Eagles on the Imperial Crests of Coinage
Throughout history, imperial crests and coats of arms have been dominated by eagles. Here are a few examples from Europe and Africa:
Russiaâ€™s silver 20 Kopeks in the early 20th century bears a highly detailed double-headed eagle. The eagles are jointly crowned by a single Crown. In the middle of the eaglesâ€™ body, is the main coat of arms, while smaller ones are on each wing. In its talons are a scepter and a globe with Cross on top. The intricate details are susceptible to wear, but in high grades, are beautiful coins.
This Eagle design dates to at least the early 18th century. Over time, the design quality and level of detail has improved with technology - from crude outlines of birds to crisp lines in the 20th century. The double- headed eagle was used until the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917.
The Austro- Hungarian eagle is very similar in appearance to that of the Russian Empire. The double- headed eagles have a large crown above them, but each have their own smaller crown as well. The eagles have their own coat of arms on their chest, but lack smaller ones on the wings. They also grasp a globe in its right talon. Instead of a scepter, it has a sword in its left hand. This design was used until the end of the Austro - Hungarian Empire after World War 1. In its wake, the Republic of Austria was born. It would have its own seal which bore its own eagle (with only one head though).
When Poland regained its independence in 1917 after 150 years of occupation, their Marka coinage bore a Crowned Eagle representing the Kingdom. This single- headed bird is far less elegant than its Russian and Austria counterparts, with awkward looking talons and legs. The Eagle has far less symbolism, without a coat of arms on its chest or a globe in its talons. When Poland became a republic in 1923, eagle became simpler still, losing its crown. This eagle looks more natural, although its wings curve unnaturally towards its head to fit on a circular coin.
Egypt (United Arab Republic)
In 1958, the people of Egypt and Syria ratified the union between the two countries, creating the United Arab Republic. The union between the two countries lasted only three years, but Egypt continued to use the name on its coins for another decade. The eagle was very different from the imperial ones discussed above. It was much simpler in design, with unadorned wings pointing down. The shield on its chest bears two stars, but is not grandly decorated. It is standing on a pedestal, with empty talons.
Next week: Eagles from the rest of the World