Sterling S. writes: I have a large 1795 coin in fairly good shape for its age. The front has a male bust (perhaps Francis II of Austria) and the words, “FRANC II D G R I S A GER HIE HVN BOH REX”. There is an H mint mark below the bust. The reverse has the date, 1795, a coat of arms shaped like a large floral cross with three head crowns and the words, “ARCH AVST DVX BVRG LOTH BRAB COM FLAN”. There are also words scattered along the edge, for example, “FIDE” (?) and other hard to read words. Can you identify the coin, translate the inscriptions and supply the missing edge words and their translation? What is the coin worth for various conditions? Thank you!
You have a 1795 Austrian Netherlands, Kronenthaler. The “H” represents the mint mark of the Gunzburg Mint. The obverse shows the head of King Franz II of Austria (1792-1835). The abbreviated Latin legend is around: FRANC II D G R I S A GER HIE HVN BOH REX.
To translate most European coins one has to “know the code”. Some factoids:
- Most countries up until the 20th century universally had Latin legends. Latin was the international language and it kept with the tradition of the ancient Romans and their conversion to Christianity.
- Rulers usually inherited their titles and after many generations there could be many. They insisted on getting them all on their coins, a daunting task for the coin’s designer (thus the extreme abbreviations).
- Certain terms became standard abbreviations that everyone understood. Here is the breakdown of the above legend:
Franc II – This was the king’s name. The Germanic version was Franz. He was king of Austria.
D. G. – the initials of “Dei Gratia” or in English “By the Grace of G-d”
R.I.S.A. – the Latin initials of “Romanorum Imperator Semper August” -Emperor of the Romans Ever Supreme.
(Is this flowering enough yet?) Now we have to tell you what we are king of:
GER – Germany
HIE – Jerusalem (now we’re boasting)
BO – Bohemia
REX – the word “King”-Latin grammar dictates that you place this last.
The legend continues on the reverse surrounding an ornate cross with alternating crowns (more titles): ARCH AVST DVX BVRG LOTH BRAB COM FLAN (Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy and Lorraine, Count of Flanders (Netherlands).
You didn’t supply the edge motto other then to say that it began with “Fide” but a possible edge motto might be: “Fidi Pietati Huic et Futuro Aevo Sacrum”(Sacred to the faith and piety for this future age) or simply, “Fides et Victoria” (Faith and Victory) or “Fide et Lege” (Faith and Law). The function of an ornate lettered edge was to prevent the practice of “clipping”, that is taking off bits of metal to store and remelt later. Remember that coins were intrinsic and silver and gold coins had the prescribed amount of precious metal that corresponded with their value.
The numismatic value of this coin depends on the condition (grade).Approximate Range: $10 – $100.