World Coins

Art inspires art on classic German coin

This 1522 silver show taler from Saxony realized a hammer price of €17,000 ($17,834 U.S.).

Images courtesy of Fritz Rudolf Künker.

Art begets art, the saying goes, and a highlight from a recent German auction is evidence of the principle in action.

A 1522 silver show taler from Saxony, featuring an image inspired by a classic German painting, realized a hammer price of €17,000 ($17,834 U.S.) against an estimate of €7,500 ($7,868 U.S.) during Fritz Rudolf Künker’s June 20 auction No. 368 of “Saxonia in Nummis – The Dr. Walter Kemlein Collection.” This was the first of four auctions from the firm across five days. The final sale price includes a variable buyer’s fee and taxes based on bidder location.

Art inspires art

The obverse of the show taler depicts Frederick III the Wise, (1486 to 1525), Protector of Martin Luther and the Duke of Saxony.

The piece was struck in Nuremberg and features a design by artist Hans Krafft, after a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, according to the firm (while art historians offer “circa 1525” as the date of the portrait, it could have preceded the coin).

The coin bears on the reverse the initials of the motto of Frederick the Wise: C(rux) C(hristi) N(ostra) S(alus), which translates to “The Cross of Christ is our salvation.”

Since the Saxon King Frederick August III, as a Catholic, could not or did not want to appear on a coin for the Reformation anniversary, Luther’s protector Frederick the Wise was resorted to.

According to Künker, the coin grades Very Fine and has a “pretty patina.”

In 1917, for commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Reformation, this show taler was chosen as the model for the commemorative silver 3 marks coin.

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