Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel 1702 thaler Dav-2930

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Stack's Bowers 2015 NYINC sale, lot 623
photo courtesy Stack's Bowers LLC
This specimen was lot 623 in Stacks-Bowers NYINC sale (New York, January 2015), where it sold for $11,162.50. The catalog description[1] noted,
"GERMANY. Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. Taler, 1702. Rudolph August & Anton Ulrich (1685-1704). NGC MS-61. VERY RARE. An impressive medallic type Taler displaying two allegorical scenes, outlining the political strife present in Brunswick at the turn of the eighteenth century. Following the death of Augustus the Younger, Rudolph Augustus was made the Duke of Brunswick-Luneberg. Within a short time the Duke had made his younger brother Anton Ulrich co-regent as he exhibited more interest in government affairs than Rudolph. From 1685 until 1692, the two brothers ruled jointly and without incident until the Hanoverian prince electorship was created, and neither brother received the office. Upon the outbreak of the War of Spanish Succession (1701), when Anton Ulrich made a pact with France in defiance of Emperor Leopold I, the Principality of Wolfenbuttel was thusly invaded by the now strengthened Hanover and Luneberg. This resulted in Anton Ulrich being stripped of his Ducal powers and becoming essentially an outcast. Rudolph Augustus briefly became sole rule once more and signed a treaty to end the hostilities and return his younger brother to the Emperor's grace. To illustrate this precarious fraternal situation, the obverse of this Taler displays a pair of horses, both hitched to an orb, emblazoned with the combined monogram of both ruling brothers 'RAV', suspended between them as they strain in opposing directions unable to separate the two halves, even with aide from a nearby unicorn and lighting bolts from the heavens. This may seem a straight forward if odd visual metaphor, but it is actually based on a real event in the recent history of German science. In 1654 scientist and mayor of Magdeburg, Otto von Guericke, demonstrated his newly designed vacuum pump and the basic concepts of atmospheric pressure, by fitting together two halves of a metal sphere and then creating a vacuum within them, creating a seal which could not be broken even when attached to opposing teams of fifteen horses. Thus we have a recent and mystifying event fresh in the cultural zeitgeist being used to show the inseparable nature of this fraternal co-regency. The reverse displays the allegorical second half of the brothers' gaffe, as well as the outcome of Guericke's experiment. The same monogrammed orb is seen split in two by a simple twist of the wrist on a pressure valve, the "RA" half (Rudolph Augustus) is left standing while the "AV" half (Anton Ulrich) has fallen aside. An impressive and immediately attractive piece combining the political and scientific developments of the age, with the masterful visual storytelling of a medalist. Deep old envelope toning over lustrous surfaces. Displaying some delicate rose and sky blue hues. Sharply struck and very attractive. From the Rockaway Collection."

Recorded mintage: unknown but rare.

Specification: silver.

Catalog reference: Dav-2931; KM-641; Welter-2073b.

Source:

  • [1]Ponterio, Richard, The January 2015 NYINC Auction: Ancient Coins, World Coins & Paper Money, Featuring the John W. Adams and Ray Czabor Collections, Irvine, CA: Stack's Bowers LLC, 2014.
  • Michael, Thomas, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1701-1800, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2016.

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