World Coins

Silver medal marks Nuremberg festival celebrating end of Thirty Years’ War

This 1650 silver klippe medal was issued for a celebration in Nuremberg of the Treaty of Westphalia.

Images courtesy of Nomos AG.

The Treaty of Westphalia brought the end of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe and established norms for resolving political conflicts. 

It also led to the issuance of a charming silver klippe medal being offered at auction July 10 by Nomos AG in Switzerland.

The piece was issued in 1650 upon an official celebration in Nuremberg to commemorate the Peace of Westphalia secured two years earlier. At the event, a group of boys “rode” with their hobby horses to the residence of Count Octavio Piccolomini, leader of the delegation sent by Emperor Ferdinand III, to ask him to find a way to commemorate the peace.

The response was the issuance of these square silver medals, measuring 21 millimeters on a side (the diameter of a Jefferson nickel) and weighing 2.89 grams (slightly lighter than a pre-1982 Lincoln cent).

Medal design, significance

The obverse of the medal carries an imperial eagle bearing the arms of Nuremberg above a legend that honors Ferdinand III (the Holy Roman Emperor). The reverse shows a child on a hobbyhorse, facing left, with legends hailing peace and citing Nuremberg.

The medal is classified as Erlanger 537 in Die Reichsmunzstatte in Nurnberg by Herbert J. Erlanger.

The story of children riding hobbyhorses (“steckenpferdreiten” in German) in celebration was later amplified by the poets Clara and Emmy von Dincklage in their 1875 work Geschichtenbuch für die Jugend (Book of Stories for Youth), who changed the setting to
Osnabrück.

Modern festival

Since 1953, Osnabrück hosts a festival around Oct. 25 that commemorates the Treaty of Westphalia and includes a procession of children (at first only boys, but now girls are allowed) who, while singing a specially composed song, ride hobbyhorses to the town hall, where the mayor gives them pretzels.

The medal is lightly toned with minor marks, according to the auction house, but is otherwise About Extremely Fine.

It has an estimate of 100 Swiss francs ($105 U.S.)

Consigned: 1650 silver medal from Nuremberg
Condition: About Extremely Fine
Auction Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Auction Dates: July 10, 2020
Details: Rare silver medal celebrates festival honoring 1648 Peace of Westphalia

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