergue, within laurel, MDCXXXXI / ROMÆ (1641, Rome).

Annual medal for 1641 which commemorates the mining operations at Monte Leone, near the city of Spoleto. Iron ore deposits were discovered there during the reign of Urban, and he established ore extraction and smelting furnaces at the site. However, the ore turned out to be of poor quality, and the mines were closed in 1690. Urban was born Maffeo Barberini, and the bees on the medal are a reference to the Barberini coat of arms, which contained three bees.

Published:

Illustrated in Miselli 2003, no. 335.

Provenance:

Raffaele Negrini 40, 30 January 2015, lot 919.

Kunst und Münzen XXVI, 13-15 May 1988, lot M29.

References:

Bartolotti 1967, no. E641

cf. Whitman and Varriano 1983, no. 63

Miselli 2003, no. 335

Modesti 2007, no. 108

Pollard 2007, no. 840

Flaten 2012, no. 45

Modesti 2018, no. 3267