Author Topic: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"  (Read 445 times)

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Offline chrisild

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Re: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"
« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2019, 11:50:41 PM »
Collectors in the Federal Republic of Germany were often "torn": On one hand some people did not want to buy the GDR coins as that would support the regime. On the other hand, many of the GDR collector coins were nicely designed, and you could in many cases have "pairs" from the same year with one DM (Fed.Rep.) coin and one M (GDR) coin commemorating the same theme.

Some coins would honor people or places without any specific occasion. Several pieces like that came out in 1972: Meißen and Buchenwald, Schiller and Pieck. Jubilees which were not really round were honored too, e.g. Goethe 1969 (220th birth anniversary?), Thälmann 1971 (85th birth anniversary?).

Below is a coin that does refer to an anniversary - the piece that honored Karl Marx. Note the quote "Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert; es kommt aber darauf an, sie zu verändern" which is from Marx‘s Theses on Feuerbach. The Federal Republic also issued a Marx coin in that year.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2019, 11:54:08 PM »
Sometimes the occasion or context is hidden. The coin featuring the Wartburg (1982) was the opening piece for the Luther Year 1983. The two Potsdam coins (1986) showing Sanssouci and the New Palace honor the 200th anniversary of Frederick the Great's death. And the Zwickau and Mühlhausen coins (1989) refer to Thomas Müntzer born 500 years before.

Almost all commemorative and collector coins had one occasion-specific side only. The other side would usually have the CoA in the center, country name, face value and year. Sometimes the designers could "play" with the CoA size, examples are the NVA (armed forces) coin 1976, Anti-Apartheid Year 1978, or Freiherr vom Stein 1981.

This coin commemorates the bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Here the quote is from a text (on a cemetery memorial, I think) by Max Zimmering: "Dresden, in your wounds one can see the agony of the nameless ones, who burned to death here in a hellfire made by human hand." During the GDR years the ruins of the Frauenkirche (depicted on the other side) reminded of WW2; this way it was at least not totally demolished.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"
« Reply #32 on: November 11, 2019, 12:01:11 AM »
The Marx 1983 coin (see reply #30) and the Dresden 1985 piece have issue-specific quotes. Another one is the 1989 coin that commemorates 40 years of the GDR - it even has the first words of the national anthem. Kind of ironic, as roughly between 1972 and early 1990, that anthem was only played, not sung, on official occasions as it had a reference to a united fatherland. ;)

The very last commem of the German Democratic Republic points at its end: Once again we see the Brandenburg Gate, and the text at the bottom says Berlin again. But instead of referring to the GDR capital, the upper text says "22. Dezember 1989". That was the day when the Brandenburg Gate was opened. This coin was produced in two varieties: about 300,000 pieces in the usual Cu620 Zn200 Ni180, and about 155,000 pieces in pure (9995) silver.

As for the mintage figures of the collector coins, the GDR would often "recycle" pieces down that had not been sold. The coin that honored Ernst Thälmann, for example, had a mintage of about 750,000 - but roughly 170,000 were melted down ...

Offline chrisild

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Re: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"
« Reply #33 on: November 11, 2019, 12:17:50 AM »
This "opening date" specifically refers to the Brandenburg Gate; as mentioned before, the Wall was opened on 9 November. If you want to, you can have a three year set with that gate, consisting of
- a 5 M circulation coin with the "Hauptstadt der DDR" text from 1989,
- this 20 M collector coin dated 1990,
- and the 10 DM coin (Federal Republic) from 1991 which commemorates 200 years of the gate but also says "Symbol of German Unity".

One last comment about this 9 November 1989 date. It sure was an important day, and there was the idea to make it a holiday. Problem is, 9-Nov is a very "multifaceted" date for Germany. Just four major events ...

* In 1918 the German Republic was proclaimed, during the Revolution, on that day.
* In 1923 Hitler and some other nazis attempted a coup (Beer Hall Putsch) in Munich.
* In 1938, 9 Nov was the peak of the November Pogroms.
* And then in 1989 the Berlin Wall and the border between the two Germanies were opened.

So our "Unity Day" is on the day when the Eastern states joined the Federal Republic, and thus Germany's division came to an end.

Christian

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"
« Reply #34 on: November 11, 2019, 09:00:30 AM »
As for the mintage figures of the collector coins, the GDR would often "recycle" pieces down that had not been sold. The coin that honored Ernst Thälmann, for example, had a mintage of about 750,000 - but roughly 170,000 were melted down ...

In one of the deeper crevices of what used to be my memory rests a story that is the reverse of yours ;) The first of the series of commemoratives had become a bit pricey. They were re-struck years later with original dies and sold as originals for the going price, which of course drove down the going price and had those who spent real money on them cry in financial agony.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Comments on "Coinage of the German Democratic Republic"
« Reply #35 on: November 11, 2019, 10:59:17 AM »
Not really wrong, but not quite right either. ;) In the mid-1970s, the Berlin Mint (GDR) began minting proof versions of their collector coins, in addition to the regular BU version. So apparently somebody had the idea of making proof "copies" of the older ones too. The mintage figures of those "proof restrikes" - some are Ag 625 while the regular version is Ag 800 - are not known. The Schön catalog for example says "wenige Ex(emplare)", so only a few were made.

Those few are indeed quite expensive, with catalog prices up to €15,000. And the BU versions are indeed not that expensive any more - but I have no idea whether that trend began in the 70s due to the proof issues, or whether it started much later. For example, the early Federal Republic issues from the early/mid 1950s are not that expensive any more either. In both cases the reason, in my opinion, is simply lower demand.

All this does not really have much to do with the fact that many GDR collector coins were melted down. Now "popular" pieces were not or hardly affected by that. Others however ... see the Thälmann example. And it even happened to Käthe Kollwitz: After the first two (Schinkel, Leibniz - 50,000 each) turned out to be popular, they doubled the mintage: 100,552 (plus those few proof pieces made in '74). Later however, 38,612 Kollwitz coins were melted down.

Another extreme example is the Buchenwald (10M 1972) coin. This was one of those high-volume, non-silver commems; about 15 million were made but only 3.5 million were not melted down. In the case of most issues, however, the "surviving portion" is much higher of course.

A few years ago Helmut Caspar wrote a book about the history of the Berlin Mint, and writes that suspiciously many "error" coins left the mint in the GDR years. As favors to special collectors? Who knows ... What we do know is that the mint also made gold version of some coins - for Politbüro members and "special political guests".

Side note: After the former GDR became part of the Federal Republic, the Berlin Mint continued making coins - with its traditional "A" mintmark. So the Federal Republic of Germany (which used to have four mints) has had five minting locations since then. After about 70 years of production at the Molkenmarkt in central/East Berlin, the mint moved to Reinickendorf (near Tegel airport) in late 2005.

Christian

 
« Last Edit: November 11, 2019, 02:55:47 PM by <k> »