Hessian 1/24th Thaler Coin

Artifact Name: Hessian 1/24th Thaler Coin

Creator/Manufacturer: Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel (issuer); Münzmeister [mintmaster] Dietrich Heinrich Fulda [see initials “D.F.” stamped on bottom of reverse] (minter)

Location: Home of Josiah Schmidt, St Charles, Missouri

Material(s): Billon (some silver with a predominating amount of copper or other base metal)

Photographer: Josiah Schmidt

Provenance: Comptoir des Monnaies Anciennes Sarl–Siret (NumisCorner) → Josiah Schmidt

Time Period: 1788

DESCRIPTION: This Hessian 1/24th Thaler coin was a standard circulation currency issued in 1788 during the reign of Landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hessen-Kassel (who ruled Hessen-Kassel from 1785-1821, and who was later elevated to the Prince-Elector of all of Hessen under the name Wilhelm I of Hessen). It features a rampant lion (historically part of Hessian heraldry) on the obverse side, and the lettering “24 EINEN THALER. 1788. D.F.” on the reverse side.

A Hessen-Kassel Thaler was, at the time, equal in value to a North German Thaler. As a Hessen-Kassel Thaler was equal to 24 Gutegroschen, this 1/24th Thaler coin was basically a Gutegroschen. A Gutegroschen could be divided into 12 Pfennigs. Other common coins circulating in Hessen-Kassel during this era were the Albus (worth 1/32 of a Thaler) and the Heller (worth 1/12 of an Albus). The 1/24th Thaler coin pictured above was a rather small denomination–essentially pocket change. In the late 18th century, a single meal from a public house cost about 0.6 Thaler, which means a meal would have cost about 14 of these coins.

This particular specimen was acquired by Josiah Schmidt from NumisCorner, which had given it the catalog number of 54379 in Lot R268, and a coin grade of TB+ (Très Beau, which corresponds to the English “Fine F-12” grade). It has a diameter of about 19 mm, and a weight of about 1.93 grams. It is representative of the divisional currency that our ancestors would have spent and saved on a daily basis in 18th-century Hessen-Kassel.

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