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A high medieval bishop on a bracteate


Ursus
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Posted (edited)

This is only my second bracteate purchase this year, and I thought it deserved a small write-up:

758669597_MADeutschlandetc.AugsburgBrakteatUdalschalkvonEschenlohe.png.05b0387df6dda747ff25b72aa76f861f.png

Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg, under Udalschalk von Eschenlohe, AR bracteate, ca. 1184–1202. Obv: bishop seated facing on arc, wearing mitre, holding crosier and book. Rev: incuse design (bracteate). 24mm, 0.87g. Ref: Berger 2631; Slg. Bonhoff 1893; Steinhilber 56.

My coin was minted for the Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg under bishop Udalschalk of Eschenlohe. In the historical sources, Udalschalk first appears in 1168 as deacon and 1169 as dean of Augsburg cathedral. In early 1184, he was unanimously elected bishop. In the following years, he kept close ties to emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Different imperial charter list Udalschalk as a witness present at Barbarossa's court. In 1184, the betrothal of Barbarossa's son Henry VI to Constance of Sicily was celebrated in Augsburg, and in 1187, Barbarossa attended in person when Udalschalk consecrated a new church in his bishopric. In the civil war after Barbarossa's death in 1190, Udalschalk supported the Staufen king Philip of Swabia against his Welf rivals but died of natural courses before the conflict ended.

The coin above shows Udalschalk – or a generic bishop – with episcopal regalia. Apart from mitre, crosier, and book, the seated figure also wears a pontifical dalmatic.

On a more technical note, the marks on the reverse of my bracteate shows how the flan was produced by hammering and rolling a square piece of metal into a round shape. This is typical for late 12th century Augsburg and other Bavarian bracteates. Coins from other German regions, for example Saxony and Brandenburg, were usually struck from round flans punched or cut out from large sheets of silver and thus don't have these marks.

Please show your bracteates, episcopal coins or recent medieval purchases!

Edited by Ursus
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Posted · Supporter

Interesting coin.

Here are two bracteates from Freiburg, Germany

 

normal_FR_021_Brakteat.jpg.2db1942c8478921c575a7442626b4e73.jpg

Freiburg im Breisgau
AR Brakteat
Stebler or Hälbling = 1/2 Rappen
AD 1387
Obv.: Head of raven left, crescent? to left
Rev.: -
AR, 0.162g, 16mm (max)
Ref.: Freiburger Münzen und Medaillen No. 10, Jubiläumsschrift des Freiburger Münzsammelvereins 1997, No. 18
ex CNG e-auction 247 (12 Jan 2011)

 

normal_FR_026_fac.jpg.8ddd3fc93628f8fddec6c8558ee53625.jpg

Freiburg im Breisgau
City or surrounding Breisgau
AR Brakteat
AD ca. 1250
Obv.: Winged fabulous animals to the right.
Rev.: -
AR, 17mm, 0.36g
Ref.: Wielandt 44, Berger 2432 (Freiburg), Slg. Wüthrich 54 (this coin)

 

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The Germanic bracteates from the 12th-14th centuries are fascinating coins & a reminder of how though life was at that time 🤔. They seem so impractical, yet more than the barter system was necessary for daily commerce to flourish 😉. My hands would tremble handling these fragile looking coins 😬. Do we have any idea what purchasing power these coins had, were they used in the marketplace or for paying taxes?

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That particular high-medieval bishop was CLEARLY a cool dude...

image.jpeg.4edcd3752c41a1459fcd92fe230b422d.jpeg

Tell me there isn't a resemblance!

I happen to have an ex@Ursus late medieval bishop bracteate!  With its corners left unhammered:

image.jpeg.aaff8072882afb95b395e767a00292c7.jpeg

SWITZERLAND, Basel: Bishop Johann II Senn von Münsingen (1335-1365) AR pfennig, bracteate, issued 1340-44. 0.38 g, 16-19mm. 
Obv: B-A, mitred bust left. 
Rev: incuse of obv.
HMZ 1-254; Wiel 115; Berger 2414.

This guy was definitely not a cool dude.  The coin was issued just before the Black Death invaded Basel.  Bishop Johann II presided over a dreadful persecution of Jews, upon whom the disease was blamed after several were forced to “confess" under torture.  The town council then issued a declaration forbidding Jews from entering the city for 200 years! 🤮

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Posted · Supporter
Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Al Kowsky said:

Do we have any idea what purchasing power these coins had, were they used in the marketplace or for paying taxes?

