World Coins

German rarity a wartime necessity

A 1632 silver half taler of Erfurt, Germany, under Swedish control is an accessory to a larger story of European power struggles.

During his reign, which lasted from 1611 to 1632, King Gustav II Adolf oversaw the rise of a tiny entity into one of the leading world powers.

King Gustavus Adolphus, as many Americans would recognize him, is credited with developing modern strategies of war, notably at the Battle of Breitenfeld. The king was leading Sweden toward dominating Europe before dying late in 1642 during the Battle of Lutzen.

The coin, which is one of many highlights in Fritz Rudolph Künker’s Oct. 7 to 11 auctions, is a numismatic artifact of the Thirty Years’ War, which Sweden entered in 1630 before culminating efforts in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia.

The coin is classified as Ahlstrom 21 in Coins of the Swedish Possessions by Bjarne Ahlstrom, Yngve Almer and Kenneth Jonsson (1980).

Erfurt is a city in Thuringia in central Germany that was, at the time, an important trading center.

During the Thirty Years’ War, Gustavus Adolphus captured the city in 1631. Coins were struck for the Swedish authorities in 1631 and 1632, and again from 1644 to 1648.

According to the book, “During this period it was necessary to strike coins
at several occasions and in different
cities — in order to pay foreign troops, arms, etc.”

The king, naturally, appears on the obverse of some of these coins, his distinct beard and moustache an omnipresent facet of those images, reminiscent of Col. Harland Sanders.

Two design types were used for the taler and reichtaler coins in 1632, with the design on the coin under discussion employed after another design.

The portrait of the king on the coin, also referred to as a “halfcrown,” is “exceptionally accomplished,” according to the catalogers for Kuenker. The coin is among the rarest of all Erfurt coins and of all the coins struck in Swedish possessions. The auction firm labels the piece the “presumably unique specimen in the market.”

The coin does exhibit a minimal mounting mark and slightly polished fields, but overall it is called Very Fine.

It has an estimate of ?5,000 (about $6,590 U.S.). ¦


Silver 1632 half taler
of Erfurt under Swedish control



Very Fine, “minimal mounting mark, fields slightly polished”


Auction Location:

Osnabrück, Germany


Auction Dates:

Oct. 7 to 11, 2013



Coin was issued after Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus invaded town during the Thirty Years’ War

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