AMALFITAN COINS: THE "TARI"


The coin used by the Amalfitans in their commercial exchanges was the Tari, a reproduction of an arab coin with religious inscriptions on one side (which were valid for both Moslems and Christians) and patterned on the other. The word Tari meant freshly minted. The coins were 12 carat and were made of equal parts of gold and silver mixed with a small quantity of copper. As far back as the 11th century Amalfi issued gold Tari from its own mint, which was probably situated in the city’s Ducal Palace. Judging from documentary evidence its purchasing power was large . The Amalfi mint also minted copper Tari, and some of these dating from the 11th century bear the bust of the Doge Masone II with an inscription on one side and a maritime port with defence towers on the other.

The gold tari also had two faces. The capite often had a globe or the Doge’s initials, whilst some people claim that the cruce represented an eight pointed cross, today one of the principle emblems of the city. The Amalfitan Tari circulated throughout the Mediterranean and was for centuries Amalfi’s official monetary unit.

In the area of the town near the beach, there was a square where the money-changers and the signatories of the florentine and senesi banks with their tables operated. Obviously other currencies circulated in Amalfi,amongst which the byzantine soldo was the most common, and which had a value of 4 tari. A few examples of aurei (gold) tari, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries are preserved in the British Museum in London, in Vittorio Emanuele’s Collection and in the Centro di Culture e Storia Amalfitana. The Amalfi Mint ceased activity in 1220 when Federico II forced its closure.


Created 27th May 2004

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