The answer to that is relatively complex and a bit unsatisfying, (a) because minting was highly localized and different authorities produced coins of different weight and/or purity, (b) since there is little high medieval source material telling how much everyday goods cost at specific times and places, and (c) because taxation was largely done by renovatio monetae, that is periodically recalling old coins and exchanging them for new coins at a markdown, and thus doesn't give insights into the purchasing power of local coinage. The extant sources allow some conclusions but are mostly small pieces of a puzzle from which most parts are missing.

To give an example: In 1267, Bruno of Schauenburg, bishop of Olmütz, wrote a testament in which he bequeathed 12 denarii each to a large number of priests in his bishopric. Since Bruno minted bracteates similar to the coin in the original post, it has to be assumed that these are what he meant by denarii. The document also gives us the information that 12 denarii were worth about 600 eggs, meaning that you could buy 50 eggs for one bracteate penny. At my local supermarket, 10 eggs are about 3€, so the egg purchasing power of one bracteate penny was equivalent to 15€.

But it is, of course, not that simple. We have no idea of how the price of eggs compared to prices for, let's say, a pound of flour or a pair of shoes, and we also don't know to what extent prices in Olmütz were different from prices in other places. Finally, we don't really have charts allowing to convert local currencies until much later – so we don't exactly know how much an Olmütz bracteate would have been in Augsburg bracteates in the mid-1200s. All that makes it very hard to pin down what a bracteate was worth in its time.

16 hours ago, shanxi said:

Here are two bracteates from Freiburg, Germany

Lovely! It is no secret that I always like to see coins from Freiburg (i.e. where I live). Your Hälbling with the small crescent in the field is especially nice and certainly rare. I hadn't seen one before. My example is the much more common full Rappen weighing twice as much and without the fieldmark:

493034814_MADeutschlandetc.FreiburgimBreisgauRappenbrakteat(neu).png.26dfb7fd350176f797dc381edd527fc8.png

Freiburg im Breisgau, civic issue, bracteate rappen, ca. 1368–1390 AD. Obv: eagle's head l. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 18mm, 0.30g. Ref: Wielandt: Breisgau 48b; Slg. Wüthrich 63; Slg. Ulmer 249; Berger –.

7 hours ago, ChrisB said:

I only have a handful at best. Here are a few German related.

Both are beautiful – though I would characterize your second example as a Dünnpfennig (sometimes also called a Halbbrakteat) since it actually has a reverse design that is blundered by the bracteate-like obverse (similar to the coin below).

1588816060_MADeutschlandetc.NurnbergReichsmunzstatteLowenu.Kreuz.png.b883051af0e5ca305cc7342ffc48a4fa.png

Nuremberg, imperial mint, under Frederick II, AR pfennig (group 6), c. 1245–1250 AD. Obv: lion walking l. within high ring; roses around. Rev: cross between two standing lions, ring and roses around (weak strike as usual). 20mm, 0.94g. Ref: Slg. Erlanger 32, Fd. Hersbruck 19, Slg. Bonhoff 2015.

19 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

That particular high-medieval bishop was CLEARLY a cool dude...

🤣 . And it's good to see that Basel bracteate again!

Edited by Ursus
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26 minutes ago, Ursus said:

The answer to that is relatively complex and a bit unsatisfying, (a) because minting was highly localized and different authorities produced coins of different weight and/or purity, (b) since there is little high medieval source material telling how much everyday goods cost at specific times and places, and (c) because taxation was largely done by renovatio monetae, that is periodically recalling old coins and exchanging them for new coins at a markdown, and thus doesn't give insights into the purchasing power of local coinage. The extant sources allow some conclusions but are mostly small pieces of a puzzle from which most parts are missing.

To give an example: In 1267, Bruno of Schauenburg, bishop of Olmütz, wrote a testament in which he bequeathed 12 denarii each to a large number of priests in his bishopric. Since Bruno minted bracteates similar to the coin in the original post, it has to be assumed that these are what he meant by denarii. The document also gives us the information that 12 denarii were worth about 600 eggs, meaning that you could buy 50 eggs for one bracteate penny. At my local supermarket, 10 eggs are about 3€, so the egg purchasing power of one bracteate penny was equivalent to 15€.

