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Künker to sell silver

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The largest collection of löser and mining coins ever assembled, in this case by Preussag AG, will be auctioned off by London Coin Gallery in collaboration with Künker of Osnabrück, Germany.

One of the

One of the coins featured in the auction.

The sale is slated for Oct. 30 in London.

The collection is comprised of 217 löser and 327 mining coins.

Preussag AG is today TUI AG.

There are 12 Julius lösers alone – differing in year of issue and weight. The entire catalog.

The oldest lösers date back to the year 1574. On the obverse, they depict Duke Julius of Brunswick-Lüneburg in armor, the battle axe in his right hand, his left placed on the hilt of his sword. Engraved to his left and right is the year the coin was struck.

The duke’s coat of arms, held by two wild men, decorates the reverse. The man on the right presents a torch, the one on the left an orb, which offers free space for the punch featuring the value. The visual separation of letter and motif bands by lines is characteristic of the coins. They do not only carry the title of their minting authority, By grace of God, Duke Julius of Brunswick-Lüneburg, but also a specific description of the coin, minted in Heinrichstadt according to the imperial regulations for weight and fine content, called Brunswick Julius löser in the weight of 10 talers (both in translation). Added to this are further quotes, mainly from the Bible, as well as a highly unusual depiction of the 12 zodiac signs and the seven personified planets of the sun system.

Responsible for the coinage is Julius of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1568-1589). He was an exceptional figure in the 16th century. Suffering from a walking disability and once destined to become a priest, he took over his father’s territory due to the death of his older brother. The country he inherited was in a dire state. But thanks to his exceptional education he was able to implement an effective economic policy. The ruler became an entrepreneur. One of his projects was the Julius löser, an international currency suited for long-distance trading as well as saving.

On Oct. 7, 1573, still a couple of months before the minting of the first Julius lösers, the duke issued an official tariffing. In the Early Modern Period, such a tariffing corresponded roughly to the brightly colored digits that we see on the display panels of exchange offices around the world today.

A tariffing fixed the rates at which coins could be exchanged and stated the fees that were due for such an exchange. What is interesting is the place that Julius’ lösers hold in the ranking. It is listed immediately after the portugalöser, which indicates that Julius wanted his new coin to be associated with the already introduced and highly popular denomination.

The Hamburg portugalöser were gold coins at a weight of 10 ducats and modeled on the Portuguese 10-cruzado pieces. The latter were known all across Europe since the main importer of North African gold, Portugal, exported the gold to Northern Europe in precisely this form. Hence the name.

Thanks to his mining activities in the Harz region, the duke on his part was also in possession of a coveted resource: silver. He intended to use this silver in order to establish a stable currency.

While all lösers from 1574, the first year of minting, display the nominal value of 5 and 10 thalers, respectively, their actual weight was only four and a half thalers and nine, respectively.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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