15. Hungarian Florin (Forint), 16th-Century CE

A bifolio from a ledger of mercantile accounts, written mainly in Castilian Spanish with some interference from Portuguese. The identity and the location of the scribe are unknown. A precise date has not been established, but paleographic and linguistic features suggest that it is no earlier than the late sixteenth century. The blank space on the remaining pages was reused for pen trials in Hebrew script and for geomancy, a form of divination in which one asks a yes-or-no question and receives an answer from the patterns of dots. Intriguingly, one of the geomancy castings is accompanied by the names of a man (Avraham) and woman (Ledicia). The question, alas, is not recorded.

The entries each appear to end with notation based on the librae-solidi-denarii system of units of account. Spelled out within the entries are several identifiable denominations: "hungaros" or "ungaros" (Hungarian gold florins), "sequinos" (Venetian ducats), and "maidis" (also known as medins, muʾayyadis, and niṣf fiḍḍa, the standard silver currency of Ottoman-era Egypt). The Hungarian gold florin (forint) was also referred to as a ducat given that the coinage was minted in attempt to reach parity with Venetian and Florentine standards [1].

[1] János Buza, "The exchange rates of the Hungarian and Turkish ducats in the mid-16th century," Acta Orientalia 60.1 (2007): 34.

"Ledger Fragment," T-S Ar.34.318r, 16th-century CE, Castilian Spanish and Portuguese.

Images provided by Cambridge University Library


1 por d 90 tomei hungaros 73

2 a L 7 β 12 que fazen ungaros 73&74

3 d 353 os L 2 tome ungaros 200

4 9 fazen d 245 L 1 ungaros 200

5 mas tome sequinos 82 β 16 q[ue]

6 fazen d 107[?] L 9 β 18 que fazen

7 sequinos 82 β 16 ––––––– 2 β 16


1 for 90 d[enari] I took 73 hungarian [ducats],

2 at 7 l[ibrae]: s[olidi] 12 that makes 73&74 hungarian [ducats]

3 353 d[enari] they [are] 2 l[ibrae] I received 200 hungarian [ducats]

4 9 make d[enari] 245- 1 l[ibrae] 200 hungarian [ducats]

5 also take sequins [Venetian ducats] totaling 82 s[olidi]: 16, which

6 make 1 d[enari]: 9 l[ibrae]: 18 s[olidi] which is

7 ducats at 82 s[olidi]:16–––––– 2 s[olidi]: 16

(eds. Matthew Dudley and Alan Elbaum)

Hungarian Florin in the Princeton Numismatic Collection (Coin: 16610)

Denomination: florin

Metal: Gold

State: Hungary

City: Kremnitz

Date: 1574 to 1574

Reverse Figure Description: Knight, standing

Reverse Attributes: scepter, in his r. hand

Reverse Symbol: mintmark on both sides

Size; 23 mm

Die Axis: 12

Weight: 3.52 grams

Shape: round

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