Description:This 17th century gold coin features Jesus Christ standing within a mandorla containing sixteen stars. In early Christian art, the mandorla was used to depict sacred moments which transcend time and space, such as the Resurrection. The legend reads SIT T XPE DAT QTV REGIS ISTE DVCA, which translates as "To thee, O'Christ, duchy, which thou rulest, be dedicated." The reverse side of this coin depicts Saint Mark the Evangelist, who is the Patron Saint of Venice and whose remains rest in the city. Saint Mark is shown presenting a banner to the Doge of Venice Alvise Contarini, who was the chief magistrate and leader. The Venetian gold zecchino coins were struck in near pure gold and the design was consistent from its introduction in 1284 to the conquest of Venice by Napoleon in 1797.
The Doge of Venice was elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy and was commonly the shrewdest elder. Contarini became Doge in 1676 and his eight-year reign was largely peaceful. Over the centuries, the Venetians had many battles with the Muslim Ottoman Empire, who rivaled Venice for domination of the eastern Mediterranean. However, Venice was known as the "Most Serene Republic of Venice", as they preferred to trade, rather than participate in unnecessary war activities. In the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the Roman Catholic stronghold of Venice was extremely wealthy through its control of trade between Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.