Please feel free to post your own bracteates or other medieval favorites! This is my current favorite: Bishopric of Halberstadt, under Gerno von Schembke, AR bracteate penny, 1169–1177 AD. Obv: + S–STEPHANVSPROTOMARTI; bust of St. Stephen facing between three stones and star. Rev: negative design. 25mm, 0.83g. Ref: Berger 1324; Slg. Bonhoff 483. What are bracteates? Bracteates are thin, uni-faced coins struck with a single die. They were usually produced by placing a sheet of silver on an engraved bottom die and striking it with a tool covered in a soft material such as leather or lead. As a result, the reverse of a bracteate is an incuse mirror image of its obverse. With very few early modern exceptions, bracteates were made exclusively from silver. Though struck to a variety of different regional weight standards, about all medieval bracteates have to be considered pennies (Pfennige), the dominant coin denomination of medieval central Europe. Yet, distinctive regional types of bracteate pennies are sometimes referred to by specific names (e.g. Rappen, Angster, Stabler) in numismatic literature. The term bracteate, derived from Latin bractea (meaning “thin sheet of metal”), is also used for migration period pieces of jewelry produced in a similar fashion. These were not currency, though, and thus should not be confused with bracteate coins. When and where were bracteates struck? The production of bracteate coins probably began around 1115–1120 AD in Thuringia. Until the 1300s, bracteates were the dominant local coin type in large parts of northern and eastern Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia. Additionally, bracteates were also struck in what today is Switzerland and the neighbouring southern German-speaking regions. After the practice renovatio monetae (see below) was largely given up in the 14th century, bracteate production nonetheless continued. Yet, these later bracteates tend to be smaller in size and show simpler designs. Such late medieval and early modern bracteates are also referred to as “hollow pennies” (Hohlpfennige). Who issued bracteates? Minting was highly decentralized in most of the regions where bracteates were produced. Most mints striking these coins were run by ecclesiastical, feudal, or civic authorities who were granted the privilege to mint coins by the Holy Roman emperor. Yet, bracteates from imperial mints exist, too. For mints outside of the Holy Roman Empire, the situation differed significantly. In Scandinavia, for example, coinage was, with only a few exceptions, a royal monopoly. Why are there so many types of bracteates? Although neither the earliest nor the later bracteates constituted “short-lived money,” high medieval bracteates are often associated with the practice of renovatio monetae. In many central and northern European medieval towns and regions, old coins were declared invalid by the local authorities in intervals ranging from every couple of years to twice a year. In what effectively constituted a type of tax, now-invalid coins had to be exchanged for new ones at a premium. This system required constant changes of the local coinage’s design to distinguish valid from invalid coins. The coins of the episcopal mint at Magdeburg, which ‘renewed’ its coins very frequently and hence produced an abundance of bracteate designs, are a good example for this. Renovatio monetae prevented the use of money as a means of storing wealth (much like negative interest rates do today), keep currency in circulation, and produce revenue for the mint. Apparently it worked only imperfectly, though, since these coins were still hoarded. The social and economical changes of the later 13th century, including the increase in long distance trade, a more strongly monetarized economy, and the emergence of a powerful urban patriciate, lead to the gradual abandonment of this practice. Here are some Magdeburg bracteates: Archbishopric of Magdeburg, under Albrecht von Käfernburg, bracteate penny, ca. 1220–1232. Obv: OICI – IVSDV; St. Maurice, nimbate and wearing armour, standing facing, holding cross and lance flag; below, church building with two towers and an arch; inside, cranium relic. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 23mm, 0.68g. Ref: Berger 1586; Slg. Hauswaldt 167; Slg. Bonhoff 712. Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg, under Albrecht von Käfernburg, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1220–1232 AD. Obv: St Maurice facing, holding two crosses, flanked by two towers; below, cranium relic. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 24 mm, 0.62g. Ref: Berger 1584; Slg. Bonhoff 731. Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg, under Wilbrand von Käfernburg, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1235–1254 AD. Obv: St Maurice facing, holding cross and flag; in tressure; below, cross. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 22.5 mm, 0.74g. Ref: Berger 1592; Slg Bonhoff 757. Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg, under Wilbrand von Käfernburg, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1235–1254 AD. Obv: bishop standing facing, wearing mitre, holding crosier and flag, flangeg by two towers. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 20 mm, 0.75g. Ref: Berger 1649, Slg. Bonhoff 703. Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg, under Rudolf von Dingelstedt, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1254–1260 AD. Obv: + RODOLPHVS DEI G; bishop facing, wearing mitre, holding crosier and ferula. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 22 mm, 0.69g. Ref: Berger 1644; Slg. Bonhoff 774. Archbishopric of Magdeburg, anonymous, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1270–1280. Obv: St. Maurice, wearing armour, standing facing, holding lance and lance flag; ringlets r. and l.. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 20mm, 0.73g. Ref: Berger 1603–1605; Slg. Bonhoff 719. A nice episcopal bracteate from Augsburg: Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg, under Wolfhard von Roth-Wackernitz, AR bracteate penny, ca. 1290–1330. Obv: bust of bishop facing, wearing mitre, holding crosier and book. Rev: negative design (bracteate). 20.5mm, 0.66g. Ref: Berger 2656–2661; Slg Bonhoff 1919; Steinhilber 94.