World Coins

‘Medieval’ medal is actually Austrian cast from 17th century

A “medieval” medal from Hungary was actually struck several centuries later, as part of a prolific program of propaganda pieces for the Holy Roman Empire.

Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

When is a medieval medal not a medieval medal?

The answer, it turns out, was available for purchase in Classical Numismatic Group’s Oct. 7 auction.

Though dated 1231 in Roman numerals, the pseudo-medieval medal was actually struck circa 1576 to 1657, according to the firm, for the Holy Roman Empire. This piece is part of a series long known as “Judenmedaille” from their supposed manufacture by Jewish minters in Prague. However, the medals were actually part of a very carefully thought out series designed to glorify the ancestors of the House of Hapsburg.

The piece in the CNG auction shows Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 to 1231) who had been the wife of Ludwig IV of Thuringia. The reverse shows the great church of St. Elizabeth in Marburg, construction of which began in 1235 when Elizabeth was canonized.

Though usually found in silver, the example sold by CNG is in gold, and was cast, measuring 52 millimeters in diameter.

The auction firm graded the piece as Very Fine and acknowledged that it appears to have once been mounted.

Still, the “medieval” medal realized a hammer price of $3,250 against an estimate of $2,000 (the buyer’s fee begins at 20 percent but varies based on bidding method).

The medal, once owned by Abe Kosoff, was most recently part of the collection of Dr. Lawrence A. Adams. 

Community Comments