Would like more info about this gold klippe baptism medal
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11 posts in this topic

It has been about three months since I posted this and haven't received any replies. Let's see what happens this time around.

 

I purchased this medal/coin long ago, probably late 70s or early 80s, during my quest for coins with Biblical themes. It is described on the flip as follows: Germany ND Klippe Medal in Gold for “John the Baptist”.

 

One side depicts the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a Dove above John the Baptist baptizing Jesus (as described in Matthew 3:13-17) while an Angel stands by their side. The other side depicts “The Adoration of the Magi” with the three kings from the east bearing gifts for the King of the Jews all under the Star of Bethlehem as described in Matthew 2:1-12. Looks like some Hebrew writing on the bottom of this side also.

 

It is about 18mm square and weighs 19 to 20 grains or 1.2 to 1.3 grams on my trusty ProScale Digi 500.

 

Is it a medal? Is it a coin and if so what denomination, (1/3 ducat)? Is it in fact from Germany? Can someone read the Hebrew writing for me? Any help or references will be appreciated.

 

Tom

 

 

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Edited by Tommy44
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Just my 2 cents....BUT

 

1) From those images, it does not appear to be gold. It looks more like brass to me. The oxidation of the surfaces and the overall dull look would support this being something other than gold.

 

2) It does not look original (authentic) to the "period" that it would supposedly come from (c. 1700).

 

IMO, you have a brass klippe jetton struck relatively recently (e.g., 1950s) as a souvenir. It's hard to provide hard evidence for either of my statements, but they are based on many years of looking at and collecting this type of material.

 

Good luck,

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Brandon,

 

Thanks for your opinion and comments. It sounds like you have a lot more experience with this sort of item than I do. I will say that I bought it from a very reputable dealer and I believe it is gold and original but who knows. I'll have to take it to a show and have someone check it out with a spectrometer.

 

By the way your "All Around the World" set is spectacular!

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If it is gold it must be fairly low fineness. I base this on the fact that it has over twice the surface area of a US one dollar gold pieces but only 2/3rds the weight. A one dollar gold is already pretty thin. This would have to be almost like foil and pretty difficult to handle without bending it.

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If it is gold it must be fairly low fineness. I base this on the fact that it has over twice the surface area of a US one dollar gold pieces but only 2/3rds the weight. A one dollar gold is already pretty thin. This would have to be almost like foil and pretty difficult to handle without bending it.

 

I'm sure I could bend it if that was what I wanted to do but it is actually quite rigid and not as thin as you would think.

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If it is gold it must be fairly low fineness. I base this on the fact that it has over twice the surface area of a US one dollar gold pieces but only 2/3rds the weight. A one dollar gold is already pretty thin. This would have to be almost like foil and pretty difficult to handle without bending it.

 

I'm sure I could bend it if that was what I wanted to do but it is actually quite rigid and not as thin as you would think.

 

Which supports Conder101's implication that it is not gold....or that it is extremely low fineness if it is.

 

Might be worthwhile finding someone who could test it to see if it is indeed gold.

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Just got home from the GNA show in Dalton GA where it was scanned with a spectrometer at the Southern Precious Metals Exchange booth where it registered as .9803 fine or 23K. I bought it in 1986 from a very reputable dealer so I wasn't worried about it but after reading the comments here I figured I better check it out. Guess I need to take some better pictures and maybe weigh it again.

Whoops, make that .9603 fine, not .9803.

Edited by tommy44
quoted fineness incorrectly
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OK assuming it is that fineness, for the size (18X18 mm) it would be .2mm or 7 thousandths of an inch thick.  Or about twice the thickness of a sheet of copy paper.

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Condor101,

It is actually 17mm by 17mm and closer to 20 grains so maybe more like three or four sheets of copy paper. In hand it is more rigid than you would think and looks about 1/3 the thickness of a Austria 1 Ducat gold or about 1/4? the thickness of a dime.

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Looks like an earlier version of an Orthodox baptismal medal/ducat. (Most of what's available online is from the late 19th and early 20th century and round in form, although square/diamond and drop-shaped forms also exist, but more rarely. You can search Google for 'Russia baptismal medal', etc.) The writing looks Greek, but not all letters are legible in the photos. The scenes and artwork resemble those of the later pieces mentioned above. These were made in the Balkans (Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, etc.) in the late 19th and early 20th century and possibly even earlier - 17th and 18th centuries. The even earlier pieces were originally made in the Holy Land (Jerusalem. Bethlehem, etc.) around the 17th century or possibly even earlier. (The Holy Land and the Balkans were in the Ottoman empire at that time.) They were sold to pilgrims visiting the Holy Land as souvenirs and also as 'blessed' gold. (Someone had mentioned that under Ottoman rules the sales and wearing of crosses was prohibited and these medals with religious scenes were the alternative approved by the Ottoman authorities. But, this information, although sounding plausible, is unchecked and unconfirmed by me.) In Orthodox tradition these are gifted to newly baptized (or newborn) persons by their god parents and/or parents. The smaller pieces were actually tied to the wrists of the children and the larger ones were worn later in life as coin jewelry of simply held in a safe place as heirloom gold pieces. There are some huge ones - more than 50 mm / 2 in. in diameter and more than a troy ounce of gold in weight. It's worth mentioning that as high karat gold pieces they were used as trade coins in their secondary role (like anything else of high karat gold at that time). That's why they are sometimes called baptismal ducats (just like their German equivalents). Some of the larger Orthodox pieces even have the pseudo denomination as part of the design, depicting "( 4 # )" at 6 o'clock, resembling the Austrian 4 ducats. Hope this helps. 

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