Prints and printmaking, £12.99
Diameter: 42.000 mm
Gift of King George IV
CM George III, German coins.793
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Silver sterbetaler of Sophia, Electress of Hanover
Hanover, Germany, AD 1714
Almost a queen of England
Sterbetalers or 'death talers' were special coins issued in the German states on the deaths of illustrious rulers or their consorts.
It was through the Electress Sophia, a granddaughter of James I, that the house of Hanover won its claim to the British throne, as recognized in the 1701 Act of Settlement. Sophia was a woman of intelligence, vigour and ambition, but she never became queen of Great Britain. She died in 1714, just a few weeks before her younger cousin Queen Anne, leaving her son to take the British throne as George I.
The inscription around Sophia's portrait notes her titles and descent, including her position as Mag. Brit. Haeres ('Heiress of Great Britain'). The details of her life on the back also include her status as 'called to succession of Great Britain in 1701', as well as the circumstances of her death on the evening of 8 June in the gardens of the electoral summer palace, 'while still walking with firm and vigorous step, snatched away by quiet and peaceful death'.
J.S. Davenport, German talers, 1700-1800 (Galesburg, Illinois, 1958)