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Centuries of German Coinage

December, 2010
By: Lance Tchor & Larry Michelson

Issued from the Middle Ages to the present, coins of Germany offer an abundance of collecting options.

More coins have been have been issued by Germany and the German States than by any other country. A series of historical events resulted in coinage unique to each time period and sovereignty.

Because of the vast numbers of issues available, you could spend your entire collecting career specializing solely in this area.

Germany’s roots can be traced to the 843 Treaty of Verdun, which partitioned the Carolingian empire founded by Charlemagne in 800.

Wings Coins article in the Numismatist - Centuries of German Coinage

In 1814 the Congress of Vienna established the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund), a loose league of 39 sovereign states. In 1871, after the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was proclaimed.

This empire consisted of four kingdoms, five grand duchies, thirteen duchies and principalities, three free cities and one nonautonomous province.

Wings Coins article in the Numismatist - Centuries of German CoinageThe German Empire was responsible for the issuance of coins valued at 1 mark or less. Each of the states had the right to issue gold and silver coins in larger denominations, and dozens did so. Their issues typically are found in coin catalogs under the heading “German States” (as opposed to “Germany”).

Coins listed under the heading “Germany” date from 1871. The German Empire lasted until 1918, when the monarchy collapsed
near the end of World War I. The Weimar Republic (1919-33) arose from a national assembly tasked with writing a new constitution.

The Third Reich (1933-45) witnessed the rise and fall of Adolph Hitler. After Germany surrendered to Allied forces in May 1945, it was divided into four military zones. In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) were formed when the United States, Great Britain and France combined the zones they had occupied.

Wings Coins article in the Numismatist - Centuries of German CoinageEast and West Germany were reunited in 1990, becoming the Federal Republic of Germany. How should you go about collecting
coins from the German States and/or Germany?

After researching the many choices, choose an area that interests you. One way to collect would be by theme, for example, rulers, time periods, mintmarks, historical events, locations, denominations and geographic areas.

As always, consult your wallet before diving into any collecting area. Collecting German coins can be extremely complex, but the quest can be quite rewarding as you familiarize yourself with the history of the German States and modern Germany.

If you have a topic or question you’d like us to address, please leave a comment below or send us an email: info@wingscoins.com.

Reproduced courtesy of The Numismatist, official publication of the American Numismatic Association (www.money.org)

• iStockPhoto/Federico Arnao
• Ana Museum/John Nebel
• www.wikipedia.org & iStockPhoto/Buretsu (coins)

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