MALTA. 30 Tari Siege Ingot, 1800 – EXTREMELY RARE.
On 9 June 1798 while on his way to Egypt, Napoleon with his expeditionary force of over 30,000 men arrived off the heavily fortified port city and capital of Malta, Valletta. Upon reaching the island he sought fresh water and other provisions demanding that his entire force be allowed to land.
Trying to stay neutral Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim refused Napoleon’s demand and insisted that only four ships could land at a time. Once his demands were refused Napoleon ordered his fleet to bombard the city and then on the 11 June landing an assault force of several thousand men at seven strategic locations around the island.
Once the city of Mdina fell to the French the native militia of about 2,000 men retreated to the capital. Though Valletta had the resources to hold out for a prolonged period of time Napoleon negotiated a surrender with Hompesch.
On 19 June after the conquest of the island Napoleon departed for Egypt and left General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois in charge with 4,000 men. Learning of the French invasion of Malta while in Sicily, British Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson attempted to intercept the French Fleet, but overshot them under cover of night on the 22 June without discovering their presence.
On 28 June he arrived off Alexandria ahead of Napoleon and with the absence of the French, Nelson believed that they must have a different objective. Nelson then divided his forces sending a squadron to blockade Malta with the remainder being turned northward to investigate, missing Napoleon by 24 hours.
The Destruction of L’Orient at the Battle of the Nile”
George Arnald, 1827, National Maritime Museum, in Greenwich, London, England
Once reaching Egypt the unopposed Napoleon ordered his fleet to anchor in Aboukir Bay and turned his forces inland. On 1 August Nelson returning to the Egyptian coast, found the French fleet anchored and immediately began attacking. Taking only moderate damage he destroyed the French fleet, capturing nine ships and destroying two including their flagship the Orient.
During the occupation the native Maltese rebelled against the French and on 2 September drove them to the capital. On 29 December 1798 the British and the Russians signed a convention in St. Petersburg stating that upon the surrender of the French, Malta would be supplied a garrison consisting of British, Naples and Russian forces.
After a brief stint off the island Russian admiral Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov was ordered to join the Russo-Turkish forces besieging the island of Corfu. In early 1799 the French were able to get several ships through the blockade to replenish the dwindling resources. Several requests were sent to the Russian admiral for his return to Malta, but were ignored as his fleet was in secret disrepair and he was awaiting orders from Czar Paul I.
While corresponding with Nelson, Ushakov told the British Rear-admiral that with his ships and 2,000 men he would depart from Naples on 17 November, but never did. In fact Ushakov had planned on returning to the Black Sea instead of Malta, but ended up staying in Corfu until July 1800.
In the early summer of 1800 the British blockade continued to prevent French forces from resupplying the besieged Valletta. Nelson had sent several requests for the surrender of the city to which the French took great insult. By the end of the siege due to the lack of sufficient provisions more than 100 people were dying per day.
On 4 September Vaubois dispatched an envoy to the British to discuss and sign the terms of surrender with Vaubois and Villeneuve. After the surrender of the French forces Malta became a British protectorate until it obtained independence in 1964.
The siege ingots of Malta as issued by the French in 1799-1800 mark the last coins actually struck in Malta, all of which are of the utmost rarity. Pierced at 9 o’clock. Lightly toned.
This ingot is being sold at the Stacks Bowers January 2016 NYINC world coin auction in New York as Lot # 41216
Estimate: $70,000.00 – $90,000.00
Pedigree: Ex: Numismatica Ars Classica Auction # 58 “The Restelli Collection” Lot# 431 where it hammered for 80,000 CHF. Purchased from Barrera, Torino 1971.