numismatics, coins / medieval and renaissance coins

medieval and renaissance coins

Medieval coins, Prague groschens and tolars/thalers. After the demise of the Western Roman Empire barbarian coins were only exceptionally to be found; for the most part they were not used at all. On the British Isles coins were again minted in the 8th century by the archbishops of York and Canterbury. The Franks, however, were minting gold and silver denarii starting during the reign of Clovis I (reigned 481 – 511), the founder of the Carolingian dynasty. Charlemagne then abolished the gold sou and introduced a new silver livre carolinienne (Carolingian pound) equal to 240 deniers. The great ruler reserved a monopoly on the minting of coinage, and passed strict laws against counterfeiting. Those who dared disobey were subjected to some of the worst punishments devised by the medieval mind, such as being boiled alive in oil. The images on both obverse and reverse sides of these coins depict either specific rulers or Christian motifs. Coins made from gold were usually various types of ducats or sometinmes florins. Machines for manufacturing coins were introduced in the 16th century. In the period of the Italian Renaissance promissory notes developed into the first European bank notes (which, of course, had already been in use in China and were reported upon by Marco Polo and other travellers). In the Czech lands the original form of payment was a kind of scarf – 10 of them was equal to one denarius. The first minting of coins is documented in 960 (during the reign of Boleslav I.), when the “large” denarii were introduced first (10th century – 1st half of the 11th century), then later “small” denarii (2nd half of the 11th century – 1st half of the 13th century) and bracteates starting in the 13th century (these were thin coins about 40 mm in diameter with approximately 1 g of silver) appeared. These coins were the first to display the Bohemian emblem of the two-tailed lion. The development of minting was coeval with the rise of new cities and the opening up of new silver mines. In the 13th century there were 21 official mints operating in these territories. From the 14th century to the beginning of the 16th the quality of the groschens (denarius grossus) improved and the Prague groschen (grossus pragenses) that was later to be minted in Kutná Hora was the highest quality currency in Europe in its day. To give you an idea of what these coins were worth in the context of 14th century wages, a day labourer might have earned 4 - 6 groschens per week, while a carpenter brought in 16 – 20. It was possible to buy a cow for 22 – 55, and a block of butter or cheese or a knife cost one groschen. In the 15th century an average tradesman earned 2.5 groschen daily. A stone house standing on Prague’s Old Town Square would have cost as much as 12,000 groschen, but “only” 1200 on a side street, and a wooden home was a bargain at 360. If you were out shopping you’d spend ½ a groschen on a chicken and 4 for a new pair of shoes. At the beginning of the 16th century silver was discovered in the Joachimsthal valley. The silver mined there was minted into coins which were called Thaler in German or tolar in Czech (which, of course is the etymology of today’s dollar). 30 g of silver was worth 24 Prague groschen. 

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DENARIUS, Boleslav I. Bohemia, medieval coin replica

Catalog number: MCO22

Your Price: 3.00 €

   

Tin replica of a medieval coin from Bohemia. Size: 3 cm.

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DENARIUS, Bretislav I. Bohemia, XI. century coin replica

Catalog number: MCO21

Your Price: 3.00 €

   

Tin replica of a medieval coin from Bohemia. Size: 2 cm.

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Bohemia, Albrecht von Wallenstein 1586–1634 Ducat brass coin replica

Catalog number: MCO01

Your Price: 4.00 €

   

The rare Ducat of von Wallenstein from 1628 bears an unusual year on the reverse, 628. It seems that the engraver of the coin die erred in designing the type and there was not enough space for the missing figure 1.

Von Wallensteins gold

The commencement of minting of the coins of von Wallenstein resulted from the dukes conceited effort to equal other aristocrats of the Kingdom of Bohemia who possessed the regalia to mint coins. Profit from minting was not the primary motivation as von Wallenstein had grown immensely rich in issuing devalued governmental money in association with de Witte, which resulted in the destruction of the Czech currency, total economic disruption of the country and, subsequently, declaration of the state bankrupt in 1623. He literally wrote about the reasons for minting his own coins: Rather than for any benefit, I am doing it for reputation. Lacking in rich gold fields, von Wallenstein minted his Ducats from low-quality coins of others that he had withdrawn from circulation and reminted, and also by reusing jewellery.

Material: Brass. Weight: 2 g, Size: 21 mm.

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OTTO, 962 - 973, tin replica of a Frankish coin

Catalog number: MCO19

Your Price: 5.00 €

   
OTTO (962 - 973), tin replica of a Frankish coin. Hand casted with patina. Size: approx. 2.3 cm in a diameter.

