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About this journal

My rekindled interest in collecting started in 2009 with the impulse purchase of a 1783 shipwreck coin.  I did not imagine that collectible grade 8 reales coins were available until I started browsing Ebay to see whether I got a good deal on my first one.  After I realized what a poor deal I made, I set out to build a collection of quality 8 reales of the 1772-1791 design featuring the bust of Charles III.  I've added a modest collection of columnarios, too.

In 2013, I started a themed collection of coins depicting the sport of fencing, my other hobby/activity.

My current focus is on a collection of world silver crowns of the 16th to 18th centuries.  So far I have examples from the Commonwealth and England, France, Holy Roman Empire states and free cities, Swiss cantons, Dutch provinces, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Ragusa, Italian states, the Ottoman Empire, Malta, the United States of America and, of course, Spain and Spanish colonies.

Entries in this journal


I won this thaler recently and immediately received a "buy from owner" offer through Heritage for a decent increase over my winning bid. This one is destined for my Silver Dollars of '60 set so I didn't respond to the offer but I did post a trade offer in several forums that I frequent, hoping to catch the eye of the individual that really wants this coin. I haven't received a response from the trade offers but I did get a second, higher offer through Heritage after the first one expired.

So what's so special about this thaler? I know why it's special to me so I was willing to bid higher than I expected.  But obviously someone else really wanted it (and didn't put in a high enough proxy bid).  I found only two other auction records for coins closely matching this one on acsearch although there were quite a few that were similar. Most of my references don't go back to the 16th Century, but I dug out my copy of the "Standard Price Guide to World Crowns & Talers 1484-1968 as cataloged by Dr. John S. Davenport" for further information. Given the span of years, this reference is not much more than a listing of Davenport numbers with a few notes, out-of-date prices with a small fraction having coin images (and none matching my coin). However, it does include the following introduction to Mansfeld thalers:


Coins of Mansfeld in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are of remarkable similarity. The St. George and Dragon motif is found on virtually every piece. This, in conjunction with the numbers of family lines, large amounts of silver to mint coins and the rulers of one line issuing coins together with rulers of other lines, results in a enormous number of virtually indistinguishable talers...

So, no small task to figure out the correct Daveport number without a picture. In my photo, you can see the mintmark to the left of St. George's head. German auction results associate the Weinblatt (or grape leaf) mintmark with the town of Einsleben. The Davenport reference shows a section for the Vorderort Eisleben line with Davenport numbers 9481-9499 and the first rulers listed are Johann Georg I, Peter Ernst I, Christoph II, 1558-1569. These track better than any others with my coin having the legend on the obverse of -- IOHAN * GE * PETER ERNS * CHRIS -- with the (15)60 date. It looks like the possible numbers are 9481 and 9484 -- the NGC label says 9484 so maybe that's correct.

The historic lands of the counts of Mansfeld, and their many lines, was in the current German state of Saxony-Anhalt and included the town and castle of Mansfeld, the neighboring town of Eisleben and eastern foothills of the Harz mountains, where the silver was mined.  Martin Luther was born in Eisleben and later moved to Mansfeld -- his father was involved in mining and smelting.  Of the rulers noted on my coin, Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld-Vorderort (1517–1604), would become the governor of the Spanish Netherlands.

I'm not convinced that there's anything special about this thaler above and beyond its full strike and the colorful toning in the remnants of luster in the legends.  Perhaps in Europe ...?




2017 was a tipping point for me.   After many years of relentless collecting, I slowed down to the point where I only purchased four coins, and actually sold four coins.  Three of those that I let go were Silver Riders -- ducatons of the Dutch Republic. You will find these beauties cataloged under the coins of the Netherlands, or more properly The Kingdom of the Netherlands as the modern nation is a constitutional monarchy.  Back in the 16th century, seven of the Low Country provinces threw off Spanish Habsburg rule and formed a globe spanning mercantile empire.  In North America, the Dutch established the colony of New Netherland in the early 17th century and its capital at New Amsterdam in 1625 (later renamed New York in 1664 after its capture by the English).

