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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 3. Estimate CHF50000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF60000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Holy Roman Empire. Maximilian I. 1508-1519. Medal (Silver, 84mm, 127.1 g 12), on the pardon of Franz von Sickingen, 1518. COLE.DEVM.EXIN.PVBLICA.AMA.IVSTVMQVE.TVERE.MDCXVIII Crowned and armored bust of Maximilian I to right, wearing collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece and a richly engraved cuirass, and holding a sword in his right hand and a scepter in his left. Rev. ARMIS MERCVRIVM SI NON PRAEPONAS MAXIME CAESAR SEMPER ERIS VICTOR FAVSTAQVE REGNA TENENS (on a ribbon beginning in the field before Franz von Sickingen’s mouth and continuing around the coin). Franz von Sickingen, bare-headed but in full armor, kneeling to right with a shield bearing his arms below, the letters F.V.S in the field behind him, and holding the end of the ribbon bearing his words; before him to right, the Emperor Maximilian, crowned, in full regalia, holding scepter and globus cruciger, and wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece, seated to left on a throne ornamented with the imperial eagle. Domanig -. Habich I, 25 var. . Extremely rare and important. An original cast with finely worked details; a remarkably impressive example of early 16th century metal work. Unevenly toned, otherwise, extremely fine.

This is actually quite a stupendous medal: it is cast in high relief and the workmanship of the details, cut in after casting, is masterful. The actual maker of the medal is unknown, but the design was probably that of Hans Burgkmair the Elder (1473-1531), who was active working on projects for Maximilian I from 1508 through 1519. Franz von Sickingen (1481-1523), who appears seeking pardon from the Emperor on the reverse of this medal, was one of the great characters of the early 16th century. He was a soldier who had served Maximilian I, but after inheriting some extensive estates along the Rhine he began interfering in local affairs. He attacked Worms, Lorraine, Hesse and Metz, ostensibly in support of dissident groups, but primarily for ransoms, and soon came under an imperial ban. This medallion records his successful plea to be released from that ban, on pretense of future good behavior. After Maximilian’s death in 1519 Sickingen continued to create discord, and finally was one of the chief leaders of the Knight’s Revolt of 1522, which was basically a Protestant reaction to the Catholic opponents of Luther. It failed and Sickingen was cornered in his castle of Landstuhl and forced to surrender thanks to the powerful artillery of his enemies, which destroyed his fortifications. He died the day after the surrender. In later times Franz von Sickingen was considered the ‘last knight’ in the tradition of the Middle Ages.