A Tale of Two Cities

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jgenn

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It was the best of thalers, it was the worst of thalers...

Several city-view thalers were up for sale this November and I acquired one of Frankfurt am Main and one of Regensburg. Minted just a few years apart, they are from the last few decades of the Holy Roman Empire. Both of these were Free Imperial Cities, subordinate only to the Emperor, and had important roles in the Empire; Frankfurt was the city where kings and emperors were crowned and Regensburg hosted the principle decision making body, the Imperial Diet. Both are well struck with minimal wear but otherwise, they are a contrast in appearance.

The Frankfurt thaler has muted luster with significant toning, somewhat uneven and with a few crusty areas in the legend. The city view is in landscape style and the toning adds a weather-like effect as if a rain storm is passing through. It's quite ornate with elaborate framing of the city arms and the radiant triangle, caduceus and cornucopias symbols.

The Regensburg thaler is highly lustrous with only slight toning. The obverse shows the portrait of Emperor Joseph II and the reverse is a portrait of the city -- engraved on a large scale, accentuating its importance and grandeur, and features an impressive level of detail -- its precise lines are more in the style of an architectural drawing.

I know it's a stretch to paraphrase Dickens' famous first line with any relevance to these coins, but to me it is mainly about the range of Regensburg city view coins that were on offer. I chose the one with the best eye appeal but some may regard it as the worst because of its details grade. Between the two pictured here, I appreciate the qualities of the different styles, however I find the Frankfurt view more appealing. Toning and details grades generate strong opinions among collectors. Which city view do you prefer?

I'll post the full coin photographs with grades on the chat board.

~jack

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