Gold medallic portugalöser (10 ducats)

Hamburg, Germany, AD 1675

A great city celebrates itself on its gold coinage

Many cities in the Holy Roman Empire had their own coinages. Among these was Hamburg, one of the leading trading centres of the north. As well as ordinary money, however, it also issued its own distinctive and spectacular large coins, pieces which straddle the border between coins and medals. They form a long and varied series of gold portugalösers (10 ducats), beginning in the 1550s with coins directly copied from the Portuguese 10 ducat coin (hence its name). They evolved into finely-made pieces like medals, produced for commemoration, sale or by commission to institutions and individuals. The Bank and the Admiralty were the principal institutions for which these coins were made, as upholders of Hamburg's commercial and maritime greatness. This example, dating to 1675, was produced for the Admiralty. On the front is shown a panoramic view of Hamburg and its harbour, with a Latin inscription which translates as 'God, here is the city which you protect'. This type of scene was often used on the leading city coinages of Germany and Switzerland at this time. The Hamburg fleet at sea is shown on the back.

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More information

Bibliography

C.F. Gaedechens, Hamburgische Münzen und Medail (Hamburg, Gedruckt bei J.A. Meissner, 1876)

B.J. Cook, 'Showpieces: medallic coins in early modern Europe', The Medal-4, 26 (1995)

Dimensions

Diameter: 49.000 mm

Museum number

CM SS Banks 76-31

CEM62739

Gift of Sir Joseph and Lady Banks

Location

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