I must admit to a degree of trepidation when contemplating the writing of a general survey of German coins.  In my recently published articles on France I likened the French feudal series to a bottomless pit, which metaphor is something of a misnomer.  French feudal is more like a deep well which has been worked before.  The German series really is a bottomless pit.  No author has produced a corpus to which I can refer to abstract this survey.  I wrote to the numismatic librist Gerhard Schön in Germany to see if there was something I had missed.  Sure enough, the answer came back negatory.  All there is for pre-18th century coins are specialized studies and catalogs of collections which make no pretense to completeness.  This is one of the most complicated fields in numismatics.  Only the coinage of India is more complex, but for that field we at least have Michael Mitchiner's work as a stab at a representative catalog.  For German coins there is no single reference, hence coins are always falling through the cracks, and anyone who does work in early Germany accumulates numbers of coins which are not found in whatever references he or she has managed to scrounge.
     It gets even more complicated than that.  For several hundred years of the early middle ages many of the smaller issuers copied the coins of their more powerful neighbors.  And then the German lands were perhaps the earliest and certainly the most prolific issuers of commemorative coins and medals and it is often impossible to tell which is the coin and which the medal.  Suppose, as a common example, you find a silver version of an 18th century gold coin.  It weighs up as a groschen and has honest wear on it.  It's obviously not a regular issue but just as obviously it was used as such.  It's not in any catalog you can find.  What are you going to call it?
     Finally there is the question of how one might attempt to organize a survey of Germanic coinages.  There are two problems.  First is where to draw the territorial lines.  German writers will typically like to include issues of all those who spoke German, which at certain times will take us deep into Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, the Balkans, etc.  As I am basically following the guidelines of the SCWC I will not do that.  I will more or less stick to the German borders as they existed in the nineteenth century.  This means I will be discussing coins issued in parts of what is now France, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, but will skip all the rest with the exception (always an exception) of the Crusading Orders such as the Teutonic Knights.
     The second organizational question is this: shall I give more weight to dynastic or to regional considerations?  This is a more complicated question than it seems, for though each dynasty started in a particular location, over the centuries many of them tended to acquire bits of territory all over the place, so that one finds rulers who were kings of this, counts of that, dukes of something, princes of something else.  Usually each location would have its own coinage, but sometimes there would be issues covering a number of possessions.  And these relationships changed generation by generation.  Add to that the Free Cities, the Imperial Cities, and the various ecclesiastical issuers, and keep in mind that some princes, secular and churchly, retained a mint right after losing their territories.  It's a noble mess sure enough.
     This is how I'm going to do it.  I'll divide "Germany" geographically into five large, numismatically distinct regions:
1) the north, running from Friesland in the west through Saxony and Prussia on into Pomerania and East Prussia in what is now Poland,
2) the southeast, which is mostly Bavaria,
3) Franconia and Thuringia in the center,
4) Swabia and Burgundy in the southwest, and
5) Alsace-Lorraine (Lotharingia) in the west hard by the French border and now part of that country.  Then I'm going to do my standard chronological survey touching on each of these regions as I go.
     While the Greeks established colonies in Mediterranean Gaul as early as the 7th century BCE the land which is now Germany remained relatively untouched by Hellenic culture.  Celtic tribes migrating from the east appeared in the region a couple of centuries later than in Pannonia and Dacia (now Czechoslovakia and Romania respectively), and the Greek derived coins of the German Celts are correspondingly cruder and more degenerate.  They are also quite a bit rarer than either the Gaulish or the eastern issues, as Germany was at the time the deep barbarous hinterlands, far removed from anywhere civilized.  The "normal" Celtic find from the Rhine region will include Greek coins and eastern derivatives, and usually few or no local products.  The most likely Rhenish type to be seen in the market will be the occasional base gold "rainbow cup" stater, and these are rare and expensive.
     Though the Romans occupied and colonized Gaul they never managed to hold much territory east of the Rhine.  They set up fortified towns at Colonia Agrippina (Cologne) and Treveri (Trier) from which they launched regular slaving expeditions, but that was more or less as far as they went.
     Roman coinage in Germany really only began with the breakaway Emperor Postumus, 259-268 AD.  His earliest coins are from Lyons in France, but shortly after his successful revolt he moved his capital to Cologne, which is to say about as far from Rome as he could get.  There he struck normal Roman style coins in a fine style.  His billon antoniniani are reasonably common, and his other denominations are occasionally available, including the gold and his bronze sestertii and dupondii, which I believe are the last issues of those denominations.
     The coins of the immediate successor Marius are occasionally available, notwithstanding his extremely short reign.  Bronze antoniniani of Victorinus, 268-270, are common and cheap, but the gold is rare.  The same pattern of availability holds for the Tetrici, 270-273, but by then the Gallic Empire was falling apart, Germany being already lost.  With the reunification of the Empire under Aurelian the mint at Cologne was closed.
     In the reign of Diocletian, 284-305, a mint was opened at Treveri.  This mint struck typical post-reform imperial bronzes and silver siliquae for most of the western Emperors through the middle of the fifth century AD.  "PTR" is a fairly common mint for Diocletian through the family of Constantine, but from the last quarter of the 4th century the output shrank dramatically and the later coins are relatively rare.
