Macutas cunhagem para Angola,1814 a 1816 (Foto: Edouard Fraipont)


Numismática: a dialogue between coins and works

The Coleção Brasiliana – Espaço Olavo Setubal presents coins and medals from the Itaú Cultural collection displayed from the point of view of art allied to technology. The iconography prevails over any other possible readings of these tiny objects.


A larger collection of 6,919 pieces has been whittled down to 420, made from a range of materials—gold, silver, copper and even wood—for display. There are coins, medals, weights, assays, decorations and a whole host of other objects from the monetary universe—visitors will have the chance to view the rarest and most beautiful pieces of Brazilian numismatics.


From the earliest times we have highlighted the prestigious coin of Dom Manuel, the Blessed - O Português, "The Portuguese" - undoubtedly among coins that Pedro Alvares Cabral was carrying in his chests on discovering Brazil; extremely rare florins, witness to the Dutch presence in Brazil; and Dom João V's famous doubloons, the largest and heaviest gold coins ever produced by mankind, testifying to Brazil's former wealth and opulence.


There are also medals celebrating significant buildings, people and beautiful landscapes of nineteenth-century Rio de Janeiro, then Brazil's capital, and other coins and medals that have been stamped, like the Piratini Stamp: these were produced in a range of Brazilian provinces, bearing witness to the power of multi-faceted Brazil.


We may say that coins and medals set the tone for the "Imperial Brazil" module. Among countless coins, medals and decorations of the reigns of Dom João, Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro II that are on show, especially worth viewing are the copper macutas, produced in Brazil to be the Angolan currency.


Then there are the balastracas made during the Paraguay War. The famous Order of the Rose created by Emperor Dom Pedro I to perpetuate the memory of his wedding day to his second wife, Dona Amélia. And finally, the most important coin in the collection - the most valuable coin in all of Brazilian numismatics: the Peça da Coroação [Coronation Piece] that Dom Pedro I refused to allow to enter circulation because of certain unacceptable flaws it contained. There are only 15 others like it in the world today.


We have often been told that coins tell Brazil's history. But we have tried to go beyond this in the present exhibition, fostering a dialogue between coins, objets d'art and technology: this was one of the most intriguing challenges we faced



Vagner Carvalheiro Porto