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Zoomable Image of Box Thaler containing a portrait of a Young Gentleman

Box Thaler containing a portrait of a Young Gentleman

German School , Seventeenth Century

Box Thaler containing a portrait of a Young Gentleman

German School , Seventeenth Century

Purchase Enquiries

Phone +44(0)20 7499 6818

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Price:

£800

Materials:

Oil on metal alloy

Dimensions:

Circular, 1 ½ in (38 mm) diameter

Inscriptions:

Obverse inscription: 'HEINRI DVX.SA FIE.F 1540'. Reverse inscription: 'ARCHIMARS CHAL.ET.ELEC'.

The reverse of this coin has the remnants of gold colouring, suggesting that this coin was a purpose-made box thaler to be worn decoratively, rather than a thaler which had been hollowed out…

The obverse of this box thaler depicts Duke Henry of the Albertine line during the reign of Johann Friedrich I, Elector of Saxony (1532-1547) and would have originally been the reverse of a coin (with Johann Friedrich I on the obverse). Henry’s armoured image, clutching a sword, is surrounded by an inscription which is broken up by four shields, the coat of arms of the Electorate (top), the arms of Meissen (right), Thuringia (bottom) and Saxony (left). There is also the mintmaster sign, a small cross in a circle, for N. Streubel who was producing coins between 1539 and 1545 in Annaberg.[1]

The reverse of this coin has the remnants of gold colouring, suggesting that this coin was a purpose-made box thaler to be worn decoratively, rather than a thaler which had been hollowed out. This thaler, supposedly dating to 1540, looks as though it was printed rather than hammered which was not possible until at least 1567 when coin-pressing machines were introduced.

The coat of arms on the reverse of this box thaler is the coin design used during the reign of Augustus I, Elector of Saxony (1553-1586) and is made up of three helmets adorning a shield, which in turn is made up of 13-fold arms.[2] The letter inscription ARCHIMARS CHAL.ET.ELEC translates to ‘arch-marshal and elector’. During Augustus’ reign he reorganised the coin system of Saxony and the state experienced tremendous economic growth.

Schraubthalers, often known as box thalers, were coins in two halves which could be unscrewed to reveal a miniature portrait or a religious symbol hidden inside. Box thalers quickly became popular throughout Europe and with the introduction of machine-produced coins, box thalers could be purpose-made at the mint.[3]This box thaler contains a portrait of an unknown gentleman in traditional seventeenth-century German or Dutch dress, dressed in black with a large white collar.


[1]The Kittredge Collection.

[2]B. Hobson and R. Obojski, Illustrated Encyclopaedia of World Coins, (London, 1971) p.172.

[3]B. Hobson and R. Obojski, Illustrated Encyclopaedia of World Coins, (London, 1971) p.157; G. Förschner, Kleinkunst in Silber, Schraubt (Melsungen, 1978).

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