But it is, of course, not that simple. We have no idea of how the price of eggs compared to prices for, let's say, a pound of flour or a pair of shoes, and we also don't know to what extent prices in Olmütz were different from prices in other places. Finally, we don't really have charts allowing to convert local currencies until much later – so we don't exactly know how much an Olmütz bracteate would have been in Augsburg bracteates in the mid-1200s. All that makes it very hard to pin down what a bracteate was worth in its time.

Lovely! It is no secret that I always like to see coins from Freiburg (i.e. where I live). Your Hälbling with the small crescent in the field is especially nice and certainly rare. I hadn't seen one before. My example is the much more common full Rappen weighing twice as much and without the fieldmark:

493034814_MADeutschlandetc.FreiburgimBreisgauRappenbrakteat(neu).png.26dfb7fd350176f797dc381edd527fc8.png

Freiburg im Breisgau, civic issue, bracteate rappen, ca. 1368–1390 AD. Obv: eagle's head l. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 18mm, 0.30g. Ref: Wielandt: Breisgau 48b; Slg. Wüthrich 63; Slg. Ulmer 249; Berger –.

Both are beautiful – though I would characterize your second example as a Dünnpfennig (sometimes also called a Halbbrakteat) since it actually has a reverse design that is blundered by the bracteate-like obverse (similar to the coin below).

1588816060_MADeutschlandetc.NurnbergReichsmunzstatteLowenu.Kreuz.png.b883051af0e5ca305cc7342ffc48a4fa.png

Nuremberg, imperial mint, under Frederick II, AR pfennig (group 6), c. 1245–1250 AD. Obv: lion walking l. within high ring; roses around. Rev: cross between two standing lions, ring and roses around (weak strike as usual). 20mm, 0.94g. Ref: Slg. Erlanger 32, Fd. Hersbruck 19, Slg. Bonhoff 2015.

🤣 . And it's good to see that Basel bracteate again!

Ursus, Thanks for the detailed answer 😉. When there is no unity I guess we can expect no uniformity.

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Posted · Supporter
5 hours ago, Ursus said:

It is no secret that I always like to see coins from Freiburg (i.e. where I live).

In this case I can show you some more bracteates from Freiburg.

 

 

normal_FR019.jpg.0631a528300e9ee34341e6fb7305ade9.jpg

Freiburg im Breisgau
AR Brakteat
AD ca. 1425
Obv.: Coat of arms with head of raven within ring
Rev.: -
AR, 0.41g, 18mm
Ref.: Berstett 127, Becker p.17/5; Freiburger Münzen und Medaillen No. 11; 25. Jahre Freiburger Münzsammelverein Abb.19

 

normal_FR_031.jpg.a4f5394431edf33e35418ce75a240c15.jpg

Freiburg im Breisgau
AR Brakteat (Rappenpfennig)
AD after 1584
Obv.: Coat of arms with head of raven and two crosses left and right, both within ring and ring of pellets
Rev.: -
AR, 0.25g, 16mm
Ref.: Freiburger Münzen und Medaillen No. 17 var. (crosses instead of dots)

 

normal_FR_032.jpg.65bca51893b298c36b05f9f4986c3c90.jpg

Freiburg im Breisgau
AR Brakteat (Hälbling)
AD after 1498
Obv.: head of raven within ring and ring of pellets
Rev.: -
AR, 0.2g, 16mm
Ref.: Becker p.17

 

normal_FR018.jpg.455ba6aec9b70d3ca1143b0141de8a4d.jpg

Freiburg im Breisgau
AR Brakteat
AD ca. 1300
Obv.: Head of raven/eagle left, cross to the left
Rev.: -
AR, 0.41g, 16mm
Ref.: Freiburger Münzen und Medaillen No. 2; Slg. Ulmer 1472; Wielandt 46

 

normal_FR017.jpg.a137313155951bd33abf78b739e7d5b8.jpg

 

Freiburg im Breisgau
AR Brakteat
AD 1498
Obv.: Head of raven left within closed circle and dotted circle
Rev.: -
AR, 0.31g, 17.4mm
Ref.: Freiburger Münzen und Medaillen No. 14

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, shanxi said:

In this case I can show you some more bracteates from Freiburg.

Beautiful pieces. Not so far from me 🙂 ... I must admit, I didn't really know these bracteates. I just had a quick look at Wikipedia to find out what they are all about.

They actually have "only" one page. I found the information interesting that they were withdrawn twice a year? And that in the end these bracteates were "to blame" for the fact that there were so many investments. Because people preferred to put the money into their craft or trade rather than lose 25% in the end through the exchange. Also a possibility that more would be invested.

