World Coins

Coin celebrates Polish Order of the White Eagle

The so-called Order taler from 1705 celebrates the inaugural issuance of Poland’s Order of the White Eagle.

Images courtesy of Fritz Rudolf Künker.

Poland’s Order of the White Eagle was founded in 1705 by King Augustus the Strong II as he and his allies fought a war against Sweden. The award was modeled on Prussia’s Order of the Black Eagle, which was instituted in 1701. 

To commemorate awarding the first group of medals to honorees, the king (as elector Frederick August I), issued a 1705 commemorative taler that depicts the award. A rare example of this coin highlights Fritz Rudolf Künker’s Oct. 9 auction No. 314. 

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The Order of the White Eagle is Poland’s highest order, and is awarded to both civilians and the military. It was officially instituted on Nov. 1, 1705, during the Polish civil war of 1704 to 1706, and bestowed on eight of Augustus II the Strong’s closest diplomatic and political supporters.

Today the order is awarded to the most distinguished Poles and the highest-ranking representatives of foreign countries. The Order of the White Eagle medal is attached to a blue ribbon slung over the left shoulder to the right side. 

August the Strong created the award while leading one faction in the Polish civil war. Poland and its allies, Denmark and Russia, had attacked Sweden in 1700, and had been driven back by Sweden’s Charles XII. After Augustus sought peace negotiations with Charles, the Swedish ruler, wanting a more pliable ruler on Poland’s throne, instead placed his own man on throne in 1704. Following a series of defeats, August yielded the throne to Charles’ man in 1706.

The coin shows the ruler on the obverse and the earliest iteration of the order on the reverse.

The first sign of the White Eagle was an oval medallion. It was enameled red and had on the front an image of the Polish eagle and an inscription translating to “For Faith, King and Law,” and on the back the Royal Monogram AR (Augustus Rex, August the Strong), surrounded by a green laurel wreath. That medallion was worn on a narrow blue ribbon around the neck.

The commemorative coin is of great rarity, and is in About Uncirculated condition, according to the auction house.

It has an estimate of €20,000 ($23,180 U.S.). 

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