Featured My Wildman Addiction

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Chris B, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

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    A few years ago, one of the large coin magazines had an article on expanding your collecting interests and mentioned Wildman coins. I found the article interesting but kind of forgot about it until I ran across one on eBay. It had duel importance to me because it was also formerly part of the Eric Newman collection, a numismatist that I greatly admire. Side note: the Eric Newman biography "Truth Seeker" is well worth reading.
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    I grew up helping my grandfather with his collection. All of my early numismatic education came from him. His favorite coins were the "V" nickels. He talked frequently about the rare 1913 issue and told me stories about the "No Cents" issue. We would spend hours sorting coins and building Lincoln Cent sets that he gave to family members. He never purchased a coin even though it meant never finding his "No Cents" Liberty nickel. I filled the whole with a nice uncirculated piece but it looks out of place. All of his coins came out of circulation. His liberty head collection was filled with coins most collectors would consider fillers but they are priceless to me. His collecting habits influenced me greatly. Yes, I purchase coins, but proof and high-grade mint state coins don't do it for me. I appreciate them but I don't get the same rush as holding a nice 200-year-old XF coin in my hand. Think of the tales it could tell.

    I was fortunate to inherit his collection when he passed and continued to work on building his sets and only rarely upgraded his coins. In addition, I purchased a small collection belonging to my aunt.

    At some point, I decided that it would be a good idea to start a large cent date set. My grandfather didn't have any in his collection. I am still working on this set but as the holes became increasingly expensive and I was making additions less frequently I got bored.

    Due to my love of large cents, I started searching out large diameter copper and bronze world coins which makes up the bulk of my recent new additions. I tend to gravitate towards crude pieces and generally don't mind coins with minor problems.

    I still enjoy my US coins, primarily Large Cents, but I am realistic in my expectations for future additions. Recently I have been reading a lot about the 1776 Continental dollars. It is not realistic for me to obtain one but there a number of world coins available from the same year for a very reasonable price. I happen to have a 1776 Wildman coin. My dream coin is a 1793 chain cent but I have the same problem with this coin.

    Wildman History

    1) Around AD250 the Greeks referred to anybody that wasn't Greek as being wild men or uncivilized.

    2) Early Middle Ages - one story is about Merlin. After the woman he loved scorned him, he went into the forest and lived as a Wildman. He would occasionally return to the forest and have no recollection of his civilized life.

    3) Later Middle Ages - the medieval Wildman represented a physical type that was definitely human with racial characteristics similar to those of Europeans. Hair covered everything except there face, hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Described as everything from dwarfish to giant in size but always with superhuman strength. They were frequently pictured with an uprooted tree or club.

    As European's migrated to the new world they brought the Wildman myths with them (think Bigfoot).

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    The mythical Wildman was blamed for unexplained calamities and quirks of nature including missing persons and crop failures. Wildman stories were used to frighten children into obedience. Wild men were considered to be protectors of the forests and to be feared due to their wild unpredictable nature.


    It was believed that if you carried a likeness of the Wildman it would protect you from him. This is a major reason why these coins are typically well worn and often founded mounted in jewelry.

    Issuers of Wildman coins and medals include various German states, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Greece including Crete, and Switzerland

    So why do most of these coins come from Brunswick?

    I have searched and can find no definitive answers but did find two books that shed some light on the subject.


    1) "Wildmen in the Looking Glass - The Mythic Origins of European Otherness" - very dry and an excellent cure for insomnia. Dissects why people felt the need to create the Wildman myths.

    2) "The Wildman - Medieval Myth and Symbolism" - Free to download from The Metropolitan Museum of Art or you can purchase a hard copy from other sources for $200+

    Neither of these titles is a numismatic reference although the 2nd title does feature 2 coins on page 162 minted during the reign of Heinrich IX the Younger in Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. He was considered to be unrestrained, aggressive and destructive. Heinrich was rumored to have set fire to and burned an entire town to the ground. His own population referred to him as a Wildman. Heinrich had coins minted with his likeness on the obverse and a Wildman on the reverse. Some of these showed the Wildman holding a flame as a not so veiled threat of what he was capable of.

    So, did this simply start the trend and they just stayed with it, or was it more of a mascot or was it due to extreme superstition.

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    Wildman coins have become a hot item with a lot more collectors actively seeking them out. You can typically find a couple of dozen examples listed on eBay at any given time. I don't consider any individual issue common and actual mintage data is typically unknown. These were minted from the 1500's to the early 1800's although I have never seen any from the 1500's for sale. Mint state examples are not found often. These issues are often poorly struck due to the technology of the time.

    If you would like to see my entire Wildman collection visit:
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  3. Numismat

    Numismat World coin enthusiast Supporter

    Everything in this paragraph is the heart of coin collecting, bravo! :)
  4. sonlarson

    sonlarson World Silver Collector

    Awesome collection! I've always wanted to add a Wildman to my collection, but never had. Maybe it's time to find one. Thanks for the interesting write up.
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  5. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    I love the Wildemann coins from the Braunschweig states and have a few. About 30 years ago, I spent a semester at Technische Universitat Clausthal in the Harz Mountains which is prime wildemann country.

