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Coinyoshi's Blog

13 Aug 2021

Coins of the German States: Prussia

Coins - World | Coinyoshi

So, I was reading my book in my basement, and I found a coin from Danzig lying on the ground. I had lost it a few weeks earlier, and seeing it gave me a great idea for a blog series, one on the German States. Even though Danzig wasn't a German state, at one point it was part of Prussia. So I thought that it would be nice to do something other than 450 words and create another series.

Prussia is a very interesting German state, at least in my opinion. It went from a very small state that was split in half to one of the most powerful, militaristic, and cultural states in Central Europe. It was Otto von Bismarck's home state and ended up being the one to unify Germany, putting Prussian king Wilhelm II on the throne of a united Germany, taking the title of Kaiser. Here is the story of their coins.


The Prussian currency was called the Mark, or Preuschen Reichsmark. Before 1821, the Prussian coinage system was very confusing, but in 1821, it got simplified to 12 Pfennige to a Silbergroschen (also called a Groschen), 30 Silbergroschen to a thaler, and then 3 thalers to a mark. After that, there were 2 mark, 5 mark, 10 mark, and 20 mark coins. Most countries with a king or queen (usually) have their monarch on the obverse, and Prussia is no different. Starting with Frederich I and ending with Wilhelm II, these kings have been on all Prussian coins except commemoratives and other special coins.


Some of the most expensive Prussian coins ever are the gold 20 Mark coins, the highest denomination on a Prussian coin. On the obverse is a portrait of the king or kaiser that ruled the kingdom at the time, his name, and the words Deutcher Kaiser Koenig von Preussen (translates to German King Konig from Prussia). The reverse shows a Prussian eagle, surrounded by the words Deutches Reich, 20 mark, and the date. First minted by Wilhelm I in 1871, they continued through the final two rulers of the Kingdom of Prussia, Frederick III and Wilhelm II.


1888 was a very weird year for Prussian coins. Three kings were on the throne that year, as Wilhelm I died in March of that year, and his son Frederick ascended to the throne only to die of cancer 99 days later on June 15. His son, Wilhelm II, then became the king and ruled Prussia until he became Kaiser of Germany many years later. So, if you ever get a Prussian coin from 1888 whether it be a 20 mark or one Pfennig, I would highly recommend checking which king is on your coin. 1888 is the only year in Prussian history where three different kings are featured on official coins. Most of the Prussian coins from that year have the same exact designs, just different people and names on the obverse.


When I started researching Prussian coins, it took me to the articles about Nazi German coins. It is relatively hard to find Prussian coins without the correct keywords. To learn more, check out the websites below in the bibliography.


Bibliography

Prussian 20 mark coin | Currency Wiki | Fandom

Coins from the Kingdom of Prussia - Numista

Prussian coins catalog with images and values, currency prices and photo, German thaler (worldcoinsinfo.com)


Comments

slybluenote

Level 5

Great post! I found your information very interesting. I recall my first experience with foreign currency. In 1973 I started my first tour of Europe in a town called Bamberg. It was quite a culture shock to have to figure out their currency which at the time was the German mark. The only thing I remember is that U.S. service members got 3 marks and 93 Pfennig for 1 dollar. For 5 dollars you could go downtown, eat a good meal, and have a few "beirs", which was a GREAT deal! Thanks for posting!

Golfer

Level 5

Russian coins are popular. Nice learning information. Thanks

Kepi

Level 6

Good research. Thanks for the information! ; )

CoinHunter

Level 5

Nice blog!

Mike

Level 7

I picked up something today. That makes it a good day. Thanks

Mokie

Level 6

Very interesting, I enjoyed that. I used to have some Danzig coinage, quite lovely designs.

Longstrider

Level 6

Great blog. I enjoyed learning from it. Thanks.

CheerioCoins

Level 3

Nice coin! Too bad you lost it :(

Coinyoshi

Level 4

Actually, picture on blog is not Danzig coin, but picture of Prussian coin I found online

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Handsome fellow in profile, reminds me of Teddy, not Franklin

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Lol, Danzig, much like a large part of Europe is really German. They just didn't realize it! (A tongue in cheek, if you will)

Coinyoshi

Level 4

I found picture online: no prussian coins in my own collection :(

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