Author Topic: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark  (Read 385 times)

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Offline brandm24

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1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« on: March 06, 2020, 04:36:11 PM »
Recently, going through my non-US and Irish collections I came across this nice old German States coin of Wilhelm ll.. Since I know very little about these coins I had a few questions.

I believe it's an example of KM-522 which makes it 90% silver and 28 mm weighing in at 11.11 g. The dates of issue were 1888 / 1918. I believe that he was Kaiser during those years so that would make sense. The listing described it as a Prussia (German States) issue. I didn't realize that the term German States was still used that late so was wondering at what point they simply became German coins.

I also noticed an initial "A" under the bust of Wilhelm. I suppose that's the engraver's mark. Could someone tell me his name? I always had an interest in engravers and their work. As a matter of fact, I have an comprehensive reference on engravers of American Civil War token dies. It was written by Q. David Bowers and was issued only a short while ago.

I really do like this coin as the gray gunmetal toning is very attractive to me. With the exception of the faint pin scratches across the bust, it's a very pleasing example.

Please correct me if I've gotten anything wrong. Many thanks.

Bruce
Bruce

Offline chrisild

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2020, 05:07:18 PM »
The "A" is (and still is today) the mintmark of the Berlin mint. During the years of the monarchy, until the 1918 revolution, the coins with a face value of 5 M and higher were state specific. So yes, this is a Prussian coin, but it was legal tender in the entire country.

Christian

Offline Figleaf

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2020, 06:09:55 PM »
Some more detail. German unification was a process, rather than a flash decision. I would like to take the currency treaty of Vienna of 1857 as the (inadvertent) starting point. Prussia was the leading power in the German customs union. Austria was not a member of the union. Prussia tried hard to keep Austria out, as Austria was aiming at curtailing Prussia's growing economic power. The currency treaty of Vienna was a surprisingly positive result. Austria was admitted and its currency was linked to the German currencies: 2 (North German) Thalers = 3½ (South German) Gulden = 3 (Austrian) Gulden. Austria took the opportunity to decimalise, so that 1 Gulden = 100 new Kreuzer. The Prussian Thalers became "legal tender" in all member states of the currency treaty of Vienna. All member states had an obligation to strike them. All had to decorate them with the legends VEREINSTALER (union thaler) and XXX EIN PFUND FEIN (1/30th of a pound of silver).

In practice, while all kinds of twisted old denominations kept swirling around, the Prussian Thaler ruled as much as the Mark would rule in the future and it had a larger currency area. The Vereinsthaler is in reality the first common currency of Germany.

What broke the spell was a Frenchman the size of Mr. Bloomberg, whose name was Napoleon. In 1859, under pressure from war and lost battles at Solferino and Magenta, Austria broke the link between its Gulden and the Vereinsthaler.

After the war of 1866, Prussia created the North-German alliance, where only Prussian coins could circulate. This evolved into the German empire, when the Southern German states joined in 1870, under some pressure from a man called Bismarck, who wore the same size of clothes as Mr. Trump. This is when Germany was invented. Austria (at the time reaching from within Poland to the Ottoman empire) was kept out.

A new German parliament (Reichstag) met on 21st March 1871. In 1871, all other big powers had adopted the gold standard as the silver price sunk because large silver coins were continuously de-monetised, creating a vicious downward price circle. Prussia wanted to go to the gold standard. So, on 4th December 1871, the Reichstag adopted a coinage law that created a whole new decimal currency: the Mark of 100 pfennig, equal to ⅓ of a Vereinsthaler. The law also confirmed the use of the mint sign, reserving the A for Berlin only. Your coin is part of that system. The original set of 1871 is:

ABerlinstill open, struck GDR coins
BHannoverclosed 1878, B was used for Vienna 1938-1945
CFrankfurtclosed 1879
DMünchenstill open
EDresden/Müldenhüttenclosed by the GDR, 1953
FStuttgartstill open
GKarlsruhestill open
HDarmstadtclosed 1882
JHamburgstill open

Having five mints is clearly overkill, but political calcification prevents further closures.

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

Offline brandm24

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2020, 06:32:53 PM »
The "A" is (and still is today) the mintmark of the Berlin mint. During the years of the monarchy, until the 1918 revolution, the coins with a face value of 5 M and higher were state specific. So yes, this is a Prussian coin, but it was legal tender in the entire country.

Christian
Thanks for that, Christian.

Bruce
Bruce

Offline chrisild

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2020, 06:48:10 PM »
Coins of this type have a shorter and less complicated history. ;) The Deutsches Reich was founded in 1871 and basically ended in 1949 - and between 1872 and 1918 the 2M (silver), 3M (silver), 5M (silver/gold), 10M (gold) and 20M (gold) coins had one common side and one state specific side, much like the euro coins these days.

Your Wilhelm II coin was designed and engraved by Emil Weigand (Wikipedia/German) by the way. Side note regarding the mints of today's Germany: Note that they are state operated, not federal institutions. So the situation is a little different from the US ...

Christian

Offline brandm24

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2020, 06:49:05 PM »
Interesting. Knowing very little about German unification, I had thought it happened more quickly. It was indeed a process not unlike the founding of the United States, I suppose. It took some time to have 13 colonies meld into a federal union with the many differences in outlook, motives and self-interest that each had.

I agree that five mints seems excessive but, as you say, once you got 'em you got 'em. Much like military bases here...very difficult to close one even if unneeded.

Bruce
Bruce

Offline brandm24

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2020, 12:40:36 PM »
I have another German States coin I came across while searching through my stock boxes. I thought I'd post it here rather than start another thread. As with the Wilhelm coin I have a few questions about this one that I'd appreciate help answering.

This is a really impressive Thaler of Ludwig 2nd (KM877 ?). I did some research on it and found that these were minted form 1865 to 1871, but unlike a number of other examples I came across, this one has no apparent date. I found the date of the others on the reverse in very small numbers near the rim under the portrait of St. Mary the Patron Saint of Bavaria. Apparently, I have the wrong KM number or I'm just missing something.

Two other questions if you don't mind. The edge inscription confuses me (XXX*EIN*PFUND*FEIN). Does this indicate a value or the fineness of the silver content? When I had it translated on Google it didn't register with me...still confused. ???

The second is the portrait of the Patron Saint. Does anyone know if the image is taken from a sculpture or painting? I searched "images" on Google but couldn't find a likeness. Just curious on this one. Whatever the case may be, the engraving and execution of the coin is superb.

Thanks everyone.

Bruce
Bruce

Offline Figleaf

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2020, 01:04:06 PM »
This is indeed KM 877, a Bavarian Vereinsthaler ND (1865), signed C(arl Friedrich). Voigt, known as Madonnenthaler. The madonna and child figure is the patron saint of the kingdom of Bavaria; the singer was invented later. It is a very popular subject of Christian religious art.

The edge inscription, XXX * EIN * PFUND * FEIN * - *, is the denomination. It means that 30 of these coins can be minted from a pound of fine silver, which is the definition of a Prussian thaler. See my previous post for its historical background. Louis II is a romantic figure, who had castle Neuschwanstein constructed, leading Bavaria to financial ruin. His death is mysterious.

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

Offline brandm24

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Re: 1905 Wilhelm ll 2-mark
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2020, 02:46:04 PM »
Thanks, Peter. I thought the edge inscription had something to do with it's value, but the translation I saw was confusing.

I like this coin very much. I don't recall how I came about it but I think maybe from my father's collection. He gave me his collection in 1976, so if that's the case, I've had it for a long time.

Bruce
Bruce