     Barbarous copies of late Roman coins are fairly common finds in western Germany.  They are in no way distinguishable from their Gaulish counterparts, and are cheap and easy to find.
     The Roman Empire collapsed under pressure from "Germanic hordes."  With the demise of imperial authority in the west the German lands were left to the various Frankish tribes, from among whom eventually emerged the Merovingian kings.  Merovingian coinage initially consisted of gold tremissi and occasional solidi.  Over a few hundred years debasement resulted in the replacement of the gold by the silver denarius or denar.  In my experience Merovingian coins are never offered.
     It should be noted that the large majority of Merovingian coins have been found to the west of the Rhine.  The east remained the hold of "heathen barbarians" who presumably did not strike coins.
     Pepin the Short deposed the last of the Merovingian kings and took the Frankish crown for himself in 751.  He was succeeded by his son, known to us as Charlemagne, in 768.  The Carolingian coinage stands at the start of virtually all national coinages in western Europe, thus I've told the basic story several times already in this series.  Charlemagne made his capital in the Rhenish town which the French call Aix-la-Chapelle and the Germans Aachen.  To these rulers France was the centerpoint of their domain, Germany east of the Rhine being theirs only by conquest.  There is a story of Charlemagne, on campaign in Saxony, executing in one day over 5000 prisoners who turned down his offer of clemency by conversion to Christianity.  Further east the imperial writ was wholly theoretical
     Coins of Pepin, Charlemagne, and Louis (Ludwig) the Pious are known from several German mints, among them Mainz, Aachen, Cassel, Hamburg, Cologne, Regensburg, Trier, Strassburg (mentioned in my French articles as Strasbourg), and Wurzburg.  German mints are rarer than French for these already rare and popular coins.
     Ludwig the Pious divided the empire into kingdoms for each of his three sons, with Germany going to Ludwig II, France to Charles the Bald, and the land between to Lothair I.  The Imperium went by election.  Many mints struck coins for all three of these rulers, as well as frozen types of Louis the Pious and Charlemagne, and all of these are scarce.
     The first Ludwig also established the practice of granting mint rights.  At first this consisted of a mint-farming arrangement wherein a bishop ran the mint, giving the Emperor a share, and using the rest of the income for the upkeep of the monastery.  At first the coins were normal imperial deniers, but by the 10th century the prelates were placing their names on the coins, and later they dispensed with the Imperial devices altogether.  Among the first of the joint imperial-ecclesiastical mints were Corvey, Worms, and Strassburg, which commenced operations in the late 9th and early 10th centuries.
     The five great dukes of Germany (Lorraine or Lotharingia, Swabia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Franconia) saw no reason why the benefits of such a profitable arrangement should accrue only to the church.  Did they not, after all, contribute greatly to the stability of the empire?  Did they not incur expenses?  They too pressed the Emperor for the indulgence of a grant, and by the end of the 10th century they had each obtained his desire.
     These great dukes intrigued and warred with each other for the kingship in Germany, and, with the eclipse of the Carolingians after 911, of the Imperial crown as well.  All of them struck silver denars, usually bearing imperial devices while the Carolingians reigned, and after with the titles of the prince alone.  Their coins were initially of good silver, with weights which had declined from the standard of Charlemagne, but which still allowed for a good sized coin.  Economic circumstances forced a general and continuous debasement through the 12th century, worse in the east than in the west, and this erosion of value was accompanied by a decline in style.
     Dispersion of the mint right continued in the 11th century, and by the middle of the 12th over 50 nobles and prelates had obtained privileges and were coining at over 100 mints.
     At first glance it is pretty difficult to tell the difference between the issues of the various principals of the 11th-12th centuries.  Many are derived from Carolingian prototypes, many have legends blundered or completely unreadable, and many are very badly struck.  All of them tend to be scarce in comparison with later issues.  In fact, if you're looking for affordable and nice looking 10th-11th century Central European coins you're going to be much happier much sooner with something from Poland or Bohemia than with some badly made German piece.  The coins of Metz, Cologne, Mainz, Regensburg, and Salzburg are probably the most common German pieces of the period, but nice, well struck pieces are hard to find.
     German historians like to divide their medieval political history into four periods based on who controlled the Imperium.  Thus we have the Carolingian period 768-918, succeeded by the time when the Houses of Franconia and Saxony (Salians and Ottonians) were contesting for the crown, 918-1137, and finally the Hohenstauffen period, 1137-1254.  After the Hohenstauffens came the Habsburgs, which is a whole other story previously dealt with by me under "Austria.".
     While the dynastic format is convenient for purposes of historical discussion the reality on the ground was one of extensive local control.  In the 10th through 12th centuries the Holy Roman Emperor was the titular arm of Christendom, the Pope being the titular head.  In actual fact the Emperor had to fight it out over everything just like all the other warlords and abbots.  The same was true of France at the time.
     But where the kings of France managed eventually to prevail over their rivals and establish a central monarchy, in Germany no faction retained the upper hand.  Kings, counts, and emperors, as well as abbots, bishops, and archbishops duked it out (sorry) for most of a millennium until Bismark finally put an end to the squabbling just a bit  over a century years ago.
