On April 5, 1815, in modern day Indonesia Mount Tambora began to erupt. The explosions were so loud, they could be heard over 800 miles away. In fact, troops on the island of Java (some 780 miles away) marched out, believing a neighboring post was under attack. For the next week or so, the eruptions intensified up to an estimated Volcanic Explosive Index (VEI) of 7, making it the largest observed eruption in recorded history. Mount Tambora spewed out so much material (an estimated 24 cubic miles) that it lost approximately 1 mile in height. Explosions did not cease until July 17, 1815, though aftershocks and fires were recorded even some four years later. Estimated volcanic ashfall during the eruption The smoke and ash that billowed out of Mount Tambora traveled across the globe and caused a one degree Fahrenheit drop in worldwide temperatures. This abrupt climate change caused what is known as the Year Without Summer in 1816. Asia, Europe, and North America all recorded frigid summer temperatures that caused flooding, destroyed crops, and killed livestock. For Europe, 1816 was the second coldest year since 1400. Across Central Europe, increased rains caused flooding, making it almost impossible to bring much needed supplies through the unnavigable rivers. This dire situation caused dramatic increases in the cost of grain. The cost of grain in the 19th Century was the economic barometer in the way that the stock market is now. In western Germany in early 1816, the cost of a loaf of bread to 14.5 stubers (a day’s wages). Elberfeld, a town of approximately 21,000 residents, came up with a way to keep people from starving. The mayor of Elberfeld, Jacob Ader, a wealthy banker, formed the Kornverein (grain society/association) and drew together some 125,000 Thalers. This money bought grain from the north, lowering the costs of flour, and reducing the cost of bread by about 5 stubers. Obverse: "SO HABT IHR IN DER NOTH 1817" and "1 BROD" Translation: For use in emergency 1817, 1 Bread. Reverse: "KAUFT IN DER ZEIT 1816" and "ELBER FELDER KORN VEREIN" Translation: bought in the time of 1816, Elberfeld grain association Some of the bakers sought to increase their profits even further by adding ingredients to the flour to make it go further. Some even claim that plaster was used. In an effort to combat this, the Kornverein minted bread tokens that accompanied the flour they purchased to root out any dishonest bakers. The endeavor was so successful, that the town earned 13,000 Thalers and was able to build its first hospital. I found this bread token on Ebay and was initially attracted to it because it was off-center. After doing a quick search about it on the internet, I knew I had to buy it and eventually share its history. I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please feel free to add anything that correlates to Mount Tambora, 1815-1817, or Elberfeld!