Jacopo Strada‘s Magnum ac Novum Opus: A Sixteenth-Century Numismatic Corpus

When the Swedes plundered the art chamber of the Duke of Bavaria in Munich during the Thirty Years' War, the most famous object was the corpus of numismatic drawings by Jacopo Strada, Magnum ac Novum Opus continens descriptionem vitae, imaginum, numismatum omnium tam Orientalium quam Occidentalium Imperatorum ac Tyrannorum, cum collegis ac coniugibus liberisque suis, usque ad Carolum V. Imperatorem. The 30 volumes with the mainly imperial coins eventually ended up in the library of Duke Ernst the Pious of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, today's Gotha Research Library (Chart. A 2175, 1-14, 16-30). Strada probably received a ducat for each of the approximately 8,500 drawings, executed in pen and ink on folio. They had been commissioned from him by his first patron, Hans Jakob Fugger. Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria later acquired the loose sheets, together with Fugger's library and collection. He had them magnificently bound in red leather and had the covers decorated with his portrait and coat of arms.

Although this coin corpus was highly valued at the time, it has not been studied in greater detail to this day. The reasons for this lie in the upsurge of scientific numismatic research at the end of the 18th century. Since the corpus no longer met their demands, it lost much of its reputation.

Duke Albrecht had not acquired Strada's coin descriptions, which, according to Strada, should be complementary to the coin drawings. They are a separate work, surviving in two copies in Vienna and Prague, entitled A<ureorum> A<rgenteorum> A<ereorum> NumismatΩn Antiquorum ΔΙΑΣΚΕΥΕ. Therefore, its descriptions were never compared with the volumes of drawings. These eleven volumes contain structured and methodical descriptions, annotations and indications of provenance where Strada claims to have seen the coins. This allows for a close examination of Strada's interpretations of the coins, which in turn opens up the possibility of studying the approach of the antiquarians of the time in detail.

The most important prerequisite for these comparative studies was the digitisation of drawings and texts in order to be able to compare them. The coins and descriptions, if an antique original can be identified as a model, will be entered into the database of the Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture known in the Renaissance, our project partner. The coin descriptions will also be entered into the database "Translatio Nummorum" (KHI Florence) in order to make the text and the coin drawings not associated with an antique original accessible.

As a result of the project, a digital edition of the drawings of Strada's Magnum ac novum opus and the accompanying descriptions of the A<ureorum> A<rgenteorum> A<ereorum> NumismatΩn Antiquorum ΔΙΑΣΚΕΥΕ is to be produced, which will be generally accessible via the databases of the Census and the KHI in Florence.

In a monograph, selected drawings by Strada will be published and annotated together with the coin descriptions. It will also contain a description of the condition of the material,

information on its origin and a reconstruction of the sequence of the coin drawings as Strada had originally planned it. Furthermore, the Magnum ac novum opus will be placed in the scientific history of numismatics and in the context of antiquarian studies in the 16th century. In addition, a selection of transcriptions and translations of the most important passages are published in the appendix.

Project head

Holder of the professorship Wissenskulturen der Europäischen Neuzeit
(Faculty of Philosophy)

Senior researcher

Dr. Volker Heenes
+49 361 737-1732

Dr. Dirk Jacob Jansen
+49 361 737-1731

Project location

Forschungszentrum Gotha der Universität Erfurt
Schloßberg 2 
99867 Gotha



Title Jacopo Strada, Magnum ac Novum Opus continens descriptionem vitae_
obverse of a coin of Vespersian
reverse of a coin of Vespasian

Illustration: Jacopo Strada, Magnum ac Novum Opus continens descriptionem vitae, imaginum, numismatum omnium tam Orientalium quam Occidentalium Imperatorum ac Tyrannorum, cum collegis ac coniugibus liberisque suis, usque ad Carolum V. Imperatorem, Forschungsbibliothek Gotha, ms. Chart. A 2175, vol. 1, fol. vi r., title page; obverse and reverse of a coin of Vespasian, ibidem, vol. 11, fols. 16r. and 17r.


Cyprian, E.S., Catalogus Codicum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecae Gothanae, Leipzig,1714, 83–87

Hartig, Otto: Die Gründung der Münchener Hofbibliothek durch Albrecht v. und Johann

Jakob Fugger (Abh. d. Königl. Bayer. Akad. d. Wiss., Phil.- Hist. Kl. 28/3), München 1917, 46, 214–215, 324–328

Von Busch, Renate: Exkurs: Jacopo da Strada, in: Studien zu deutschen Antikensammlungen des 16. Jahrhunderts (Diss. Universität Tübingen), Tübingen1973, 193–219

Jansen, Dirk Jacob: Jacopo Strada’s Antiquarian Interests: A Survey of his Musaeum and its Purpose, in: Xenia: Semestrale di Antichità, 21, 1991, 59–76

Jansen, Dirk Jacob: Antonio Agustín and Jacopo Strada, in: Michael Crawford [ed.], Antonio Agustín between Renaissance and Counter-Reform ( Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts 24), London 1993, 211–245

Heenes, Volker: Jacopo Strada: Goldschmied und Maler, Antiken- und Münzhändler, Sammler und Antiquarius Caesareus in: Vorwelten und Vorzeiten. Archäologie als Spiegel historischen Bewußtseins in der Frühen Neuzeit (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 124), hg. von D. Hakelberg – I. Wiwjorra, Wiesbaden 2010, 295-310

Jansen, Dirk Jacob: Jacopo Strada and Cultural Patronage at The Imperial Court: The Antique as Innovation (Rulers and Elites: Comparative Studies in Governance 17/1–2), 2 vols., Leiden 2019; Open Access: https://brill.com/downloadpdf/title/35818 , Ch. 3.3, 125–132

Heenes, Volker: Jacopo Strada in: INC Compte Rendu 66, 2019, 17-34

Heenes, Volker: Copies of ancient coins and inventions all’antica in the work of Jacopo Strada in: Online Zeitschrift zur Antiken Numismatik 2, 2020, 53-83 URL: https://doi.org/10.17879/ozean-2020-2914

Kulawik, Bernd: Rom in Gotha. Antike Architektur in Jacopo Strada Gothaer Münzzeichnungen (Schriftenreihe des Freundeskreises der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha e.v., 4), Gotha 2021

In Vorbereitung:

Heenes, Volker / Jansen, Dirk Jacob: Jacopo Strada’s Magnum ac Novum Opus: A Sixteenth-Century Corpus Of Ancient Numismatics (Cyriacus. Studien zur Rezeption der Antike), Berlin 2021