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A Portuguese in the Netherlands ... with another twist

Started by Figleaf, December 12, 2009, 02:02:39 AM

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I saw this coin today and was impressed.

It looks like an excessively rare gold portugués (10 cruzados) in the name of Manuel I - Gomes D. Manuel 73.08, priced at €50 000. Except that those coins have the name and titles of Manuel. The legends on this coin are:

*IN:CHRISTO:CRUCIFIXO:NOSTRA:SALvs: - Christ's cross is our salvation

*AD:VALOREM:EMANVEL:REGvs:PORTVGALensis: - by the standards of Emanuel king of Portugal
•MONETA.AVREA.CIVITATis.SWOLle - gold coin of the city of Zwolle

The coin was called a Portugaleser.

Zwolle had received minting rights from the German emperor and used them to imitate famous coins of other countries, hoping to pick up some seigniorage. It didn't work in this case as few coins were struck and even fewer survived. In the background is the unification drive of the dukes of Burgundy to unify the coinage in all their lands. Zwolle was frozen out and so were its imitations. The mint was to come back during Dutch independence, remaining a nuisance and a fringe operations that was repeatedly bought off until it could finally be closed down
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


This coins impress by their size ( specially the thikness ) and not so by their design.
I never saw a portugaleser but they were minted as well in Gernamy ( If I remeber correctly in Hamburg ) .

In fact they were too big and did not last long...



It is easy to imagine how little demand there must have been in the Netherlands. The crusades were in practice over, no excessively rich noblemen as in Germany, no significant agricultural surplus as in France and no gold-yielding colonies as in Portugal. It all ends up to trying to export the coin to German courts while they were already imitated there.

However, I can also see why Zwolle thought of minting this coin. There was no "standard" gold coin yet. Although the Florentine and Venetian pieces had a good pole position after the crusades, the "market" had not settled on the florin and ducat yet. Portugal was on the receiving end of colonial gold and its Portugaleser might just have become the world standard. Nobody could foresee the richness of the Spanish American mines and how the Spanish doubloons would come to dominate in trade there. I'd consider this coin as an investment bet Zwolle (and Portugal) lost, not stupidity.

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


In Hamburg the Portugaleser (or Portugalöser) is still in use today. Not as a coin though but as an award, for merits or "important" visitors. (text only, in German)

The Portugaleser coins from Hamburg were minted primarily in the 16th century. However, they conflicted with the Augsburg Coinage Convention that favored gulden and ducat pieces for gold. So as from 1670 or so the Portugaleser was basically a ... no, I won't use the me-co term here ... worth 10 ducats.

This is one from 1574, from Wikipedia, and from Hamburg. :) Click here to view a larger image that shows the details.



Great fun. I presume NACH PORTUGALIS.SCHEROT.VND.KORN means something like "the same fineness and weight as the Portuguese coin", but I can't connect SCHEROT and KORN with fineness and weight...

Indeed, pseudo coins :P are not a recent invention, but my guess is that more of them were issued in this century than in the rest of human history.

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


Interestingly most people nowadays will associate "Schrot" and "Korn" with bread or rather its ingredients ... or use it in a figurative sense only, ie. something is worth what the label says. Similarly, "ein Unternehmer von altem Schrot und Korn" would be an entrepreneur old style but in a positive way - traditional and honest ...

However, the words Schrot and Korn actually have a coin related origin: Schrot is the gross or total weight of a "precious metal" coin, Korn refers to the precious metal content.

You may have seen the word Schrötling which is an outdated word for Ronde - planchet. Has the same root. But don't mix Schrot up with Schrott which is scrap metal. :)