     It's not surprising then that not so many German coins of the period carry imperial references.  You find them in the issues of the "Free Imperial Cities" such as Metz, Strassburg, Cologne, Aachen, Lubeck, and in the coinage of the Emperor's personal possessions.  These Imperial coins are infrequently offered compared to many local issues.
     Though at the time the emperor's money was no better or worse than anyone else's (which is to say than it's intrinsic value), in Germany these coins are thought of as something like the "German National" coinage of the time.  Thus an Imperial coin of the 11th century will typically get a hefty patriotic premium over some less common local issue.  Example, a small hoard of denars of Frederick Barbarossa, 1152-90, was promoted a few years back and sold well at high "two figure" prices while a contemporary episcopal denar of, say Hildesheim, no less scarce, would get no more than $30.00 or so.  It's the romance of the name.
     Actually I think it's fair to say that there are no common German coins of the 11th and early 12th centuries.  If you look around you'll come up with a Cologne pfennig, or a Salzburg, or, most likely by far, a Vienna.  But you won't find many German examples floating around in the market outside Germany.  Too few specimens, no good references, not enough interest.
     In fact, the normal offering of the period is not German at all.  It is French.
     Just about every mint-holding noble or prelate was coining in his own name and at his own convenience.  All kinds of coins were circulating with a wide range of value.  Exchange rates, tariffs, acceptability were all under local control, making for a businessman's nightmare of conflicting statutes which any coin would have to thread its way through.
     At the start of the 11th century the average coin was a good silver piece, reasonably close in weight to the late Carolingian coin.  Debasement proceeded over the next two hundred years, worse on the peripheries then in the center.  Dispersion of the mint right also continued, and by the middle of the 12th century over 50 nobles and prelates had obtained privileges and were coining at over 100 mints.
     Contemporary coins in France represent the widest dispersion of the mint right.  But in Germany feudalism was still in it's infancy.  The German products generally resemble French coins, usually with a better silver content and often with better art work.  Many are derived from Carolingian prototypes, many have legends blundered or completely unreadable, and many are very badly struck.  All of them tend to be scarce in comparison with a couple of centuries later, and the most common are scarcer than many contemporary French issues.
     Regional trends in coinage styles began to emerge in the 12th century.  In the Northwest the Flemish towns were making their denars of good silver but half size.  These the French called mailles, and they served as an obol (half) to the Cologne denar.  Municipal mailles of Ghent, Bruges, etc. are available, and you should be able to find a VF for around $30.  Poorly struck Cologne pfennigs run about the same.  Burgundy was striking French style billon coins, some types common enough to go for $5.00 today.  And throughout the broad expanse of Central Germany the denar/pfennig evolved into that interesting module, the bracteate.
 The weight and purity of the Central German pfennigs had remained higher than at the periphery, so the coins were already relatively large in the 11th century.  Early in the Hohenstauffen period there developed a tendency to strike larger and thinner coins.  The Germans call these, what do you know, "thin pfennigs," and the thinning process continued until they became "halfbracteates" with each design showing through on the other side.
 The typical market offering of a thin pfennig is something from Nuremburg, or Brunswick, or Brandenburg.  It will be high grade, badly struck, and will cost around $40.00.  Your halfbracteate might be from Regensburg or Speyer, will be artistically unsatisfying, and will cost $40.00 or more.  It's an uncommon period.
 As for the true bracteates, they first appeared in the mid-12th century in Thuringia.  Many of the earliest issues were ecclesiastic, but the nobles were not far behind.  Finally at the end of his reign the Emperor Conrad III, 1137-52, had a bracteate struck in his name as king of Germany  The new style became a trend.
     There are two distinct kinds of bracteates.  The first are the large ornate pieces of central Germany.  There is debate about whether or not these were intended as circulating money.  Some of them are thin enough to bend or break under their own weight, and wouldn't have lasted a day in circulation.  You would have had to fold them in quarters.
     Certainly their fragility would tend to discourage trade.  On the other hand their greater surface area permitted a grander artistic conception, enhancing their value as vehicles for propaganda.  Thus some have theorized that they are more in the nature of commemoratives, or receipts for paid taxes, or some such non-monetary function.  They look a lot like contemporary seals, so perhaps there's something to those theories.
     These large bracteates are a market all to themselves.  Naturally, strike is more important than wear, and chipping is a problem.  Ecclesiastics as a group are more common than nobles, and the royals are the scarcest.  A poorly struck "common" piece by, say, the bishop of Meissen, with a bit of a ragged edge will cost more than $50.00 most of the time.  Nice ones go for hundreds.  I think there are probably some bargains in this abstruse field.
     The other kind of bracteate was definitely meant to circulate.  These range from 10-20mm, cut from thicker sheet metal, with simple designs.  They evolved from debased pfennigs on the periphery of the Kingdom.  As the pfennigs shrank they began to be struck uniface, and eventually the evolution continued to the small bracteates.  These are found from the Baltic coast all the way around the eastern borders through Poland and Bohemia and back to Switzerland in the south.  They continued in use until the 15th century, long after the big bracteates were abandoned.
     The generic name for the little bracteates is "hohlpfennig" meaning hollow penny, an apt enough description. Some large hoards of some of these hollow coins have been dispersed into the market over the last 20 years or so.  First one I remember is the coins from Basel by the 14th century prelate Peter von Aspelt.  I've seen it offered from $20.00 to $95.00, so somewhere in there is reasonable.
