1559 Sede Vacante Coin Recently Acquired By My Friend ‘Mark T.’
Those that are familiar with my papal posts no doubt remember ‘Mark T.‘ (from the Mason-Dixon line vicinity) — a Federal Employee who is both an expert on matters papal and an avid collector of papal coins. Over the years I have published quite a few pictures of his amazing and beautiful coins.
This is one of his recent acquisitions and I have not dared ask how much it cost.
It is from 1559 — and it is a sede vacante (vacant see (in this case the Apostolic See of Rome)) coin. Such coins are issued by the Camerlengo (acting chief executive of the church in the absence of a pope) during the gap (i.e., vacancy) between the end of one papacy and the start of the next.
The 1559 sede vacante was between the papacies of Paul IV (#224, elected 1555) and his successor Pius IV. It was a relatively lengthy 4-month vacancy from August 18 to December 25, 1559. Yes, Pius IV was elected on Christmas.
The Camerlengo at this sede vacante was Guido Ascanio Cardinal Sforza (1518 — 1564) — the grandson of Paul III (#221, elected 1534). He was created a cardinal, aged 16, by his grandfather — as was normal for the time. He was appointed Camerlengo, yet again by his grandfather, in 1537 — when he was but 19-years old! He would go onto preside over four sede vacantes, 1559 his last.
The obverse side of this coin shows his coat of arms (per his prerogative as the Camerlengo) along with the notation SEDE VACANTE 1559.
The reverse side shows St. Peter standing with his keys keys along with the notation: S•PETRVS•©•ALMA•ROMA — where ‘Alma Roma’ refers to the ‘New Rome’ (under Christianity).This coin was minted in Rome.