18th century Hungarian gold coin tells a pair of stories
- Published: Oct 14, 2020, 10 AM
The legend of St. George slaying the dragon is a familiar one, especially to coin collectors, but also among folklorists in general.
A gold coin in Monnaies de Collection’s Oct. 29 auction in Monaco combines that familiar story with one from the Bible, on a coin that was issued and carried for good luck.
As the tale in Jacobus da Varagine’s medieval book of saints, Golden Legends, records, St. George was traveling in Libya when he reached a town that was home to a plague-infested dragon.
The residents tried to appease the dragon by first feeding it sheep and then humans, until the king’s daughter was selected by lottery as the dragon’s next meal. St. George happened to pass by the lake when the daughter (dressed as a bride) was being sent to her planned death.
Instead, St. George charged at the dragon, striking it with his lance and, with help from the princess, brought it into town. He offered to kill the dragon if the townspeople would convert to Christianity.
The scene of St. George and the dragon, with the princess in the background, is captured on the obverse of the undated gold 10-ducat coin.
About this coin
The coin is of the style issued by Christian Hermann Roth (1645 to 1690), in Kremnitz, which is in today’s Slovakia but in Roth’s time was under Hungarian rule.
The reverse of the coin shows Jesus and his apostles in a ship on a stormy sea (of Galilee), a scene familiar from three separate accounts in the Bible.
According to Gold Coins of the World by Arthur L. and Ira S. Friedberg (where this example is cataloged as Friedberg 565), the St. George coins of Kremnitz “have always been carried to bring good luck to the owner and protect him from harm.”
Since this coin lacks an artist’s signature, however, it is dated to the 18th century, according to Friedberg.
The coin weighs 34.68 grams and is graded Mint State 61 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
It has an opening bid of €8,000 ($9,396 U.S.). To learn more, visit the auction firm website, www.mdc.mc.
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