     Much more common lately have been the municipal issues of Hamburg, Brandenburg, Luneburg, Lowenburg, and a few others.  These started out in the $5.00 range ten years ago.  Now a not so well struck piece should fetch $15.00-20.00 today.  But usually people are asking $30.00.  Too much in my opinion.  For $30.00 you should be able to get a well struck "VF."
     While the minters of northern and central Germany were going crazy over bracteates the west and south continued as usual with their traditional double sided money.  These are fairly small coins for the most part, and many are base.  Of hundreds of types from dozens (and dozens) of issuers the most common market offering has to be the Hand pfennig (Handelsheller) of Halle in Swabia.  The archbishops of Cologne were aggressive minters as well, and their coins are next most common, then Bavarian pfennigs.  In a pile of Vienna pfennigs you might find a couple of Bavarians if you're lucky..
     This period (10th-14th centuries) is probably the one with the least adequate literature.  It was also a time when the habit of copying popular foreign coins was widespread.  These coins circulated heavily and often come worn.  For all these reasons it is often difficult to pin down an attribution, and thus it is a slow moving market.
     This is probably a good thing, for the material as a whole remains much less common than similar stuff from France, and though German prices are higher than French, I think a lot of bargains lurk in the series.
     And someone should really take the bull by the horns and write a catalog.  Perhaps the remnant of the East German SED could sponsor the research and thus finally contribute something of lasting value to German culture.
     By the end of the 12th century neighbors were beginning to adjust the values of their coins to be in convenient ratios to each other.  Thus emerged the concept of multiple denominations.  In the mid-13th century multiple pfennigs started making their appearance here and there.  The first was the double pfennig "kreuzer" of Tirol, followed by the North German "Witten" or white coin, equal to 4 hohlpfennigs or billon "black pennies."
     At the start of the 14th century the central European economy was humming along, and the need for coinage increased.  The Italians were the point men in this boom.  One of their responses to the fiscal problems was the production of high value large silver coins and gold (others were adoption of "arabic" numerals and double entry bookkeeping).
     Like the French, the Germans were always mucking about in Italy, and it didn't take them too long to come out with their versions of these high value coins.  By the middle of the 14th century silver groschens and gold guldens had spread across Germany, the latter struck at dozens of locations in the Empire and the former at hundreds.
     Once again I must sadly report that the most common of these coins is the non-German Pragergroschen of Bohemia.  The typical German large groschen is a weakly struck 15th century Saxon piece costing 3-5 times its equivalent grade of Pragergroschen.  The gold is all rare of course.  You'll find 10 or 20 contemporary Hungarian pieces to any German gulden.
     And along with these flagship coins go the minor values, the half groschens, wittens, kreuzers, pfennigs, and so forth.  14-15th century minors remain relatively scarce compared with contemporary French and English coins.  The exceptions are Tirolean kreuzers, Vienna pfennigs (both Austrian, though the distinction is academic for the period), Hungarian denars. From Germany proper you're most likely to find Handelshellers of course, or something from Hamburg or Cologne or Lubeck.
     In the mid 15th century gold became scarcer in Europe while commerce continued to increase.  The resulting shortage of high value coin led to the appearance of the silver guldengroschen, which in the 16th century spread through Europe and the world as the thaler.  I'll continue there next time.
 My friend Mark Bettinger came back from the ANA show in Orlando and I asked him if he saw many medieval German coins there.  We talked for about 20 minutes and it boiled down to this: "plenty" of thalers and not much else.
     We might ask why this is so and the answer is fairly obvious when we look at the situation in which the thalers arose and the financial position they came to hold.
     The situation I refer to was an anarchy of petty conflicts which made up the Holy Roman Empire of the 15th-16th centuries.  It was some empire.  The Emperor had a hereditary contract with each petty noble, and they were all different.  These so-called vassals actually had the right to make war with each other as long as they didn't go directly against the emperor.  And they did it all the time.  Imagine New Jersey going to war with Delaware under the sanction of the Feds in Washington.
     War is always accompanied by inflation and debasement of the money.  Stupid governments just let it happen, while the smart ones induce it in an attempt to control it.  It never works unless there's a quick and permanent victory, and while some are quick nothing is ever permanent.
     In Germany the conflicts had continued for so long that just about all the coinage was billon, the valuation and usage of which was subject to local control.  Hundreds of mints had their own monetary conventions.  There was no standard.
     Into this raging sea of billon sailed the guldengroschen of Tirol, where they had a little extra silver.  This coin made a good impression.  It was just what people were looking for.  But they never made enough of them, for there really wasn't that much silver to go around.
     Then the Schlicks of Joachimsthal in Bohemia found a big silver mine on their lands and the rest is history.  At the same time that Cortez was doing his business in Mexico quantities of new joachimsthalers began showing up in European trade channels.
     They were an instant hit.  Everyone who had silver got into the thaler manufacturing business.  By the mid-16th century large silver coins were being created from Italy to Sweden and from Poland to England, through Spain to the Americas.
     And the reason they were so popular of course was that they were full weight, high fineness coins, just the thing with which to do business and keep accounts.  Compared with the billons they were REAL money.
