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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 1, Lot: 187. Estimate CHF15000. 
Closing Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2009. 
Sold For CHF15500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

GERMANY, Sachsen-Ernestinische Linie. Friedrich III, the Wise, and Johann. 1486-1525. Thick Guldengroschen (Silver, 28.98 g 12), Buchholz, 1525. FRI.DVX.SAX.S.RO IMP.ELE DEI.GRA/VERBVM.DOMINI.MANET.IN ÆTERNV Draped bust of Friedrich to right, wearing soft hat; around, double circle of inscriptions with the outer divided by four shields Rev. .IOHAN.DVX.SAX .M.D.XXV. DEI.GRA/VERBVM.DOMINI.MANET.IN ÆTERNV.T. Draped bust of Johann to left, wearing soft hat with elaborate visor; around, double circle of inscriptions with the outer divided by four shields. Dav. 9712. Keilitz & Kohl 84. Schnee 49. Schulten 2971. Very rare. Lightly toned and particularly attractive. About extremely fine.

Friedrich the Wise was one of the great figures of the German Reformation. He was born in 1463 as the eldest son of the Elector Ernst and succeeded to the throne of what became known as Ernestine Saxony with his younger brother Johann in 1486 (the Saxon state and ruling house had been partitioned into the Ernestine and Albertine Lines in 1485). Friedrich was a very canny diplomat and kept his duchy free from war during his reign. In 1502 he founded the University of Wittenberg, which later became a major force in German Protestant thinking. While personally devout, he protected Luther from the Inquisition because he believed that the church desperately needed reform. Johann, Friedrich’s co-ruler and younger brother, inherited the throne in 1525 and ruled until his death in 1532. He continued his brother’s policies.

The name ‘Guldengroschen’ means ‘a groschen worth a gulden’ (up until the introduction of this denomination the largest silver coins in the German-speaking world were groschens, which were relatively small - the Gulden was then the name of the standard gold coin, later largely replaced by the Ducat). A few years after this coin was issued the Guldengroschen were replaced by Thalers, which were of roughly the same size and weight but of slightly lower fineness. This coin is remarkable for its relatively small size and thick flan; the dies were actually made for the half-denomination, but such thick strikes were a specialty of the Saxon minters (the coin was struck in Buchholz, a district of Annaberg in the mining area of Saxony).