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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton VII, Lot: 1416. Estimate $750. 
Closing Date: Monday, 12 January 2004. 
Sold For $1200. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

WORLD. BALTIC HOARD. Hungary. Lot of three hundred eleven AR Denars. Madonna / Coat-of-arms. All dated, with dates ranging from 1528 to 1616. Good range of dates, with no heavy concentration in one year. Average Fine or better. LOT SOLD AS IS, NO RETURNS. Three hundred eleven (311) coins in lot. ($750)

INTRO FOR BALTIC HOARD LOTS: A Baltic Hoard of the Thirty Years’ War

The Thirty Years’ War erupted in 1618, the result of two contenders vying for the vacant throne of Bohemia. The Protestant Frederick, the elector palatine and his rival the Catholic Ferdinand of Austria were the initial contenders, although Frederick, the “Winter King” of Bohemia renounced his claim to the throne in 1622. By then other European powers seeking political and territorial advantage in Germany were using the opportunity to expand the war. Denmark, England, France, the Italian states, the Lowlands, Poland, Sweden and Spain all pursued their own ambitions. Thus began the most devastating conflict ever fought on European soil.

For the first time large, professional armies took to the field, and made use of modern firearms on a regular basis. Massive casualties resulted on all sides, accompanied by horrific scenes of looting and plunder, as poorly trained armies were forced to collect their supplies from the countryside, since no organized supply system existed. Germany still showed the signs of the devastation one hundred years after the end of the war.

While the worst carnage occurred in southern Germany and along the French border, northern Germany was also a theater of conflict. Wallenstein and Tilly led Catholic imperial forces into Pomerania and along the Baltic coast, where they engaged the armies of Christian IV of Denmark and Gabriel Bethlen of Hungary. The imperial generals drove all before them, defeating Bethlen and seizing most of the Danish forts along the Baltic by 1628. At this point Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who had been engaged in his own war with Poland since 1621, was encouraged to join the fray on the Protestant side. The professionally trained and well-equipped Swedish army repulsed all efforts by the imperial armies to extend their sway, but the death of Gustavus Adolphus at Lützen in 1632 ensured that the war would continue to its inconclusive end in 1648.

The composition of the hoard of which these coins are part suggests it was deposited somewhere along the Baltic coast. Approximately one-third of the pieces are coins of the city of Riga, the capital of modern Latvia. When this city was taken by Gustavus Adolphus in 1621 the civic coinage in the name of the Polish kings ended, to be replaced by that of the kings of Sweden. The latest dated coins in the hoard are Polish-Lithuanian issues of 1626 and that fact, coupled with the quantity of Hungarian denars in the deposit, suggests it may have been buried during the campaigns of 1626-1628. This was the period when Wallenstein and Tilly drove Gabriel Bethlen back to Hungary and were reducing the last Protestant strongholds along the Baltic coast, prior to the arrival on the scene of the armies of Sweden.