Outstanding Hammered Gold Coins of Fernando I “the Handsome”

The Stack’s Bowers Galleries August 2023 Global Showcase Auction highlights items from around the world and features many phenomenal numismatic treasures. Two such pieces emanate from the Iberian Peninsula, struck at the Lisbon mint in Portugal during the reign of Fernando I (1367-83): lot 52485, a Dobra Pé-Terra, and 52486, a 1/2 Dobra Pé-Terra. Each piece displays a standing figure of the monarch leaning upon a shield and holding a sword, with the reverse featuring an ornate flourished cross within quadrilobes. These designs were inspired by contemporary French coinage that features similar motifs. Both the Dobra and 1/2 Dobra types are extreme rarities and few examples are known today—just 12 pieces are believed to be extant for all varieties of the full Dobra, while only six have been confirmed of the 1/2 Dobra (a figure that includes one that has been cut in half and is permanently impounded in the “Museu Numismatico Portugues”).

There are many interesting and historically significant details pertaining to Dom Fernando I “the Handsome” and his coinage. During his reign, coins were struck throughout Portugal and Spain at various mints, with differing designs depending upon where they were struck. Dom Fernando was the eldest surviving son of Pedro I “the Cruel” of Portugal and Constanza of Castile. As a great-grandson of Sancho IV, he laid claim to the throne of Castile, as did other claimants like the kings of Aragon and Navarre, as well as John of Gaunt of England. Dom Fernando ascended the Portuguese throne on 18 January 1367, and ruled until his death in 1383. His reign was not easy; in fact, during those 16 years Portugal entered into several unsuccessful wars against Spain, with various allies and support. He died from unknown causes (though it is speculated that he was poisoned) in Lisbon on 22 October 1383 without a male heir. His death led to a period in Portuguese history known as the “Crise de 1383–1385,” or the Interregnum, during which there was no crowned king of Portugal. The passing of Fernando I signaled the extinction of the Burgundian line—one which had held the throne since the early 12th century beginning with Henrique, Count of Portugal, who was the father of Afonso Henriques, the country’s first king.

To view our upcoming auction schedule and future offerings, please visit where you may register and participate in this and other forthcoming sales.

We are always seeking coins, medals, and paper money for future auctions, and are currently accepting consignments for our NYINC auction in January 2024 and for our spring 2024 Hong Kong auction. Additionally, we are accepting consignments for our Collectors Choice Online (CCO) auctions, the next for which we are accepting consignments being in November 2023. If you would like to learn more about consigning, whether a singular item or an entire collection, please contact one of our consignment directors today and we will assist you in achieving the best possible return on your material. Call 800-458-4646 or email [email protected].

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