Topics of coins

The szóstak (six grosz) of John III Sobieski

Minting activity during the reign of John III Sobieski (1674−1696) lasted for a short period of time. The mint of Bydgoszcz became operational only in 1677 and the mint in Kraków – in 1679, but they were shut down as early as in 1685. This implies that during the almost two decadxe-long reign, coins were struck for only 8 years. These were mostly silver crown coins: the trojak (three grosz), szóstak (six grosz) and ort (18 grosz) coins, and a small amount of gold coins. The szóstak was the most popular one. The obverse of the coin features the bust of the King in ancient style, wearing a toga and a laurel wreath. The bust is surrounded by the legend: IOAN[nes] III. D[ei].G[ratia] REX POL[oniae] M[agnus]. D[ux].L[ituaniae].R[ussiae].P[russiae], which means ”John III, by the Grace of God, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Prussia.” Below the bust, there are the initials T.L.B. of Titus Livius Boratini, the lessee of the two mints.

The reverse shows, below the crown, a Roman numeral, VI, and three escutcheons with the coats-of-arms of Poland, Lithuania and Janina (of the Sobieskis). Along the rim, there is an inscription: GROS[si]. ARG[entei].SEX – REG[ni].POLONIAE, i.e. “The silver six grosz coin of the Kingdom of Poland”. In the middle of the inscription, there is the coatof- arms Leliwa of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn, the Grand Treasurer of the Crown. At the bottom, the date 16–82 divided by the escutcheon of the Sobieskis.

It is obvious that the image of this coin, which was representative for the minting activity of the King, should be shown on a new coin of NBP. The main side of the new coin depicts the reverse of the szóstak and, traditionally, a small round stamp with an inscription: Rzeczpospolita Polska (Republic of Poland), the image of the Eagle established as the emblem of the Republic of Poland, the face value of 20 ZŁ and the year of issue: 2019. Above the bust, there is a fragment of the bas-relief from Wilanów Palace showing John Sobieski on horseback shortly before the royal coronation.

On the reverse side of the coin you can see the obverse of the six-grosz coin, and on its right side there is the Eagle bearing on its breast the Janina coat-ofarms from the armorial of Wacław Potocki of 1696. An inscription on the left side: SZÓSTAK JANA SOBIESKIEGO (six grosz coin of John Sobieski) completes the design.

Stanisław Suchodolski