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Matthias Corvinus, 1458 - 1490, replica of a coin

Catalog number: MCO18

Your Price: 6.00 €

   
Matthias Corvinus (1458 - 1490), Denarius, tin replica of a Hungarian coin. Hand casted with patina. Size: approx. 2.8 cm in a diameter.

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PIPIN III, 751 - 768, replica of a Frankish coin

Catalog number: MCO17

Your Price: 5.00 €

   

PIPIN III. (751 - 768), tin replica of a Frankish coin. Hand casted with patina. Size: approx. 1.7 cm in a diameter.

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MARIA, 1342 - 1382, Denarius, replica of a Hungarian coin

Catalog number: MCO20

Your Price: 6.00 €

   
MARIA (1342 - 1382), Denarius, tin replica of a Hungarian coin. Hand casted with patina. Size: approx. 2.8 cm in a diameter.

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Bracteat CIVI PRAG (silver 999)

Catalog number: MCO02

Your Price: 14.00 €

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Material: Silver .999, Weight: 0,6 g, Size: 37 mm.

Medieval town, two busts facing each under Romanic vault. Above bishop figure facing between two steeples, holding the crosier and cross scepter. CIVI PRAG in exergue. History: Founded in the latter part of the 9th century, Prague soon became the seat of the kings of Bohemia, some of whom later reigned also as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The city flourished during the 14th century reign of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New City, the Charles Bridge, Saint Vitus Cathedral, the oldest gothic cathedral in central Europe and actually inside the Castle, and the Charles University, the oldest university in central Europe north of the Alps. Prague was then the third-largest city in Europe.

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Bohemia, John the Blind 1310–1346 Florin, brass coin replica

Catalog number: MCO03

Your Price: 4.00 €

   

Material: Brass. Size: 21 mm

The Florin was the first Czech golden coin, minted since 1325. The minting of Czech Florins was rather a representative issue as Bohemia lacked larger resources of gold. The high quality of the Florins caused them to disappear from circulation – the coins were melted down, hidden away, or disappeared into foreign lands. The most frequently used coin in Bohemia was therefore the silver Prague grosch. The exchange rate was 16 Prague grosches to one Florin, which weighted approximately 3.53 grams with 990/1000 fineness. The minting of King Johns florins is mentioned in the Zbraslav Chronicle of Petr Žitavský. It says that in 1325 the work related to the minting of golden coins was initiated in Prague under the supervision of Lombardy (Florence – hence the name florin). The image on the Czech florins is very much the same as on their Italian models – golden coins of Florence bearing the heraldic lily on the face side and the figure of St. John the Baptist on the reverse side. The Czech origin of the coins can be distinguished only by the abbreviated face inscription JOHANNES REX BOEMIE.

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Templar Denarius, copper coin, replica

Catalog number: MCO04

Your Price: 5.00 €

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Material: Copper, Weight: 1,9 g, Size: 21 mm

A Seal of the Knights Templar, with their famous image of two knights on a single horse, a symbol of their early poverty.

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Moravia, Jobst of Luxembourg 1375 - 1411, Ducat, brass coin replica

Catalog number: MCO07

Your Price: 4.00 €

   
Material: Brass. Size: 21 mm.

IODOCVS : DEI GRACIA : Margrave standing facing, holding standard. A R in field. R: + MARCHIO : ET : DOMIN : MORAVIE Moravian blazon in field. It is very likely that there exist only two pieces of the disputable and unique Ducat of margrave of Moravia, Jobst. Disputes are still ongoing as to whether they are genuine coins or 19th century forgeries. However, the obverse of the coin carries a very trustworthy depiction of the margrave in purely Gothic style. Jobst reinstated the Brno mint and minted his own coins throughout his reign, including the limited issue of this Ducat. Jobst (Latin IODOCUS) of Luxembourg, Moravian margrave from the Luxembourg dynasty, Elector of Brandenburg, Roman king, the first-born son of margrave John Henry, the younger brother of Charles IV and Margaret of Opava. Jobst was a very able and skilled politician who ambitiously coveted more power and wealth and did not hesitate to change parties and opinions in the interest of his own goals. Together with his brothers, he strongly interfered with affairs of the Czech kingdom under the rule of their cousin Wenceslas IV. Jobst opposed the latter as candidate in the election of king of the Holy Roman Empire in 1410. The election was taking place in a situation where the earlier elected, crowned and in 1400 dethroned Roman king Wenceslas IV was still alive. The electors elected Sigismund as Roman king in September 1410. However, as he failed to receive the required number of votes, the election was repeated on October 1 and the electors voted for Jobst. But the latter enjoyed the title of Roman king briefly, from October 1, 1410 to January 18, 1411 as he died at Spilberk castle in Brno.

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Michael III 842 – 867 Solidus, brass coin replica

Catalog number: MCO08

Your Price: 4.00 €

   

Material: Brass. Size: 20 mm.

