Although there is no information about coinage in what was the Duchy of Venice (a semi-independent entity within the Byzantine Empire from which the Republic of Venice originated), ancient historians such as Andrea Dandolo and Marin Sanudo mention that the privilege of coinage was given to Venice by the kings of Italy Rudolph II (in 921) and Berengar II (in 950); however, it is more likely that this privilege had been granted by Byzantine emperors, as coins with the names of Venice and the name of German emperors Louis I (814-840) and Lothair I (840-855) had been already in circulation before the aforementioned dates. From around 1031, there are records of coins minted under doge Ottone Orseolo, while in 1193-1202 Enrico Dandolo issued in Venice the silver coin called Matapan, named after the Greek promontory.
The most common type of Venetian coin is the ducati; this had the doge's image receiving the standard from St. Mark on the obverse. The zecchino had on the reverse Christ within an oval (mandorla), which also contained nine stars. The zecchini remained unchanged from the first issue, in 1284, to the last one, during the reign of the last doge of Venice in 1796, Ludovico Manin.
The mint of the Republic's coins was located in Venice, in the Palazzo della Zecca. The coinage was rigidly controlled by the Quarantia, an assembly with financial-economical tasks, also acting as Supreme Court.