World Coins

Reformation medal in Goldberg sale offers affordable history lesson

A 1925 silver medal from Nuremberg marks the 400th anniversary of the Reformation.

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles.

Martin Luther is the central figure in the Reformation story, but the liturgical leader had more than a little help.

One of those people assisting him was Lazarus Spengler, a Nuremberg resident and hymnist (and someone most appropriately named, given his religious involvement).

Though Luther is found on numerous medals and coins extolling his efforts to change practices that had become common in Christianity, Spengler’s depiction is rare. However, a silver medal depicting Spengler, issued to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Reformation in Nuremberg, is offered in Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles’ June 2 and 3 auction.

The medal was issued in 1925. It measures 42 millimeters in diameter and weighs 30.1 grams (so, about the size of an American Eagle silver bullion coin).

The medal is cataloged as No. 3893a in Rainer Opitz’ masterpiece Reformnatio in Nummis, a six-volume work published in 2019.

Spengler was one of Luther’s supporters mentioned by name in Pope Leo X’s bull Exsurge Domine, issued June 15, 1520, threatening to excommunicate Luther and his followers if they did not submit to the pope.

After receiving support from the Nuremberg town council, Spengler refused to submit to the pope, and was subsequently excommunicated along with Luther on Jan. 3, 1521. 

In April 1521, Nuremberg sent Spengler as a delegate to the Diet of Worms.

Medal design

The medal features Spengler on its obverse. Its reverse depicts a spectacular view of the city of Nuremberg, the second-largest city in Bavaria behind Munich.

The medal is described in the auction as “Beautifully toned” and in “Choice Brilliant Uncirculated condition.”

It has an estimate of $200 to $250.

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