Phil H. asks: What can you tell me about a silver coin struck in the 1300’s in Germany relating to the Black Plague. It had a cross on one side and the imprint of a hand on the other side? What are they worth? Thanks.
Germany didn’t exist as a national entity in this epoch but was a group of independent States. A coin that was common to this group was the silver penny or denar. Modern numismatists assigned the name “bracteate”, derived from the Latin “bractea”, a thin metal plate, as a way of describing the “look” of these coins to collectors.
The designs varied with time and State but were limited to primarily to either religious themes or religious architecture. The design you mention is most closely related to the issues of Swabia from the Hall Mint. These issues began at the end of the 13th century (c. 1296) and continued for a good number of years. The coin eventually became know as “Heller”, that is, minted at the Hall Mint.
Note that the Black Death didn’t appear in Europe until sometime after 1334 and this coinage design predates this event. The hand motif, represents the blessing, usually of the Bishop, and the cross represents Christ (In effect, “the blessings of Christ”). The use of hands either alone or as a Bishop raising his hands in blessing are common on these silver pennies.