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Coins in a museum - From Madelinus to School Money

Started by Pellinore, March 07, 2023, 10:13:52 PM

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Last weekend we visited the tiny town of Thorn on the border between the Northern and Southern Netherlands (NL and Belgium). Thorn has a long and dignified history, being a sort of Free State ruled by an order of nuns with relations in the highest places. Starting from the Middle Ages, 10th-13th century, it was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire ruled by a Benedictine Abbess who was, for instance, a daughter of a king or his sister. A rank like that comes with large endowments and protection. Probably such a tiny state had its use for that king, too, like a neutral country has in a war.

Thorn evening w.jpg

In the course of time this little enclave became a walled town full of churches and palaces. Thorn maintained its status right through the coming of age of Protestantism until the years of Napoleon, when it was rudely dismembered and reduced to a cobbly village. All royals were dispersed and by some strokes of luck the impressive church with its baroque cream-and-gold interior was preserved, only waiting for us tourists two centuries later. 

There is a very nice museum, and I was - naturally - on the lookout for coins! In Thorn local coins were issued in the 16th and 17th century. Very rare and I probably never will acquire any for my collection.

Madelinus Thorn 1.jpg
Madelinus b Thorn.jpg

But there it was, a special coin, a great find made in 2009, a Madelinus gold tremissis of the 7th century, marked as a unique variation, too. It was found in the outskirts of the town - there were also some Roman and Celtic finds.

Apart from this, there were some stray field finds, and a benevolent villager had left his school money and German Notgeld (and some pairs of glasses) to the museum. But a rare gold tremissis of the early ages of the Netherlands! I was happy that they present it as it is: a great find.

-- Paul

Thorn museum w.jpg


Excellent photos, Paul. IIRC, Madelinus is one of the very few monetarii from Dorestad (he also worked in what is now Maastricht) known by name from his coins. His coins are not rare, but very popular indeed among Dutch collectors, who consider them the first Dutch coins - although the Limes imitations were also struck in the Netherlands.

I broke my teeth on the Celt. Got as far as reading +TRIE. TONIT, but got no useful hits on the legend. A second triens, I presume?

The 2½ and 1 gulden banknotes had a counterpart in circulation only in the 1950s. The colours are off, though and the style is more like the pre-war banknotes in higher denominations.

As for Thorn, I don't think it had sovereignty, though it is quite possible that the abbess had some sovereign rights over the population of the abbey. They did officially obtain minting rights from the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, though. It wouldn't have impressed the protestants.

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


Quote from: Figleaf on March 08, 2023, 07:55:47 AMI broke my teeth on the Celt. Got as far as reading +TRIE. TONIT, but got no useful hits on the legend. A second triens, I presume?

No, this is the obverse of the Madelinus triens alright. The photo I made shows the reverse upside down.

Here you may see both sides in one webpage, of the Thorn museum itself (in Dutch). The data of the coin have also been recorded: 14mm, 1.244g and a gold content of 53%.
The reverse text is read as TRIECTOFIT, meaning 'struck in Maastricht'.

There is an explanation of the coin that I'm translating for you into English:

"In the Money Museum in Utrecht, the details of one other gold tremissis of Madelinus are known of type 320. It remains undisclosed in which collection this coin is located; only one image is known from an auction catalog from 1974. The coin in Thorn is currently the first tangible example of this type 320. During the research in the Geldmuseum in Utrecht, a stamp coupling was found. The obverse of the coin was struck with the same die as the obverse of the coin from the aforementioned auction catalogue. However, the reverse of the coin was struck with the same die as a coin in Utrecht of the type 321. Thus the gold coin in Thorn appears to be a unique specimen in the Netherlands.

In the Money Museum in Utrecht, the rare gold coin of Madelinus was examined by Arent Pol. The coin has a diameter of 14 mm, a weight of 1.244 grams and a specific gravity of 13.94, which shows a gold content of 53%. The find is registered in the database of Western European gold pieces from the sixth and seventh century under number 05242."

-- Paul


From the same museum, something I didn't see myself: Plantin's coin catalogue of 1575. You can browse a bit in it on the museum website.

This however I photographed: a collection of coin weights from the 16th century. Like this on the website.

Thorn coin weights w.jpg

-- Paul


Nice collection of weights. TFP. The following presumes that the pictures on the weights had something to do with the weight of the coin they were checking, which is quite often the case. Some surprises.

Top row: Portugal.
Second row: left Brussels (surprise: no coin with St Michael known), centre either Burgundy gold coin (Vh H9-11) of Philip III or Habsburg gold (Vh I207-208) of Philip II, right not identified looks German.
Middle row: left Burgundy or Brabant (plenty of full length St John design, but St Peter is usually half length or enthroned), right (surprise) looks like a Northern Netherlands stuiver, except that's a small, thin silver piece. Possibly Spanish silver coin of the reyes catolicos.
Fourth row: two unidentified German state? coins
Bottom row: left Habsburg gold (Vh I198-200) of Philip II or Spanish gold ducado of the reyes catolicos, right looks more like a coin than a weight. Not identified.

Surprise: apparently no weight for a coin of Luik/Liège or Luxembourg.

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


lovely - I just returned from seeing the incredible collection at the Teyler Museum in Harlem.  The collection is incredible but photography is  badly affected by the overhead ceiling windows that reflect off the glass.

I did manage to get some decent picks though.