That is a fantastic coin! And with an unusual motif, for sure.
Not knowing anything about these coins, but I just had to find out why on earth the city of Lüneburg chose to have the Man in the Moon on its coins
. And there is a reason, of course, and I thought I might as well share my findings with you.
The crescent moon is actually part of the large
coat of arms of Lüneburg, as can be seen on for instance the 2 thaler in this Numista link (look to the top left): https://en.numista.com/catalogue/pieces297225.html
As I suspected, and which is hinted at in one of the auction links @collector.detector provided, it has to do with associating the Latin word for the moon, luna
, with the name Lüneburg. The Latin name for Lüneburg is Lunaburgum
- Moon City - and according to a medieval myth the name stems from that Julius Caesar founded a temple on a nearby mountain in honor of the goddess Luna when he and his armies campaigned in Northern Germany.
A good story, and maybe useful at the time to promote the historical importance of the city as part of the Holy Roman Empire. But, just a story ... Caesar never reached that far north in Germany, and he didn't particularly revere Luna.
Instead, the Luna/Lüne part of the city's name may come from the Langobardic word hliuni
, meaning "refuge site."
The inscription, VISITAVIT NOS ORIENS EX ALTO, also intrigued me. Something like "visited us from the east high" - perhaps something to do with the moon and its rising in the east?
Nope. It is part of a Bible citation: Luke 1:78, "per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri, in quibus visitavit nos, oriens ex alto
," which in the King James translation is "through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us." This passage from the Bible is about John the Baptist
, who is patron saint for Walsrode Abbey, the oldest monastery (founded 986) in the Principality of Lüneburg. Also, St John's Church in Lüneburg is the city's oldest church. So it is all about St John, who is also depicted on some other Lüneburg coins.
Thank you for sharing this very interesting coin!