Perhaps one should also withdraw all euros 1x a year and only give back 75% new euros - one would invest even more and not store it under the mattress...  😄 

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Posted (edited)

(Yikes --apologies for not finishing this last night.  It's fantastic how many people stepped up to the plate.  --Ursus, your level of erudition is frankly amazing.)

Many thanks, @Ursus, for holding up the Medieval tent, while some of the rest of us (Guilty As Charged) thought we had other things to do. 

Your bracteate, and your details on the minting process in this part of Germany, are (vetted for hyperbole; guaranteed 98.9% free) terrific, and correspondingly enlightening.  I for one never knew anything about the minting process, never mind its regional diversity within Germany.

"Please show your bracteates, episcopal coins or recent medieval purchases!"

In the interests of avoiding redundancy, here's a post that gets into each facet of what you mention.   --Except that there are no bracteates!  It seems best merely to include a link.

 

But here are the two bracteates (of a total of three, all later 12th-early 13th c.) that I can find pictures of.  Both are of archbishops of Magdeburg; beginning with the later one, who, like Udalschalk von Eschenlohe, sided with the Staufen candidate, Philipp von Scwaben, during the dynastic civil war that followed the death of Friedrich Barbarossa.   I have to like both of them for featuring St. Maurice, Magdeburg's patron saint.  A legionary martyred during the persecution of Diocletian; hence the honorific 'DVX' in the earlier, lower one.  ...With apologies for neither including the incuse, and the otherwise substandard quality of the later one.

D:\COINS, Magdeburg brakteat.jpg

AR Brakteat (/bracteate; uniface) of Ludolf von Kroppenstedt, Bischof von Magdeburg 1192-1205.  
St. Maurice, nimbate and wearing a headband, holding sword in right hand, cross in left.  Crenellated stone wall below.
Bonhoff 682, Slg. Hauswaldt 298, Slg. Löbbecke 319, Berger 1535.

image.jpeg.78b7e6706344d5dec7214c3fc1493461.jpeg
And this is of his predecessor, Wichmann von Seeburg, 1152-1192.

Edited by JeandAcre
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Posted · Supporter

Thanks for the kind words, @JeandAcre!

And just to add, your two coins are good examples of what I referred to in the original post. The "Maurice pennies" from Magdeburg were obviously struck from flans that were cut and not hammered/rolled into shape. You can see that when looking at the edges of your examples or this coin:

1767305207_MADeutschlandetc.MagdeburgMoritzpfennig1586Reliquie.png.014d9ce0759347e5d47ecd5e79d73d77.png

Archbishopric of Magdeburg, under Albrecht von Käfernburg, bracteate penny, ca. 1220–1232. Obv: OICI – IVSDV; St. Maurice, nimbate and wearing armour, standing facing, holding cross and lance flag; below, church building with two towers and an arch; inside, cranium relic. Rev: incuse design (bracteate). 23mm, 0.68g. Ref: Berger 1586; Slg. Hauswaldt 167; Slg. Bonhoff 712.

 

As already said, there is considerable regional variation when it come to how bracteates were produced and designed. The (earlier) Freiburg and Bases bracteates that @shanxiand @Severus Alexanderhave shown, for example, were never meant to be round. These sorts of square-ish bracteates are typical for the Breisgau and what today is northern Switzerland. We have already seen Basel and Freiburg – here are two more examples from Zofingen and Zurich:

526522906_MADeutschlandetc.ZofingenVierzipfligerMauritiuskopf.png.2c8bbe35f6c9f1e29236c78636255f70.png

Zofingen (Habsburg mint, under the Counts of Frohburg), bracteate penny ("vierzipfliger Pfennig"), ca. 1285–1300 AD. Obv: ZOVI; male frontal bust (St. Maurice?) flanked by two stars, crescent above. Rev: incuse design. 18mm . Ref: Berger 2445–6; Slg. Wüthrich 134–5; HMZ I–149a.

1249871727_MADeutschlandetc.ZurichAbteiFraumunsterVierzipfligerNonnenkopf.png.33a76f663b27ede7896ec3991bd118df.png

Zurich, Imperial Abbey of Fraumünster, "vierzipfliger Pfennig," ca. 1300–1320. Obv: ZVRICh; veiled head of nun facing. Rev: incuse design (bracteate). 18mm, 0.40g. Ref: Berger 2472–2475; Schwarz 30; Hürlimann 38; Slg. Wütherich 209.

 

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