The Dutch Republic minted several crown sized silver coins with the ducaton having the higher value of 60 stuivers. Produced from 1659 to 1798, the ducaton got the nickname of "Silver Rider" from its obverse design of a mounted knight. The reverse shows the coat of arms of the republic, with the lion holding a sheaf of arrows, symbolizing the unity of the provinces, and brandishing a sword in defense of their liberty. These are impressive coins -- 43-44 mm, 32.78 g and 91.4% silver.

My initial foray into collecting ducatons was filled with mistakes due to lack of study and patience. For those of you that might consider collecting a nice example, do your homework and take your time.  There are rare types but most are not particularly scarce; well struck, problem-free examples from the provinces with the largest mintages are not expensive relative to other contemporary world crowns.  However, there are plenty of examples with issues and all three of the ones that I sold recently fall into that category.  Two of them came from shipwrecks and show varying degrees of environmental damage.  The one that I was happiest to sell is the one pictured here.  This example is from the province of West Friesland and has a very nice obverse but a weakly struck reverse.  When I previewed the auction I decided to pass on it because of the poor eye appeal of the reverse.  But in the middle of the on-line bidding, I only looked at the obverse and forgot why I initially passed.

Selling my coins couldn't have been easier.  They were all originally purchased in Heritage Auctions and they were sold through the Heritage "make offer to owner" program.  I set the prices as low as I could to account for the 10% (minimum $40) commission and still get close to breaking even.  Then you wait and either accept an offer at your price or negotiate if a lower one comes in.  It's all conducted through email and the Heritage website -- you mail your coin to Heritage so your anonymity is maintained.  Going forward, I feel my collection has matured and I want to sell coins that are not part of the core.  I'm not in a rush -- my plan is to try selling in a variety of venues with breaking even as my goal.  As for Silver Riders, I still have a few better examples -- notably a 1760 AU-58 from West Friesland in my Silver Dollars of '60 set and a 1791 MS-63 from Utrecht that will get a place in a new set I'm calling "My World Crown Affair".




I don't know why it took an entire year to finally create the 2016 journal award icon, that now only appears on your profile page, but lo and behold it finally showed up to replace the broken link icon that I have gotten used to staring at.



And why does Heritage Auctions put them in their own category?

Before they became a US territory in 1900, the islands of Hawaii had been unified into a kingdom that existed for nearly a century. The Kingdom of Hawaii issued their own coinage, cents in 1847 and a series of silver coins in 1883. The cents were struck by a private firm in Massachusetts and the silver dimes, quarters, halves and dollars were designed by Charles Barber and were produced at the San Francisco Mint. These issues are what I consider to be the coins of Hawaii. 

Even though Hawaii is now a US state, I think of the coins of Hawaii as "world" coins and would expect to see them in world coin auctions just as I expect to see the coins of Puerto Rico and the coins of the Philippines (although I admit the argument for including the US produced coins of the Philippines in US coin auctions is compelling). However, if you browse a Heritage world coin auction you will typically see the top categories as Ancient coins, World coins and Coins of Hawaii. I don't have an answer for why they have their own category but I imagine it has to do with bidding action.

I have gotten used to seeing the coins of Hawaii in their own Heritage category but lately I have observed a trend that I personally do not care for. Within the Coins of Hawaii category, Heritage has started to include bullion "medals", with Hawaiian themes issued by a company calling themselves the Royal Hawaiian Mint. Some of these may have a connection to a State of Hawaii government office but I believe the majority are strictly private issues. Now there's nothing wrong with collecting exonumia; I just find their placement in the same category to be potentially confusing. 

Now that you know a bit of the history of the official coins of the Kingdom of Hawaii, please understand the difference when you come across a Hawaiian themed medal, regardless how "royal" it seems.

Here's my example of the silver dollar (akahi dala).