Medievalcoinage.com
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Last updated March 17, 2012 - Sean Breazeal - Central Utah Coins

A site about Europe's
Early Dated Coins of Europe
AN ONLINE EXPANSION OF THE FREY CATALOGUE OF DATED EUROPEAN COINAGE BEFORE 1501
With additional coins not included by Frey from numerous catalogues through 1530 as are found and identified.

IMAGE GALLERY IS ONLINE AND BEING FILLED IN, TAKE A LOOK.
GERMAN STATES A-Z ARE FINISHED, MORE FILL-INS COMING; MANY, MANY, MANY MORE COMING.

CHECK OUT MY GROWING LIST OF ONLINE COIN BOOKS. Like everything else here, it's a glacial work in progress.

Or this less easily navigated but much larger directory listing of books.

I HAVE OVER 1,000 MEDIEVAL AND MODERN COINS FOR SALE AT VCOINS
Central Utah Coins: Medievals and Central Utah Coins: World

Select a period:
1166-1429 · 1430s · 1440s · 1450s · 1460s · 1470s · 1480s ·
1491-1495
· 1496-1500
1501 1502 1503 1504 1505 1506 1507 1508 1509 1510

Text listing 1166-1530 sorted by Issuing State, by Denomination, by Date
These files were last updated on July 9, 2006 and should be largely complete. There are still duplicate listings to weed out and many minor varieties of these listed exist, but the bulk of European dated coins minted before 1531 should be included.

Search Query

Brabant Double Briquet Reverse

Aachen, 1420 Short Cross (Turnos) Groschen
Obv: +SCS:KAROL:MA-G':IPERATO'
Outer Rev: +ANNO:DOMINI:MILESIMO:CCCC:XX
Inner Rev: +MONETA:VRB'.AQVS'
Diam. 25.7mm, 1.78g, Frey New 24

Köln (Riel), 1438 Weisspfennig
Obv: +A'.DN'.M'.CC-CC·XXXVIII
Rev: *THEOD'-ARCPI'-COLON'
Diam. 24.0mm, 1.90g, Frey 49


Early anno domini dated coins as a collecting area are generally agreed to be those prior to 1501 in large part because of the pioneering book on the subject by Albert Frey, who is truly the father of the study. By this time many states and cities of northern Europe were dating at least their larger silver coins and especially goldguldens and in just a few more decades it was unusual for a European coin NOT to have a date. I intend to consider coins dated to roughly the 1530s as there are some medieval holdouts even until this time.

While many Islamic coins have earlier dates, they are virtually always in the Islamic Hegira calendar and not anno domini. Probably the earliest European dated coins of all are Spanish coins minted by Alfonso VIII in imitation of the Moorish coins whose issuers were slowly being driven out of the Iberian peninsula. However, they are dated using the contemporary system in place in Spain at the time called the Es-Safar, or Spanish Era, which dates 38 BC as its year 1. A couple of types are known. One is a series of gold dinars dated from 1223 through 1255 Es-Safar (1183-1217 AD), the other is a single obolus of 1204 Es-Safar (1166 AD). This is probably the first coin on the European continent to have ANY date written with Roman numerals [MCCIIII], the dinars have the date written out as Arabic words rather than numerals (such as writing "Two Thousand Five" on a modern coin instead of 2005).

The earliest known Christian era dated coin is a denier from 1234 minted in Roskilde, Denmark. There is some debate as to whether this coin really should be considered a genuine dated coin in the traditional sense along with the others described below. For one reason, it has no legend as such, just [ANNO DOMINI] on the obverse and [MCCXXXIIII] on the reverse. Secondly, there are no other coins with a date minted for another 138 years anywhere in Europe and even then it was not in Denmark. For the story behind the coin, you can refer to Albert Frey's book described below, or if you can read Danish, you can read about and see the coin online here.

In spite of the early start that parts of Austria (1450s Graz), Germany (1372 Aachen), Switzerland (1424 St. Gallen) and the Low Countries (1372 Schoonvorst) got in dating, it would be quite some time before all of Europe joined in. France issued a double gros from Lorraine in 1491. The first dated coins of England are of Edward VI's reign on his first shilling in 1548. Spain had continued issuing coins in the style of its convoluted Habsburg territories throughout Western Europe, some as early as 1500. Spain itself began dating coins in the mid 1550's but didn't make it a habit until 1588. Hungary was dating its coinage by 1499, Poland by 1507.

While many previous books on medieval coinage listed issues with dates prior to 1501, a comprehensive listing of the coins was first compiled in Dated European Coinage prior to 1501 by Albert Frey in 1914. It lists 540 coins from 1372 to 1500, Aachen to Zwolle. Reprints in 1973 and 2000 added over a hundred more and still others are being discovered sporadically. The total number of such coins in the wild and not locked up in museums and old personal collections is of course impossible to know. Given the extreme rarity of most types it is my opinion that the number is not much over ten thousand, if that. A census in 1973 of the world's major numismatic museum holdings by David Cervin, who likely had the largest personal collection of early dated coins at the time of his death, yielded only 3290 pre-1501 coins. His estimate at the time was that no more than six thousand exist worldwide in total. Bob Levinson, another early dated enthusiast with a large collection, points out that the number was not arrived at by a survey of private holdings, however, and is therefore likely too low an estimate. Having examined older auction catalogues, it is clear that thousands of examples are held in private hands, common enough that they have avoided special attention until recently.

Mr. Cervin's passing was a great loss to the small community dedicated to this specialized branch of collecting. In June 2003, the auction house A.G. Basel (Sale #29) sold the Cervin Collection. 233 lots were available, some as multiple coins, and every lot sold. A rough estimate of the total sale value based on the prices realized is in the neighborhood of $80,000, a testament to the popularity of these coins even among non-dedicated collectors. Their appeal appears to be rooted in both their scarcity and simple curiosity about the unusual and "pioneering".

If you've got some scans of your own coins or others that you wish to share, I would be happy to add them to the image gallery/database! Please include as much information as you have about it (region, ruler, size, etc.)

Any comments and corrections are always welcome!
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MORE LINKS TO PAGES ON THIS SITE
IMAGE GALLERY
With scads of coins, not just medievals. *COMING SOON*
MEDIEVAL COIN BOOKS AND CATALOGUES
25 book reviews, 14 booksellers,
plus online bibliographies

 


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