Unidentified medievals

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by catadc, Jan 26, 2020.

  1. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    One year ago, when i was exploring various periods, places and metals, bought some medieval coins to see how they feel in hand and how i feel about them.
    20200125_234559.jpg 20200125_234510.jpg 20200125_234734.jpg 20200125_234644.jpg
    Medievals had no success and as of today, i still have no clue what these are and where to start searching for identification. Please help.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
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  3. Bayern

    Bayern Active Member

    Top coin, looks to be Hungarian denar, mid-1500's, featuring Mary holding baby Jesus. Many varieties can be found. Just woke up, so a quick reply to your question:) 2nd coin also Hungarian.
    tibor likes this.
  4. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The first thing to notice is that these are not official issues. The Hungarian denars that these specimens are mimicking were at both times billon with a silver look. These coins are contemporary counterfeits struck in copper, which probably had a very thin silvery coating to pass as official coinage.

    The second coin is an imitation of a denar from the first quarter of the 17th century of either Matthias II or Gabriel/Gabor Bethlen, very likely with reversed and mirrored legends.

    The first one is more interesting as it copies a denar from the Habsburg kings of Hungary in the 16th century. This is the golden age of counterfeiting for the Hungarian denars. But the legends seem to be literate and might make sense, at least on the reverse:

    DIVA . NI .... AVIE

    The Hungarian denar was extensively counterfeited during the 16th century, but also "adopted" by neighboring realms as local coin. One of these realms was the Principality of Moldova, where the denar was introduced in 1558 under Alexandru Lăpușneanu. These Moldavian coins had a reverse legend reading:


    but were struck in good billon, thus not to defraud but rather to encourage trade between Moldova and Transylvania/Hungary.

    Your coin might be a counterfeit of such a neighboring coinage, of a Hungarian blueprint, but not exactly Hungarian. I have never seen a denar with DIVA instead of PATRONA but the Habsburg era is not my field.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
  5. tibor

    tibor Well-Known Member

    @seth77 That is an amazing write up. I've put together
    a few sets of these Denars over the years (1503-1620).
    After searching thru a few thousand pieces I never found
    a piece that I thought was suspicious. I'll have to pay better
    attention if I take on that project again. Thanks again for the
    informative write up. The Habsburg era may not be your
    field, but you sure know the topic of Denars!!
  6. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Very interesting information, seth77. I knew next-to-nothing about these issues, now I feel more informed.

    I believe this is an "official" issue of one of the coins in question, of good silver:

    Hungary - 1615 dinar $0.99 Jan. 2018 (0).jpg

    Hungary AR Denar 1615
    Matthias II (1608-1619)
    Kremnitz Mint

    MAT•D•G•RO•I•S•AV•GE•HV•B•R, Crowned shield K - B either side / PATRO•HVNGA•1615, Madonna with child.
    (0.74 grams / 14 mm)
    tibor likes this.
  7. catadc

    catadc Well-Known Member

    That is an excellent point. The Hungarian denari, as much as as read, are with
    Thank you for such a detailed answer. I did not consider this possibility, although the interesting thing that raised some questions is that I do not see a date on either of the two coins.

    I knew about the "official" counterfeiting of the Polish coins by Dabija in Moldova. After your post, I read a bit and seems that the counterfeiting was extensive also in Tara Romaneasca (less data found for Transylvania) and included the Hungarian denars. Getting more info at this point would be too complicated and time consuming (language barriers, availability of data online).

    As I do not specialize in the area, I will simply keep the coins as "contemporary counterfeits". Thank you again.
    tibor likes this.
  8. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    The "Dabija șalăi" were a bit later but their function was pretty much the same: providing small change for a needy local economy, that had been relying on foreign currency for far too long. Your first spec might be worth some more research, at least to figure out if it copies an actual official coinage or the DIVA legend is just an interpretation of a rather resourceful counterfeiter somewhere in the general area where these denars circulated as legal tender in the 16th century. A place of origin would really help further research.
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