World_Coin_Nut's Blog

31 Dec 2015

History of the German Coat of Arms

Coins - World | World_Coin_Nut

As many of you know I am an advocate for acquiring nice circulated coins. Most of my favorite coins are XF and AU graded pieces. I just like coins that have some history in circulation. Of course these same coins usually cost less than the premium prices commanded by their mint state examples. That said this 1922 German 3 Mark coin has been a favorite of mine since I acquired it. I purchased it as part of a lot several years ago and submitted to NGC because of its obvious high grade.

The German Imperial Eagle (Reichsadler) originates from a heraldic emblem believed to have been used by Charlemagne, the first Frankish ruler crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in 800, and derived ultimately from the eagle standard of the Roman army.

By the 13th century the imperial coat of arms was generally recognized as a black eagle with wings expanded with red beak and legs on a gold field. During the medieval period the imperial eagle was usually single-headed. A double-headed eagle is attributed as the arms of Frederick II. In 1433 the double-headed eagle was adopted by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor. Thereafter the double-headed eagle was used as the arms of the German emperor, and hence as the symbol of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. From the 12th century the Emperors also used a personal coat of arms separate from the imperial arms.

In 1815 a German Confederation of 39 loosely united German states was founded on the territory of the former Holy Roman Empire. Until 1848, the confederation did not have a coat of arms of its own. The Federal Diet meeting at Frankfurt am Main used a seal which carried the emblem of the Austrian Empire, since Austria had taken over the union's leadership. It showed a black, double-headed eagle, which Austria had adopted just before the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

During the 1848 revolution, a new Reich coat of arms was adopted by the National Assembly that convened in St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt. The black double-headed eagle was retained, but without the four symbols of the emperor: the sword, the imperial orb, the scepter and the crown. The eagle rested on a golden shield; above was a five-pointed golden star. On both sides the shield was flanked by three flags with the colors black-red-gold. The emblem, however, never gained general acceptance. The coat of arms itself was the result of a decision of the federal assembly.

The Reichsadler had already been introduced at the Proclamation of Versailles, although the first version had been only a provisional one. The design of the eagle was altered at least twice during the German Empire (1871–1918). It shows the imperial eagle, a comparatively realistic black eagle, with the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. The eagle has a red beak, tongue and claws, with open wings and feathers. In contrast to its predecessor, the eagle of the German Confederation, it has only one head, looking to the right, symbolizing that important parts of the old empire, Austria and Bohemia, were not part of this new empire.

After the introduction of the republic the coat of arms of Germany was also altered accounting for the political changes. The Weimar Republic (1918–1933), retained the Reichsadler without the symbols of the former Monarchy. This left the black eagle with one head, facing to the right, with open wings but closed feathers, with a red beak, tongue and claws and white highlighting. This is the version found on this coin.



Level 7

I'm glad I found this one. What an impressive design. And the homework you did is like always. Terrific. I think I have run out of adjectives to describe your blogs and pictures. Thanks for it all. Mike


Level 4

very interesting info thanks for researching all about a great looking coin


Level 3

Great info thanks! Pretty striking coin too!


Level 5

Wow! The coin looks fresh off the press! Thanks for the history lesson - very interesting particularly the tracing back to Charlemagne.

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