     The 15th century Tirolean guldengroschens are rare, but show up with some regularity at auctions.  For the 16th century there are perhaps 10 common thaler types, including several of the various Saxon lines, from Hamburg, Salzburg, Brunwsick, and a few others.  These run-of-the-mill thalers in decent condition run a hundred and something.  Very scarce ones in the same decent condition are often not a whole lot more.
     Messed up thalers are fairly common.  They come with tooled fields, mountmarks, graffiti, etc.  These "yes but" coins often get down into the $75.00 range, occasionally lower.
     The minors are a different story.  First we have to distinguish between the "major minors" or thaler fractions and the "minor minors."  Thaler fractions were "white" coins of good silver.  Quarters were the "common" denomination, halves were scarce, and the 2/3 piece or gulden was added later.  Every thaler fraction is at least, what, say 5-10 times scarcer than its associated thaler.  I can't think of any exceptions.  Almost any half thaler should be worth more than it's thaler.  If you see one cheap go get it.
     Over in Brandenburg and east there are some good silver groschens and schillings of the 16th century which are reasonably easy to find.  These coins show a lot of Polish influence, and of course, when you're looking for 16th century European fine silver coins most of what you find is either Polish or Hungarian rather than German.
     The minor coins of Germany proper were just about all billon "black" money.  These continued in the 16th century as before, which is to say that the mints were under local control and set their standards however they pleased.
     Mintages for the local issues were low compared with the national coinage of the nations bordering Germany.  There are plenty of 16th century Hungarian denars, Lithuanian ½ groschens (shrunk to the size of the original Tirolean kreuzer), Polish 3 groszy, French royal billons and so forth.  And every once in a while you find the most common 16th century German minor, an albus of Cologne.
     As for literature, the thalers are adequately covered in English by Davenport and others.  And there is a reasonable reference for the minors of this period.  It's called "Die Saurmasche Munzsammlung," and covers "from the start of the groschen-time to the kipperperiod," which is to say the 13-17th centuries.  It does not pretend to be complete, but I have found about 95% of the coins I was attributing in it.  Trouble is it's out of print.
     Martin Luther broke with his Church in 1517.  Throughout the 16th century, while Spain was colonizing America, Germans were defecting from the Catholic church.  Spain is important in this story because for most of the 16th century the king of Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor were the same person.  The Emperor's job was to defend Christendom against heresy and infidels, and what was this Reformation stuff if not heresy?  So while as Emperors they (Charles V and Ferdinand I) had a problem, as Kings of Spain they had at least the fiscal wherewithal to attempt to do something about it.
     The "wherewithal" was all the gold and silver they were pulling out of the ground in America.  The "something" by the 17th century amounted to a long, drawn out war.  Like all wars, this one for the reunification of the church cost more than the estimates, and of course it didn't work.  You can't change people's minds by killing them.  And it went on for most of 150 years, the so called "30 Years War" being only one segment of the conflict.
     The American silver came to Europe as cobs.  It was reminted into nice looking Spanish coins which were shipped north and turned into thalers to pay troops.    But all the silver of the Americas was not sufficient to foot the bill.   Other financial tricks were pulled out and tried.  Taxes were raised, governments placed arbitrary values on exchange and the circulating coinage was debased still further.
 These debased war coinages are generically called "kippers" or, if you like, "coppers."  They come from a lot of different places.  A large number of mints started operating during this period.  There were several reasons for this.
     For one, the wars caused a loss of control by all levels of government, and for quite a few local power holders the thought of striking profitable money could not be ignored.  Another aspect was the extinction of some noble houses and the fragmentation of the estate, in which instance mintrights might be split or town mints become autonomous.  Yet another contribution to the burgeoning of the mints was the grant of mintright by the Emperor for conspicuous service.
     At any rate, minor coins of the 17th century are markedly more common than those of preceding centuries.  I can think of lots of them in the market at the moment: Julich, Hanau-Lichtenberg, Hanau-Munzenberg, Cologne, Regensburg, on and on.  Many coins are available in quantities.
     At big shows you see the European dealers with boxes full of 17th century groschens.  Still, however many German coins there are in the mix, there are likely to be more from Hungary, Bohemia, Tirol, Vienna, Poland.  The German coins will be baser and more worn as well.
 And most unfortunately for ease of attribution, Saurma peters out in the 1630s and the reference situation until the start of the 18th century is bad, bad, bad. The Krause publication - SCWC 1601-1700 is about 85% or so for the thalers, but for the minors it's probably more like 25%.
     This is really unfortunate because it's a fascinating period.  While the Imperial coins of silver and gold became more and more standardized, the local issues became more distinct.  They started using copper, countermarking coins, making siege money, making klippe thalers (first for convenience, later as a fashion).  There are famine tokens, big medals, lots of jetons by the Nuremburg coiners, but not a whole lot of gold.
     This was also the time of the famous multiple thalers.  I can't really say these are common, but I can with confidence say I can get one for you.  Any dealer can.  Following the usual market flows you can spend your whole life trying to find some unfortunate copper of Osnabruck while 10 or more Brunswick multiples change hands at auction every year.  The big stuff is easy.  All you have to do is show your money.  The little stuff can be impossible.
