Coronation Ducats

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Jaelus, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    Are coronation issue ducats considered to be commemorative ducats (and therefore coins) or are they considered to be medals/jetons? Do they reside in a grey area, technically being commemorative ducats but also medals/jetons as they were not intended to circulate?

    Take for example the 1867 Franz Joseph coronation ducats. They produced these in gold, silver, and bronze. For the gold they used the ducat planchets and for the other medals they matched the ducat planchet size. The silver and bronze are always considered jetons, however, the gold issue is frequently referred to as a ducat. See the below EPN example which is listed as ducat on the slab but is also graded as a medal:

    fj hungary ducat epn obv.jpg

    Then they issued a 1 3/4 ducat size for this coronation as well. This was not uncommon and you can go back several hundred years and see the same two ducat and 1 3/4 ducat sizes for the coronations.

    This one from the EPN collection had no denomination listed - they simply put "Gold" instead of 1 3/4 ducat. Again, graded as a medal.

    e hungary ducat 134 epn obv.jpg

    Interestingly the 1896 millennium jubilee ducat was purely a commemorative and not intended to circulate but is also exclusively referred to as a ducat. I tried to find a picture of a slabbed one, but NGC is incorrectly slabbing them as goldgulden so it's not really illustrative of my point.

    I've been collecting this 1867 coronation series (36 types) for a number of years. I have most of the silver issues and have discovered an unknown mule, but I've only recently acquired my first gold coronation type in this series. As I'm also writing a catalog of coins for this period, it dawned on me that I should include the gold issues if they are ducats, but perhaps not if they are medals.

    mlov43 likes this.
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  3. physics-fan3.14

    physics-fan3.14 You got any more of them.... prooflikes?

    I don't know the answer to your question, but those are nice looking coins.
    Jaelus likes this.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    I suspect the answer to your question is going to be one of those situations where the answer depends on whom you ask.

    For example, I did a quick search on Montenuovo-2715. It brings up results where the same item, minted in the same metal, is cataloged as a coin, a token, and a medal by separate catalogers. And even when the same item was minted in different metals, same result. And the TPGs, same item, but if it's minted in a different metal, they use a different name. For example, in gold it's a medal, but in silver it's a token. There simply is no rhyme or reason in that. It's as if they're even more confused than we are !

    It's an issue I've posted about numerous times regarding numerous different subjects - definitions. It as if people don't know what to call something or what the actual proper word is to use so they call things what they "think" they are. In other words they apply personal interpretations of definitions as opposed to standard dictionary definitions because their personal definition suits their purpose at the time. And it's not just ordinary people that do this, TPGs do it, catalogers do it, recognized numismatists do it. Basically it seems like everybody does it.

    All in all it makes for a very confusing situation. One that results in people like you asking the very questions you are asking. There are so many different examples of this happening that it's really become quite a mess. Think of the age old debate, between recognized "experts" mind you, of the difference between a variety and an error.

    If they can't even settle that, well they're never gonna settle something like this !
    Jaelus likes this.
  5. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    Given on how you described them, I would be more inclined to treat them as medals. Take my opinion with a grain of salt though, as I know nothing about this series other than what you’ve told me.
    Jaelus likes this.
  6. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    They made a 49mm desk medal as well, though the designs are more elaborate than the smaller sizes. All in all the official coronation pieces look like this (Montenuovo numbers shown):


    Each of those 12 types was struck in bronze, silver, and gold, for 36 types in all (plus the mule I discovered, which is 2714/2716).

    The sizes of the coronation pieces were clearly based on the ducat for several reasons. The 20mm size of these issues were literally struck on 3.49g ducat planchets at the Vienna mint. It can be observed by relative mass that the 24mm size was then a 1 3/4 ducat, and the 49mm size was a 15 ducat.

    Planchets of the same size to these were prepared in bronze and silver for striking these types in alternate metals, however, these planchets bore no relation to existing types, and simply copied the sizes of the gold planchets. For this reason, when I first submitted these types to NGC I listed them on the submission form as "ducat struck in silver" etc., which I feel is a correct interpretation, but they just listed them as "silver".

    I'm not so concerned about the bronze and silver versions of these types though, and the 49mm is so large as to clearly be intended as a medal. My confusion is only regarding the 20mm and 24mm issues.

    I suppose the heart of my question is from where "ducatness" is derived:
    • Is any gold token officially struck by a mint rightly called a ducat by virtue of adhering to the ducat diameter/mass/purity specifications, or does it require intent by the issuing mint for it to be coinage?
    • And by extension - if a mint that produced ducats then struck an official coronation piece on a ducat planchet, does that automatically make it a ducat in the sense of it being coinage?

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    To the first question I'd have to say no and then yes to the second part. To the second, no. But that is merely my opinion as to the best of my knowledge there is no definitive criteria - which of course is the problem to begin with.

    I think your real issue is not the name being used, as in coin vs medal vs token/jeton, but rather who it is that is assigning the name. And I say that because they are seemingly doing so at whim with no rhyme or reason behind it.

    I think if it were me, I'd contact the mint and ask them what they call the items ! Their answer, I would consider definitive.
    Jaelus likes this.
  8. Jaelus

    Jaelus The Hungarian Antiquarian Supporter

    I contacted the Vienna mint about these pieces, but I'm not hopeful of a response. We will see.
  9. mlov43

    mlov43 주화 수집가 Supporter

    If the medal, token, ducat and jeton cataloguers are wise, all of them would include these pieces in their catalogues.

    How could it hurt?
    serafino and Jaelus like this.
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