Tom Y. writes: As a collector of Imperial and earlier German coins, I’ve often wondered about the significance and history of my namesake the Wildman on the coins of Brunswick-Luneburg & Wolfenbuttel. Can you help?
The story of the “Wildman” (Vilda Hiya) coinage is fascinating and worth pursuing. It is probably one of the most interesting symbols in numismatics. Coins with this symbol were minted from the mid-1500’s to the beginning of the 19th Century and the symbol appears on various denominations from Brunswick-Luneburg, Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel and other German States.
The Wildman usually is shown with an uprooted fir tree but can appear with signs of the zodiac, supporting a shield with another Wildman and even holding a candle. The source of the Wildman seems to be based on a mythological character that was supposed to have lived in the Harz Mountains during the Middle ages. The symbol has another philosophical meaning that infers that all people have some of the “wildman” in them and though this side of humanity was responsible for creative activities, the “Wildman” needed to be controlled to avoid his darker side. (May the force be with you). The idea is very much a part of the German philosopher Nietzche’s thoughts (read up on theÂ uberman).