Rick writes: Hi, Doc: going through family coins I came across a silver coin The head side shows a man with a cross and the letters going around the outside are “WOLFFGDGSREPRBSBCARDDSCHRATTENBACHEPOLODUX” cant tell where one word ends and another begins. On the back is an ornate crest and the letters on that side are RIPSRCBCPROTGERSCR MCONINETACTVAL*1730″ What is the origin of this coin? And is it rare or not?
The coin you have is a German Taler and it does puzzle those who haven’t seen these before (and often many of us who have). The German rulers, Kings, Dukes, Cardinals often had long titles and out of respect these titles HAD to be on the coin somehow so an abbreviation system was developed. The legends were usually in Latin but sometimes German was used also. The formula generally was:
The Name of the Ruler DG (Deus Gratia-By The Grace of G-d) Ruler, Cardinal etc., Duke of etc. This would normally surround the portrait of the person described by the legend. In your case, I can’t identify the ruler, WO is unknown to me but you can find the word CARD (cardinal) POL(Poland), DUX (Duke). It would help to know a detailed description of the shield and if there were monograms, as that would help identify the specific State. The reverse legend is more standard. The SRIP stands for Sacri Romani Imperii Princeps or for those a little rusty in their Latin, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The rest of the code SR (could mean Arch Chamberlain) PROTGER (Protector of the Germans).
I would need more information from Rick and a little help from our readers to give any further effort to identify this coin.
Are these interesting coins valuable? Many are but condition, type, origin, Mint and rarity all come into play to reflect market value. In any case, these coins are fascinating, historic and were the ancestors of our Silver dollar.