     So far space and time have forced me to paint German numismatics in very broad strokes on a very small canvas.  I've had to leave out almost all particulars and have not mentioned numerous important themes which are crucial to an understanding of the series.  I think I can be philosophical about these omissions.  After all, you don't need to know any of this to collect the coins.  They're pretty or ugly as the case may be, potentially covetable objects in any case.
     I think I would be remiss though if I neglected to at least mention one of these untreated aspects, the - numerous local monetary "conventions."
     These were agreements signed between various minting authorities adjusting their coins to some convenient relation and agreeing to accept each others' money.  There were many of these conventions, that of the Hanseatic League in the north being to us Americans perhaps the best known.  The idea of monetary convention survived to the 19th century when it was used as a tool of unification by Prussia.
     I wanted to get that off my chest because we're almost up to the 18th century and I'm going to change my format.  For the 18th century there are excellent comprehensive references.
 In English the various Krause-Mishler Standard Catalogs and in German there is Deutscher Munzkatalog 18. Jahrhundert, by G. Schon.  Schon goes back a few years into the 17th century, but even leaving those aside he lists coins missing in the Standard Catalogs.
    And neither of them list even all the circulation coins, never mind the off metal strikes, double-thicks, splashes, etc. which the unregulated German mintmasters were fond of making.  Silver versions of gold ducats are always turning up (one at a time of course).
     Ferdinand II, 1619-37, had prosecuted the war against the Protestants with a fanatical and heedless vigor.  The result was a depleted treasury and a political loss in the reign of his son, Ferdinand III, 1637-57.  Finding himself, in addition to the civil war, beset on all sides by France, Denmark, and Sweden, the young Ferdinand was compelled to sign the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. This document granted toleration to the Protestant sects and brought the European civil war to a close.  Sweden took part of Pomerania, and France got Alsace.  The independence of Switzerland and the Netherlands was recognized.  And, most importantly for Germany, the sovereignty of the princes was affirmed and strengthened.
     This amounted to a virtual elimination of imperial power in Germany.  From this time on the Hapsburg Emperors concentrated their attention on their personal possessions in Austria and Hungary.  With no paramount power Germany became a field for action by the surrounding nations.  France, Poland, Sweden, and Denmark all intrigued to keep the pot boiling.
     After the death of Ferdinand III there was a 15 month interregnum during which 3 of the electors who were to choose the next emperor held out for the mighty Louis XIV of France.  It was chiefly due to the efforts of the Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia that the crown eventually went to the Hapsburg Leopold I, 1658-1705.  This meant that the Hapsburgs owed Prussia a big one, and the bill was collected in the next century.
     The reigns of Leopold and his successors were a period of more or less continual wars with France.  In the end more territory was lost and the emperor was forced to recognize the elector of Brandenburg as king of Prussia.  In 1714 the Elector of Hannover became king of England, involving yet another foreign power in German affairs.
     By the middle of the 18th century Prussia had attained, by military adventure, sufficient power to rival the Hapsburgs.  Prussian policy was consistently hostile to Austria, and attempted to exclude Austrian influence from Germany while expanding its own.  The Napoleonic period put a stop to this conflict for a few years, but it resumed immediately following his defeat.
     After Napoleon many of the little states were absorbed, leaving 38.  Most of the smaller states wanted to form a unified nation.  But Austria and Prussia queered the plans, each angling for a situation which it could control.  A do-nothing Confederation was formed similar in organization to the ill-fated Central American Republic.
     Prussia at this time was consolidating further and expanding its influence.  In 1818 it abolished local economic privileges within the kingdom and regularized tariffs.  Ten years after it formed a customs union, or Zollverein, with Hesse-Darmstadt.  Several other states liked that idea and formed their own Unions, and eventually 23 states came together in one great Zollverein with Prussia at the head. Austria did not join the Customs Union.  Staying out essentially cut her off from any major influence in Germany.  This marked the beginning of the absolute supremacy of Prussia in the region.
     In the 1850s the Zollverein states adopted a common currency and started acting more like a nation, again following the lead of Prussia.  This process reached a new stage in 1862 with the signing of a commercial treaty between the Union and the government of France.
     That same year king Wilhelm of Prussia, one year on the throne, had a problem.  His legislature had voted down a military appropriation.  Wilhelm vacillated, then went whole hog with the Conservatives and appointed Otto von Bismark to fix things.  Permit me now to leave history and give a parochial American view of the German States coin market.
GERMAN STATES - 18th c. to 1871
     To say that German coins in general have been hot lately is probably a significant understatement.  I think it's fair to say that for at least the last 5 years 90% of the buying pressure in world coins has been from Europe, and from Germany in particular.
     But while Italians have been buying the nice Italian, Swiss Swiss, Spanish Spanish, etc., Germans buy everything.  Many American dealers attempt to cultivate German clients, many of whom are eager to be cultivated.
     The mass profile of German collectors however comes out much the same as the American.  Most hobbyists there (and there are a lot of them) collect current coins out of pocket change.  Next come the Third Reich-Weimar-Kaiserreich collectors.
     Then a much smaller group is seriously interested in pre-unification coinage, and from there the further back you go in time the fewer the collectors until you're back to Charlemagne and everyone knows everyone else.