Gold Solidus of Byzantine Emperor Michael III, a find from grave No. 480 near the three-naved basilica in Mikulcice (Czech Republic). During the minority of Michael III, the empire was for the most part governed by his mother Theodora. From 856, the year in which her brother had ordered the murder of the minister Theoktistos and Theodora was forced to resign, the regency was assumed by commander Bardas, who was also entitled Caesar. Rastislav, a duke of Great Moravia, dispatched a message to Emperor Michael III in 862 with a request to send priests who would conduct divine services in the Slavonic language and lay the foundations of a proper church in Great Moravia. Although the population of Great Moravia had already acquainted itself with the church teaching of missionaries from the Kingdom of the East Franks, duke Rastislav feared the political and religious influence of German tribes and had the Latin speaking priests expelled from the country. Cyril and Methodius were chosen for the mission thanks to their knowledge of the language. As part of the preparation, Cyril devised an alphabet for the Slavonic language – the Glagolitsa – and together with his brother Methodius translated the liturgical books needed for divine services to old church Slavonic. After the assassination of Bardas in 865, Basileios (an Armenian stable hand by origin) became a co-ruler with Michael III but he also had his co-emperor and friend assassinated on September 23, 867, and became the founder of a new dynasty.

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Bohemia, Charles IV 1346 – 1378 Ducat, brass coin replica

Catalog number: MCO09

Your Price: 3.00 €

   

Material: Brass. Size: 22 mm.

The imperial Ducat of Charles IV coined after 1355. Unlike those of other European rulers, the Ducats of Charles IV were coined in only a small quantity due to the limited gold resources in the Jilove and Kasperske Hory gold ore mines. It is therefore a very precious Czech coin today. The obverse of the Ducat bears an authentic bust of the Bohemian king and Roman emperor Charles IV with the imperial insignia – the crown jewels.The Ducat, minted from almost pure gold, was the highest coin of the Gothic period and mostly served as legal tender only in international trade. Paradoxically, the quality of the Prague Groschen was declining in spite of the immense economic and political rise of Bohemia. The content of silver in the Groschen decreased to mere 75% by the end of the reign of Charles IV, while the first Prague Groschens contained about 93% silver when first introduced in 1300.

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Bohemia, Wenceslas II 1278 - 1305 Bracteat w. harpy, aluminum coin replica

Catalog number: MCO13

Your Price: 3.00 €

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Material: Aluminum. Size: 20 mm.

Bohemian and Polish king Wenceslas II performed a monetary reform in 1300, whereby he provided the land with a stable coin – the Prague Groschen. Thus, the monarchs Bracteates are the last Bohemian Bracteates. The history of the Bracteates: In 1210 king Ottokar I abandoned the minting of traditional Denarii due to their considerable devaluation at the time and had a new coin minted – the Bracteate (from the Latin bractea – a thin piece of metal). The Bracteate was a single-sided coin minted from a very thin piece of metal, mostly silver and exceptionally gold or copper. These Bracteates were struck on the model of the Meissen ones and Ottokar I had them minted because of the massive inflow of the Miessen Bracteates, South German Hellers and Viennese Pfennigs to the Czech lands in connection with the colonisation wave. Attempting to restore validity of his regalia to mint coins, the Czech king was issuing coins the people could have confidence in. Thus, a reliable coin was introduced once again with a nominal value nearly equal to the value of the metal it contained.

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Bohemia, Albrecht von Wallenstein 1583 - 1634, Thaler 1626, aluminum coin replica

Catalog number: MCO15

Your Price: 5.00 €

The product is unavailable and cannot be ordered

Material: Aluminum. Size: 41 mm.

Unissued Thaler of von Wallenstein: The coin dies for the first Thalers of von Wallenstein were most likely supplied by K. Engelhardt, engraver of the Prague mint. He engraved (allegedly twice) a portrait of von Wallenstein in such an unsightly manner that the provincial Frydlant hauptmann Taxis did not dare to use the coin dies for minting and preferred to commission new dies from an anonymous Moravian engraver. The first rare Thalers of von Wallenstein, about 2,000 of which were minted in 1626, bore a type on the reverse reading DOMINUS PROTECTOR MEUS. However, the epigraph was used without von Wallensteins awareness, and after seeing the samples, von Wallenstein had it replaced by his familys epigraph INVITA INVIDIA (Against Envy). Yet he changed his mind just two days later, in favour of a type reading SACRI ROMANI IMPERII PRINCEPS, which he thought better expressed his prominent position in the empire. Although it is often mentioned that the epigraph INVITA INVIDIA was used on von Wallensteins coins, this is not the case. It appears that Thalers with such a type have never been minted.

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