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The ducat // was a gold or silver coin that was used as a trade coin in Europe from the later medieval centuries onwards, until as late as the 20th century. There have been many types of ducats of various metallic content and purchasing power throughout history.
The first issue of this type of coin is thought to have been under king Roger II of Sicily, who was also the Duke of Apulia and who, in 1140, coined ducats bearing the figure of Christ and the inscription, Sit tibi, Christe, datus, quem tu regis iste ducatus meaning roughly "O Christ, let this duchy which you rule be dedicated to you." This seems to be a reference to Matthew 22:19-21. The ducat was introduced by the Republic of Venice in 1284, with emblems featuring the Doge of Venice kneeling before St. Mark on the obverse, and Jesus on the reverse. This Venetian ducat was a 24-carat gold coin. It was called ducato in Italian, although the same coin was later called a zecchino in Italian. During the Late Middle Ages the pure gold ducat gained much popularity, as it was easy to mint and packed a large value into one relatively small coin. Several cities and small states in Europe issued multiple, single and fractional ducats. The standard coin was adopted in Hungary, and for a long time all foreign coins bore the name Ongri, "Hungarian" in Venetian, as Venice was where the trade of the world at this period was concentrated. Ducats did not become popular in Germany until a later date.
Ducats became a standard gold coin throughout Europe, especially after they were officially imperially sanctioned in 1566. The ducat remained sanctioned until 1857. There was also a silver ducat minted in many European nations. The Royal Dutch Mint still issues silver ducats with a weight of 28.25 grams.
The most common type of ducat were the old Dutch ducats, bearing the impression of an armed figure, which gave way, for a short time only, to the figure of Louis II of Flanders. They circulated almost as merchandise, but had been frequently counterfeited in the Grisons. The counterfeits were very good in appearance, weight, and sound.
Around 1913, the gold ducat was worth the equivalent of "nine shillings and four pence sterling, or somewhat more than two dollars. The silver ducat is of about half this value." Even now some national mints produce batches of ducats made after old patterns as bullion gold and banks sell these coins to private investors or collectors.
|Roger II of Sicily|
|+IC XC RC IN ÆTRN, nimbate bust of Christ facing, holding Gospels||R•R SLS, King Roger and, R•DX•AP, Duke Roger (son of Roger) standing facing, holding long cross between them; AN R X along staff of cross.|
|AG: scyphate ducalis or ducatum|
- Austria. The Austrian Mint still mints single and four-ducats, both dated 1915.
- Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines minted their own version of the Venetian silver ducat, called the basilikon.
- Czech Republic still mints gold replicas (1,4,40 and one hundred ducats)
- Germany and the Holy Roman Empire; many cities, states and principalities before 1871.
- Hungary. The Hungarian mint still mints commemorative coins with 2, 3, 4 and 6-ducats quality.
- Netherlands still issues golden and silver ducats having the same weight, composite and design when they were first minted in 1586.
- Poland (the historical Red złoty)
- Russia imitated Dutch ducats due to their popularity. Also issued small quantities of Russian design.
- Kingdom of Serbia
- Spain, all through its domains, including Flanders, the Kingdom of Napoli and the Americas.
- Switzerland. Before the Swiss unification, the Swiss also minted Ducats, the most well known of which are the Zurich ducats.
- Kingdom of Yugoslavia
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