     Because the collectors define themselves this way one can count on selling a decent post-1871 "States" coin quickly for more money than it's worth while the scarcer pre-unification coins are passed up at relatively lower prices.  And because this is so I'll save the discussion of  post-1871 "States" coins for later.
     There are no real hoards of later German States coins.  In the past decade some handfuls of various high grade billon pieces have come on the market.  But generally speaking, unless you're very well connected or you buy a collection, the States coins come along one at a time.
 90% of the time what you find is from one of five or six common states (Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, Hamburg, etc.)  Some 30-40 coin types turn up over and over, and maybe another 200 or so wander through occasionally.  That leaves what looks like 1000 or more types which I've never personally seen.
     To save a bit of space in the following exegisis I'm asking you to please put up with the following abbreviations: "c." for century, "oat" - for one-at-a-time, the normal availability pattern for States coins, and "pds" - for pretty-darn-scarce.  And there's one general guideline: unless otherwise mentioned all gold is "pds."

 Coinage began with Charlemagne and continued more or less uninterrupted until 1801.  Pretty much all pds except late dates of the copper 12 hellers, and they're reasonably common in low grade.  18th century small silvers are occasional oats, but larger silver and gold doesn't appear.  I've never seen any high grade Aachen material.
 Never seen any.
 The duchy of Anhalt was ruled by an offshoot of the House of Saxony.  Rare bracteates issued 12th century.  Ducal coins of Bernberg issued from the 17th century.  Odd examples of any 16-18th century denomination are occasional oats.  Bear coins are popular and not all that easy to find, thus I feel that the cheap 18th and early 19th century bear coppers are underpriced in the catalog.  Same is true of the Zollverein coinage of 1839-67, not so common.  Gold is rare.
 Difficult or impossible outside of Germany?
 The line emerged at the start of the 17th century.  Same comments as A-Bernburg above, except that A-Cothen coins are at least twice as scarce.
 This is the culmination of the Anhalt line.  19th century thaler denominations are pds.
 Well, I've actually had some coppers, and actually in nice condition.  Oh, never mind.  The coins are all pds, worth every penny you have to pay for them.
 Never had any.
 Charlemagne coined there.  The bishops began striking 10th c. continuing through 1775.  Free City coinage began 16th c.  Augsburg is a popular location and its coinage gets a premium for that reason  All Ausburg money is pds.  I've seen a lot (3 or 4) of the thalers with various types of "problems" such as mount marks, tooled fields, gilding, and the dealers always want an arm and a leg for them anyway.
 The Baden line got started 12th c.  The Baden and Durlach lines separated in the 17th.  They were united in 1771 under a Durlach and remained so until the last of the line was expelled after World War I.  First coins are 14th century hellers.  The output at Baden-Baden was rather modest through the early 18th century, and all coins are scarce.
 The Durlachs struck their first coins in the 16th c., and these are as scarce as their Baden-Baden counterparts.  By the 18th century however the Durlachs had a better economy going, and there are a lot more coins available for us to buy.  They don't really get common until the next century, but you can probably find some if you look while a similar search for Baden-Badens will come up empty.
 What is described in the SCWC as "United Baden Line" is just the Durlachs after they obtained Baden-Baden.  Copper and billon small coins are common and turn up all the time in all grades up to AU for the copper and BU for the billon.  Big silver and gold are expensive, but they're worth it, because they're rare.
 First coins 11th c.  Early medieval coinage is slightly more common than many other mints.  Low grade 18th century coppers do occur, but silver and gold are pds.
 The second most common state after Prussia.  All ages and all values of Bavarian coins are a lot more common than contemporary issues of most other states.  They show up in high grade back into the 17th century. Low grade 18th century thalers are easy to buy (and hard to sell).  There is that large series of commemoratives, some of which are available.  Bavarian gold too is more common, if not necessarily cheaper, than that of it's contemporaries.
 Bentheim had its own coinage from the 14th century.  Rheda in Tecklenburg had a municipal coinage in the 17th century.  Both series are pds, as are the united coins of the 18th century.
 All very scarce, including the low priced coppers.
 First coins were bracteates, pds today.  Later hohlpfennig bracteates from Salzwedel have been available.  In the 16-17th centuries the Brandenburg Margraves were under the cultural and economic influence of Poland at the height of its glory, and its coinage has both a Polish look to it and a Polish type of availability and price structure.  Groschens, half schillings, etc. are common and make up a large part of the coins in the market. B-Ansbach was granted to a Brandenburg younger son in 1603.  The normal range of coins was struck in billon, silver and gold, and all are either oat or pds.
 First coins in the 17th century, line extinct 1769.  Availability as B-Ansbach, but less oat, more pds.
 These are the coins issued by Prussia during the Napoleonic period.  I don't think they're common.
 Hitler's birthplace (to add to the price pressure).  Coins are rare.
 First church coins 9th c., continuing until the Reformation when the archbishop was expelled.  The city coinage dates from the 14th century: wittens and so forth.  It's a somewhat available oat location, which is good because people like the key on the escutcheon.  Silver coins in nice condition (and gold of course) are pds.
 Coppers are scarcish oats, silvers are pds.
 Though still oats, the coins are easier to find in general than most other states.  The three main types: wildman, St. Andrew, and the leaping horse are all very popular, but enough are around to keep prices reasonable.  Even the gold is more common.
