State Talers In 1470, the Saxons found rich, silver ore deposits in Schneeberg. In 1492 (a date many might recognize), another was found in Schreckenberg. Because both of these were in the Ore Mountains of Saxony, they experienced a silver rush, known in German as a Berggeschrei. Many flocked to the region to strike it rich, leading to new developments in mining and metallurgy. August I shepherded Saxony through this age, to whom Georg Bauer addressed his book De re Metallica. The 672-page book cataloged the state-of-the-art mining, refining, and smelting methods. This book remained the authoritative text on mining for almost two centuries and is said to have helped enable the Industrial Revolution. I find the book fascinating and recommend any who might have interest to visit this link (https://archive.org/details/deremetallica50agri/mode/2up?view=theater) to see a 1950 version translated into English. Below are some photos from the book: The glut of silver led to the Saxony needing to standardize their silver coinage. In 1500, they adopted what’s known as the Leipzig Coinage Act. In a nod to Tirol’s model, the Groschen was to be equated for the Rhenish (Rhine region) Gulden. The Saxons decided to call their version of the Gulden a Taler. 1x Groschen was equal to 3x Kreuzer, and it took 24x Groschen to make 1x Taler. When you see coins that say 24 Einen Taler, you know they’re a Groschen. Final note on State Talers: August I consolidated the Saxon mints to Dresden. A Brief History of Thuringia and Saxony At the time this coin was struck, Thuringia and Saxony were under the rule of August I, of the House of Wettin’s Albertine branch. August I became the Elector of Sachsen (Saxony) when the incumbent Elector (his brother Maurice) died at the Battle of Sieverhausen. August I sponsored the publication of the Book of Concord with his own money. August I vigorously pursued peace during his rule, and used his political and economic acumen to expand Saxony control over Vogtland, Mansfeld, Meissen, Merseburg, and Naumburg. He was famously known for his museum collections, including paintings, tools, and the finest arms and weapons collections in Northern Europe. In 1560, he founded the Dreseden Kunstkammer (art room/chamber), which later became what is today’s Dresden State Collections: https://www.skd.museum/. Though this coin was minted in Dresden under Saxony rule, the symbols on the coin are better explained through a smaller region called Thuringia. Prior to 1130 AD, Thuringia was a part of Saxony. In 1130, the Holy Roman Empire removed Thuringia from Saxony control and made it into its own landgraviate. Landgraviates are imperial states, whose leaders answer directly to the emperor himself. In February 1247, Henry Raspe, Landgraf of Thuringia and also elected King of Germany in 1246, died with no heirs, ending the Ludovingian line. After Raspe’s death, the Emperor enfeoffed Thuringia to his sister’s son, Henry III. This returned Thuringia to Saxony control, under the House of Wettin. Castle Wettin est. ~1000AD The Wettins ruled across Europe, from Belgium, to Poland, to even the United Kingdom. In 1422, the Wettins annexed the Saxony region from the House Ascania. In 1485, the Wettins eventually broke into two ruling branches: the Ernestines and the Albertines. The Ernestines ruled the Electorate of Saxony until 1547, when they lost the Schmalkaldic War. After the loss, the Holy Roman Emperor gave Saxony control to Maurice, of the Albertine line, which catches us up to the coin I purchased. 1547: The Schmalkaldic League is defeated after the Battle of Mühlberg. Coin Obverse The crown on the obverse comes from the Ludovingian line that ruled Thuringia (Thüringen) around 1040. The Ludovingians were founded by Ludwig der Bärtige (Louis the Bearded in English), who received a fiefdom in Thuringia around 1040, after marrying the granddaughter to the wife of King Konrad II. Louis had a son named Louis the Springer, who, as the legends say leapt into a river to stab the ruling Count Palantine Frederick III, and then following three years of imprisonment, jumped from the castle tower and escaped (thus gaining him the name Louis the Springer). Louis’ daughter, Judith, married the King of Bohemia. His son, Louis the Iron, married (a different) Judith of Hohenstaufen. Judith of Hohenstaufen was half-sister to Frederick Barbarossa, who was King of Germany (1152-1190), as well as King of Italy AND the Holy Roman Emperor (1155-1190). In 1180, Louis the Iron helped Frederick Barbarossa to unseat the Welf Dynasty from the duchies of Saxony and Bavaria until 1180. Louis also expanded Thuringia through conquest, and through marriage, united Thuringia and Hesse in 1137. Louis the Iron got his name for the heavy handed way he dealt with the nobility in Thuringia, who bullied their people and acted as robber barons. Legend has it that actually made these nobles wear a harness and plough a field. Another of his accolades was expanding the Wartburg Castle, where a few hundred years later, Martin Luther translated the New Testament from Greek to German. Louis the Iron’s epitaph, bearing the Ludovingian Helm. The crossed swords under the helm on the obverse are part of the Saxony coat of arms, added by the House Ascania in the mid-14th Century. The Ascanians controlled the eastern portions of the Saxony Duchy from 806-1180, and the entirety of the then-reduced Saxony Duchy from 1180-1296 (thanks to Louis the Iron). Fun fact(s): Catherine the Great was of the House Ascania, and the House Ascania is still around today. When the Ascanian line died out in the Saxe-Lauenburg region, the House Wettin gained control of Saxony and maintained the arms and electoral dignity for Saxony. Below are the outlines of Saxony and Thuringia. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Central_Europe,_919-1125.jpg The Latin inscriptions on the obverse: IMP ARCHIM AR SC : ET ELECTOR translate to Imperial Arch-Marshal and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire (I’m still trying to figure out what AR SC stands for - any help?) Coin Reverse On the top of the reverse, the reichsapfel splits the date. We probably know this better as the globus cruciger, or “cross-bearing orb.” The orb represents the earth, ruled by kings. The cross represents God ruling over the earth. I interpret it to symbolize divine rule or “Gottesgnadentum.” In this period of time, the pope often blessed off new kings, elected or otherwise (pun intended). Coins of this era with this symbol fell under the Holy Roman Empire. The Ludovingian crest had the Lion barry, which can be found in the Holy Roman Empire’s Ingeram Codex. The Ludovingian lion barry (also known as the Lion of Hesse) is portrayed on the right side of the coin’s reverse. And since I looked it up, barry means horizontal bars, and in this case, alternating lines of gules and argent (red and silver). Source: Die Wappenbücher Herzog Albrechts VI. von Österreich Here is an image of the shield of Landgrave Konrad of Thuringia (ruled Thuringia 1231-1234, and became the 5th grand master of the Teutonic Knights in 1239). The symbol to the left of the Ludovingian Lion on the reverse was the symbol for the Electorate of Saxony. The symbol is a combination of the Ascanian family colors and the Saxony ducal crown. Saxony Coat of Arms under the House Ascania Inscription on the reverse: AVGVSTVS D G DVX SAX : SA ROMAN Augustus dei gratia: August by the grace of God, Duke of Saxony, of the Sacred Roman Empire.