    Why was the wildemann prominent in the Brunswick/Braunscheig states? I can only speak for the Harz area which is mountainous with deep forests. There was also a lot of mining and prospecting activity in that region during the middle ages, so people would regularly be out in the woods. Legends are a good way to explain the unknown, and considering the rough terrain and isolation, the legend of the wildemann taking hold makes sense. It is also a big area for witch folklore. There are lots of cool notgeld with witches and devils from that region. Just my opinion to consider. Who knows if it is accurate.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  6. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

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  7. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    This is what Wikipedia (in german) has to say about the origins of the 'Wilder Mann
    and Wilder Frau':

    "Der Sage nach entdeckten Bergleute zu Zeiten der ersten Besiedlung des Oberharzes Fußspuren im Schlamm des Innerste-Flußbettes. Da sie glaubten, weit und breit die einzigen Menschen zu sein, gingen sie der Spur nach und stießen auf zwei riesenhafte Menschen. Eine Mann und eine Frau, nur mit Laub und einer Mooskappe bekleidet. Der Mann trug zudem einen langen Bart der ihm bis zur Hüfte reichte und als Waffe eine entwurzelte Tanne. Kaum bemerkten sie die Bergleute, flüchteten sie in den Wald. In der Folgezeit wurden sie noch öfters gesehen und sogar gejagt, doch niemand vermochte es ihnen zu folgen.
    Erst nach etlichen mißlungenen Versuchen gelang es den Leuten Pfeile auf sie abzuschießen und den Wilden Mann mit einem Pfeil am Fuß zu verletzen. Trotz der Verletzung kam es noch zu einem harten Kampf, der Mann schwang zur Verteidigung eine Tanne und die Wilde Frau verteidigte sich nach Kräften mit Fäusten und Zähnen. Letztendlich gelang ihr die Flucht, der Wilde Mann wurde überwältigt und in Fesseln gelegt. Auch die Höhle der Waldmenschen wurde entdeckt und anhand der Vorräte sah man, daß sie sich nur von rohem Fleisch und gesammelten Beeren ernährt hatten.
    Man versuchte den Mann zu befragen, doch er blieb stumm und blickte immer nur in die Richtung seiner Höhle. Speis und Trank verweigerte er, auch zu körperlicher Arbeit konnte man ihn nicht zwingen. Da niemand wußte, was mit ihm geschehen solle, beschloß man, ihn zum Herzog nach Braunschweig zu bringen, um ihn über das Schicksal des Wilden Manns entscheiden zu lassen. Unterwegs verstarb er allerdings.
    Zeitgleich mit seinem Tode entdeckten Bergleute in seiner Höhle die erste Erzader. Sie nannten die Grube daraufhin "Wilder Mann". Zum Andenken pflanzten sie an der Stelle seiner Gefangennahme eine Linde. Sie steht noch heute vor dem Hotel Rathaus. Auf einer Tafel davor ist zu lesen, der Wilde Mann habe den Baum selber voller Wut in die Erde gerammt."

    Basically, it says, it is a legend about a group of miners in the Harz area who came upon a huge man and woman, both dressed in leaves and with wild long hair living in the woods. The miners thought they were the only inhabitants in that area. They captured the wild man (the woman managed to escape) and they brought him to the Duke of Braunschweig so that he might decide what to do with him. Unfortunately the wild man did not survive. The miners then inspected the cave where they lived, and discovered what was to become the rich silver deposits of the Harz mines. In memory of the wild man, they named the mine "die Wilder Mann Grube".
  8. wcg

    wcg Well-Known Member

    Great write up Chris B! I love the backstory.

    Maybe Zohar will post his wildman taler here if he sees this thread. The detail on it is unreal.
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  9. Zohar444

    Zohar444 Member

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  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    Excellent thread.

    I live in Brunswick (Georgia), which is named for the old Brunswick in Germany. I've thought about collecting Brunswick coinage, but haven't really done so yet.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  11. Hus.thaler

    Hus.thaler Active Member

    This is a super-interesting post, and a really cool collecting area. Personally, I find the little 1 pfennig (or "pfenning") wildman coins from the late 1700s and early 1800s to be absolutely adorable.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  12. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    Being new here I didn't realize you were the "taleruniverse" guy. I have been admiring your collection for a while. Thanks for your comments.
  13. Seba79

    Seba79 Well-Known Member

    Awesome coin collection, congrats!
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  14. Oldhoopster

    Oldhoopster It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    I have 3 of those and always thought it would make a great date set to collect. What would be more fun searching for a 1913-S Lincoln cent or 1797 Wildemann 1 pfennig to fill a hole in your set?
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  15. Hus.thaler

    Hus.thaler Active Member

    Exactly. There are actually 2 parallel date sets you could collect, both the Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and the Brunswick-Luneburg-Calenburg-Hannover sets. It took me longer than I care to admit to learn that the difference between the otherwise identical coins is which hand the wildman uses to hold the tree.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  16. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    The nice thing to me about the Pfennigs is that for the most part they are reasonably priced. Even one in a nice grade is usually under $100. I don't know that I have ever seen UNC Pfennig not that I think about it. Here are the 2 varieties that Hus.thaler mentioned.

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  17. Zohar444

    Zohar444 Member

    Thanks a lot - appreciate it!
  18. dirty_brian

    dirty_brian Well-Known Member

    here's mine. its one of my favorite coins.
  19. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    Nice details in the face. It seems like that is the hardest thing to find.
  20. coin_nut

    coin_nut Supporter! Supporter

    My first (and maybe only) wildman arrived this morning. I do not intend to get addicted! 1758 Brunswick Luneburg Calenburg. 1758 GS-BLC 4 mg obv.JPG 1758 GS-BLC 4 mg rev.JPG
  21. Chris B

    Chris B Supporter! Supporter

    I didn't plan on it either. Just kind of happened. Nice coin.
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