Topics of coins

Boratynka and tymf of John Casimir Vasa

Turbulent times, when John Casimir Vasa was on the throne (1648–1668), brought significant changes to Polish coinage. The most visible one was the emergence of a huge amount of small, pure copper coins – a depreciated szeląg (shilling). The shilling was called “boratynka” (borettine), after the name of an Italian Münzmeister (mint master), Tito Livio Burattini. He minted hundreds of millions of these coins in several mints, among others, at the castle of Ujazdów (today located within the city limits of Warsaw). The coins were needed to pay rebelling soldiers.

The second new feature in the Polish minting system was the introduction of a one-złoty silver coin in physical form. Until then, the złoty was only a unit of account. As in the past, it was equal to 30 grosz. In fact, however, its real value was half that due to the high content of copper. The złoty was called a tymf, after the name of another Münzmeister – Andreas Tümphe (from the Northern Germany).

It is understandable that these two very new types of coins have been selected to present the Polish coinage system of that time. The obverse of the new coin features the reverse of a tymf, on which, below the crown, there is an uncharacteristic four-field escutcheon; the escutcheon is flanked by letters the A – T (Andreas Tümphe). The two upper fields of the escutcheon depict an Eagle and Pogoń [a mounted knight with a raised sword], the coat-of-arms of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, respectively. The lower field includes an inscription specifying the denomination of the coin: XXX GRO / ·POL·; in the central part: the Garb (Sheaf of Wheat of the House of Vasa). Along the rim, the inscription reads MONET[A]:NOV[A]: ARG[ENTEA]:REG[NI] POL[ONIAE] 1663, which means: “a new silver coin of the Kingdom of Poland”.

In the background of the reverse of the tymf, there is a mandatory certification in the form of a round imprint with data specifying the issuer of the contemporary coin, i.e. the Eagle, the inscription: RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA, the year of issue: 2018 and the face value of 20 złoty.

An architectural motif – a silhouette of a late-Baroque Camaldolese church (from the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries) funded by John Casimir in Wigry has been selected to make the coin more attractive, and, at the same time, to make those times more familiar. Using the laser ground printing technique, this motif has been placed in the empty field to the left side of the escutcheon as its background.

On the reverse of the new coin, we see the obverse of the tymf featuring a big regal monogram surmounted by the crown – ICR (Johannes Casimirus Rex). Circularly, along the rim, in two lines, there is an unusual inscription explaining the low quality of that coin: DAT·PRETIVM·SERVATA·SALVS· / POTIORQ3·METALLO EST, which means: “The value [of this coin] is defined by the preserved interests of [Rzeczpospolita (Commonwealth)], which is worth more than the metal”.

The described obverse of the złoty constitutes the background for the second coin, which is described in this brochure – a copper shilling. Due to the lack of space, only its obverse is presented. It depicts an antique stylized bust of King John Casimir, in a laurel wreath. The profile is surrounded by an inscription – the king’s names: IOAN· - CAS· REX. At the bottom, below the bust, there is the monogram of Tito Livio Burattini – T·L·B·.

Along the rim, a semi-circular inscription with the name of the new coin reads clockwise: BORATYNKA, TYMF JANA KAZIMIERZA.

Stanisław Suchodolski