World Coins

German taler celebrates installment of new king

The wave of revolutions sweeping across Europe in 1848 created no less a royal casualty than King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

Following the lead of French supporters who ushered in the Second Republic, German citizens from several ranks demanded more rights than the king had previously been willing to grant. So he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Maximilian.

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This event is captured on a silver coin from 1848 that is being offered for sale in an October auction in Munich. Gorny and Mosch, which offers the coin during the firm’s Oct. 11 to 13 auctions, terms the coin a “geschichtsdoppeltaler,” or historical double taler.

The coin is part of a long series of commemorative pieces issued beginning in 1825. Of those, 38 were issued during the reign of Ludwig I, according to John Davenport, writing in German Talers Since 1800. These pieces were denominated or called convention talers through 1835, after which time they were classified as double talers.

The obverse of the particular piece in the auction (classified as Davenport 597) depicts a bust of King Ludwig I.

The reverse depicts the king passing the crown to his son, with a legend explaining the transition, the date of which appears below the scene.

“Designed by the engraver of the Munich mint, Carl Friedrich Voight, [these commemorative pieces] present a striking commentary on events in Bavaria from 1825 to 1856,” Davenport wrote. “A number of these were not released until some years after the dates they bear.”

Davenport does not explain when talers of this particular type were released, whether that was amid the passions of an inflamed populace seeking justice or after the flames had died.

Fighters in the March Revolution in Germany desired a unified Germany with a monarch as its head, and the German revolution that was sparked in 1848 continued into late 1849.

However, divisions with some of the 38 other states (besides Bavaria) explain why Germany did not unify until 1870.

An iconic moment during the movement came on March 19, 1848, when revolutionaries marched in Berlin, waving the predecessor to today’s German flag, the tri-color bands inspired by the French tri-color flag of the nascent revolution not too far away from Germany’s modern capital.

The day after the march, as noted on the reverse of the taler in the auction, the new king was crowned, the March 20 date shown in German.

The auction house classifies the example in its auction as “Very rare,” a “first strike” and in Proof (fleur de coin) condition.

The taler carries an estimate of €5,000 ($6,037).

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