Zecchini is the plural of zecchino, originally a gold coin issued by the Zecca (mint) of Venice in 1284, and later issued by numerous other Italian and other states.
From our limited knowledge of Italian, it appears to be a diminutive of the word zecca, meaning a "little-die", "little-mint", or possibly "small product from the mint".
It is possible that it was not publicly called a zecchino until about 1554 in the reign of Doge Francesco Venier.
The word zecca is derive from an Arabic word (sikka) for die.
When originally issued, it had the same weight and specification as the fiorino issued by Florence. The word ducat is also used synonymously, although it was originally issued as a silver coin at Venice in 1202.
Its original value was 7 lire (from Roman Libra) and 12 soldi (plural of soldo, and derived from the Roman solidus). As there were 20 soldi to the lira, the value translates to 7.60 lire expressed in decimals.
Three zecchini equated to 1 ruspone.
The English word sequin is derived from zecchino, now meaning a small thin disc of meta, or of metallic appearance, sewn onto dresses. This probably comes from the custom in some countries of pinning money to wedding dresses.
Zecchini from Other States and Countries
- Lombardy, under Maria Theresa of Austria
- Knights of the Order of St. John of Malta (Cavalieri Ospitalieri)
- Turkey under the Ottoman Empire
- Genoa (Genova)
- Bologna as a Papal City State
- San Georgio (San Giorgio)
Zecchino||1284 - ||21.35||3.4940||.9990||.1122
The exact weight, fineness, and therefore intrinsic gold content may ahve varied with time, and between different states. The figures shown are typical.
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Obverse of 1783 Papal States Gold Zecchino
Reverse of 1783 Papal States Gold Zecchino