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Ferdinand I Prager Groschen - Kuttenberg? - 1520-1530, Interesting Variety!

 
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 Posted 07/20/2019  11:28 pm Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
The Prager Groschen (Prague groschen) was first struck in Bohemia as far back as the early 14th c. and survived for over 200 years until it was brought to an end under Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I (Habsburg) in the 1540s.

During that time, the basic design and legends remained largely unchanged, apart from spelling and style variations, with the Bohemian rampant lion front and center, and of course the relevant ruler listed.

I think this particular example was struck in Kuttenberg (the modern Czech Kutná Hora) and would likely date from the 1520s to early 1530s.

That being said, I wouldn't have been overly interested, but what got my attention about this particular coin (despite some strike and flan issues) was the retrograde (backwards) N's in the reverse inner legend; interestingly, the obverse legend has a "correct" N but is seemingly missing the final "S" in PRAGENSES!

I've seen a few different Ferdinand Prager Groschen before and none of them have had the retrograde N's.

I could not find this particular variant listed in Markl, although it appears to be a variant of Markl 1031, and I couldn't find a match in Saurma.

Anyway, here's a description, and the coin.

ca. 1520-1530 AR Prager Groschen (no date)
Ferdinand I Habsburg
Presumably a Kuttenberg issue.
Unevenly struck on a decent but worn flan. ~25mm.
Markl 1031 (some variant?)

Obv: Bohemian lion rampant in a beaded circle
Legend - GROSSI + PRAGENSE(S?), flowering vine/stem

Rev: A crown with three annulets left, right, and below, centered and encircled.
Inner legend - FERDINANDVS o PRIM * with retrograde N's
Outer legend - DEI : GRATIA : REX : BOEM +

Thoughts/opinions welcomed or further attributions!


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Edited by paralyse
07/20/2019 11:30 pm
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 Posted 07/21/2019  12:17 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Bob L to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting variety indeed, Adam. Congrats on the pickup.

And maybe even more unique than you thought: If you look carefully you can see that the "O" and "I" in "GROSSI" are retrograde too! Wow!

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 Posted 07/21/2019  12:41 am  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Those darn retrograde O's and I's make this an R11 rarity, now that you mention it.
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 Posted 07/21/2019  05:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
As you know, I seem to focus on the letter A--at least one of those looks retrograde on your coin too.

For comparison, here is an early Praggrosschen from AD 1278-1305 (Saurma 390). The letterforms are quite different, including sideways Ss. For me, the most interesting design element is the lion's tail. Yours is particularly ornate.




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 Posted 07/21/2019  09:14 am  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm going to have to be on the look out for these coins, the retrograde letters really stand out. The die cutter must have been in his cups the day he made the die.
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 Posted 07/21/2019  12:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Perhaps Ron, but some of these letterforms weren't completely settled back then. The letter N, in particular, is often enough found retrograde that I would not be surprised if that was actually the correct in some places at some times.
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 Posted 07/21/2019  2:45 pm  Show Profile   Check echizento's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add echizento to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
That's interesting Dave, you would think by this time in history lettering would be in the right orientation.
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 Posted 07/21/2019  8:39 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
you would think by this time in history lettering would be in the right orientation.


I've just been spending some time researching a coin minted from 1513 to 1544. Take a look at the letter R on this coin in the word BAR, as minted in 1537 (it is the same in all 30 years of this issue):


I think it's another good illustration of the "not yet standardized" point made by @spence.

And yes, I was a bit surprised to find how persistent it was in this series, as the gothic R was pretty well established, even in earlier coins from this place. But I think this was a period of transition between gothic and modern forms. More lettering on this same coin shows gothic looking D and G followed by more modern L and O, and a very unusual H which I take to be artistic expression of the engraver:



Maybe in the transition from Gothic to later styles, there was an upheaval in the forms? Because the late 13th c. Prager Groschen posted by @spence does not have the retrograde N.


Edited by tdziemia
07/22/2019 08:20 am
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 Posted 07/21/2019  9:09 pm  Show Profile   Check paralyse's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The English letters "j" and "w" (to name two) weren't truly more or less standardized in their current familiar forms until well into the 18th c. Prior to that, "uu" stood in for "w" - literally, "double U" - and "i" for "j" (later, somewhat interchangeably, and at times seemingly entirely randomly.) That's probably not a bad thing -- imagine boarding an airplane at the terminal by walking down the ietuuay* (jetway) and trying to discern the pronunciation of the former word as a non-native speaker.

The backwards "N" is a good reminder of just how anthropologically "young" our human written languages are, and it also sheds much light on the state of literacy as we emerged from the Dark Ages.

The number of dies needed must have been extensive -- even striking the good fineness silver from Kutna Hora -- so a die engraver need not be able to read, or write, as long as he could draw and engrave the lines and squiggles that were being asked of him. Even if the die-cutter was literate in one language, there were so many languages mixing together, and so much trade and migration, that it was entirely possible he was cutting dies in a language that was not his own, or even copying coins which had inscriptions in other languages, just like we see with barbarous imitations of Roman coins and their funky letters/odd legends.

Additionally, if the die-cutter was learning to read and write, if the person to whom he was apprenticed had learned to write his "N" backwards, then so would our dutiful apprentice have done, and passed that down the line to his apprentices.

For a slightly off-topic aspect, there has been a good bit of research done as to why children learning to write often reverse their letters "N" and "R" on paper, even when reading from a "correct" text. This sort of research has provided us with a wealth of knowledge about how our brains acquire reading and writing skills and the extent to which the areas of the brain responsible for processing the signals from our eyes (vision) may be one part of the multi-layered neurological puzzle that creates learning and motor skills challenges such as dyslexia and dysgraphia.
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Specializing in 1932-1964 Washington quarters

"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." -- Louis D. Brandeis
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