World Coins

Early silver taler from Bohemia in Künker sale

An early example of the Joachimstaler silver coin (that would influence the word dollar) appears in a Jan. 30 Fritz Rudolph Künker auction in Berlin.

Images courtesy of Fritz Rudolph Künker.

The silver taler is a renowned denomination of coin, with its origins in 1486 in Hall in Tyrol.

But the coin that actually gave the denomination its name wouldn’t follow until 1520, struck in Joachimstal, a town in Bohemia, Czech Republic, that is now known as Jáchymov.

A relatively early example of this silver coin is one of the 1,076 lots of items being offered at auction Jan. 30 in Berlin, prior to the World Money Fair.  

The 1526 taler was issued by the brothers Stephan, Burian, Heinrich, Hieronymus and Lorenz von Schlick, for Ludwig II, King of Hungary and Bohemia. 

The coin was struck at the mint that gave the denomination its name, from silver mined in the region and depicting the saint that the region was named for. 

The story of the joachimstalers

Under Count Stephan, rich silver deposits were discovered in 1516 in Konradsgrün on the southern slope of the Ore Mountains. A thriving mountain town quickly emerged in the wilderness. In 1517, the village was renamed St. Joachimstal, as other mountain mining towns had been named for other saints. 

In 1520, Stephen and his brothers were granted the right by the Bohemian Landtag to mint silver coins, which were to show on one side the coat of arms of the Bohemian king (a lion) and on the other hand St. Joachim with the coat of arms of the counts Schlick. 

The document, which is still preserved today, was prepared in the Czech language. 

The “St. Joachimstaler” Guldengroschen enjoyed great popularity. Its name was quickly shortened to taler, the name by which the leading coins of the type for the following four centuries would be known and which still lives on today in the American word dollar. 

After eight years, King Ferdinand I initiated the cessation of the mint and took over Joachimstal as the third royal mint in Bohemia, alongside Kuttenberg and Prague. 

The example in the Künker auction is in Extremely Fine condition, which the auction house notes is very rare for the coin. 

It has an estimate of €3,000 ($3,353 U.S.). 

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