World Coins

Patron saint of artillerymen on siege coin in auction

This 1578 silver 40-stuiver klippe, issued during the siege of Amsterdam, features an engraving of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen.

Coin images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen, appears hand carved after its issue, on an item of siege coinage from the Dutch Revolt. 

The coin featuring the carving was a highlight of the Jonathan Kern Collection of Siege Coinage, sold by Classical Numismatic Group in an Internet/mail-bid sale that ended May 16.

The piece realized a hammer price of $6,500 against an estimate of $5,000. The buyer’s fee is either 20 or 22.5 percent, depending on bidding method. 

The siege of Amsterdam was from December 1577 to Feb. 8, 1578. In the Dutch Revolt, Amsterdam initially refused to join Holland, Zeeland, and the southern provinces, all of whom wanted to push the Spanish from Dutch territory. In late 1577, the rebel Dutch forces blockaded the city, until February of 1578, when Amsterdam grudgingly joined the rebellion against Spain.

The silver 40-stuiver klippe is a rectangle, measuring 38 millimeters by 41 millimeters, weighing 28.69 grams (slightly heavier than a Morgan dollar). 

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The engraving on this piece of siege money was done after the siege. The silver for this issue came from the chandeliers, lamps, and vases of the Nieuwe Kerk, a church in Amsterdam. Other examples of this type do not feature the additional engraving of Saint Barbara. 

Siege pieces with post-event messages or engravings, like this coin, suggests that these coins were kept as a memento by those who participated in the siege, the firm said. Since the engraving here is the patroness of those involved in the active defense of the city, the owner may have had the engraving done as a devotional reminder of having survived the worst of the siege. 

The siege coinage is graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. as About Uncirculated Details. 

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