 Same comments but more so.  I'd say the 19th century coppers verge on common.
 All pds.
 Of course the Romans coined here, and from that time through the 17th c.Cologne money is among the most frequently found of the coins of Germany proper.  First the archbishops and later the city fathers did good business and supported large issues of trade coinage.  Low grade is the rule, these coins went places. I actually find that 15-17th c. coins are easier than the 18th c. stuff.  That makes sense, as by that time the city's golden age was past.  The Free City issued what I think is the last bracteate hohlpfennig in 1792 (KM-445 and pds).
 Pds, but as with cologne, 16-17th c. material is somewhat more available.
 Never seen one.
 About the same as Constance, no, about 30% better.
 Scarcish oats.
 A very long history as a minor ecclesiastic mint.  All coins pds.
 Coins were struck by the Carolingians.  City coinage began in the 14th c., continuous until 1866, when the city was taken by Prussia. Early coins are not so easy to find.  From the 17th c. the coins become increasingly common.  Kreuzers of the late 18th c. are reasonably available.  So are the early 19th c. coppers and the thalers and double thalers of the 1860s.  The so-called "Jew pfennigs" can also be found.  (Everyone knows these were general use tokens and not an ethnic thing, right?)
Gold coins too are findable.
 One actually does find Fuldan coins on occasion.  The most common are scarce oat coins.
 18th century coppers are occasionally found.  Billons are pds.
 First coins in 11th c.  All coins are pds.
HALLE (in Swabia)
 First coinage in 12th c. .  The medieval "handelshellers" are far more common than any later coinage.  18th c. issues are pds.
 One of the most common locations.  You will find hohlpfennig bracteates of the 13-14th c. through the schillings of the 17th c., all the way up to unification.  Some hoards of 19th c. small billons have come to the market in AU-Unc.  Large silvers are oats.  Gold is pds.
 Several times in the last decade modest hoards of 17th c. groschens in nice grade have come on the market.  Later material is pds.
 City coins of the 14-17th c. are pds.  Served as a mint for Brunswick coinage 18th c. (oat).  19th c. coins are more available and among them are some (late coppers, etc.) which are quite common.  Some high grade pieces have hit the market in recent years.
 Issued rare medallic commemoratives only.
 The Henneberg counts and their successors struck coins over a long period.  The chicken being a popular motif the coins are in demand.  Too bad they're all pds.
 First Hessian coins (pds) in 13th c.  The Hesse line split in 1567.  Late 18-19th c Hesse-Cassel small coins are reasonably available, though low grade is the rule.  Silver coins are oats or pds.
 The Darmstadt line was richer and struck more coins than the Cassel line, so all types are more common.  Hesse-Homburg issues are all pds.
 First church coins 10th c.  First municipal coins in 15th.  Nothing from Hildesheim is common, but you can usually find something within a couple of months of starting your search.
 All the various permutations of this family's coinage are pds.  All were issued as demonstrations of the mint right and circulated only incidentally.
 The Hohenzollern line branched in the 13th century.  The Hechingen and Siegmaringen lines went out of business in 1849.  The other line went on to become the kings of Prussia.  All coins are pds.
 First coins in 17th c.  Pds.
 Location listed in Schon.  Pds.
 First coins in 10th c.  All pds.
 First coins in late 13th c., continuing sporadically until the 17th c.  All the early stuff is pds.  18th c. ¬ stubers are fairly common in low grade (and often corroded).  Silver and gold is all pds.
 All pds.
 All from the Schon catalog.  The first two issued medallic gold.  Lindau was a Free City and issued coins until 1712.  All very pds.
 First coins in 13th c.  A somewhat scarce location.  Most common coins are 19th c. coppers in low grade.
 Pds.  I've had one Rochefort coin in my life.
 Church coinage began in the 12th c. and continued sporadically until 1775.  All pds.  The Free City was an economic powerhouse from the 12th century.  Lubeck hohlpfennig bracteates are among the more common types.  Availability of Lubeck coinage is almost on a par with that of Cologne through the end of the 17th c.  18th c. types are somewhat scarcer.
 First coins struck by Charlemagne.  Ecclesiastic coins continued in an unbroken series to the end of the 18th c.  The archbishops spent some money on their engravers so the artistic level was often high.  Odd examples are not impossible to find, but they're popular and expensive.
 Siege coins of 1793 are available but always come in bad condition.
 First coins are 12th c. bracteates (pds).  All the early stuff is pds.  The line split in 1701.  The 18-19th c. small coins are reasonably available, with high grades not unheard of.  Silver coins are much more difficult, and high grades are pds.  Gold is rare.
 Availability is more or less equivalent to the Schwerin coins, maybe a bit tougher, with not much in high grade..
 First coins are 11th c. (pds).  Coinage remains pds until the 17th c., billons of which period are mere oats.  Many of the 18th c. copper and billon types are available in low grade, with the "Cathedral Coinage" probably most common.  The big stuff is rare.
 First coins in 12th c.  Dynastic history is very involved, with many hyphenated territorial groupings.  Taken as a whole Nassau coins are part of, let us say, the second tier of availability (Prussia and Bavaria being the first).  That is to say there are quite a few oats.
 Or Nuremburg if you will.  First coins in 13th c.  The medieval stuff is pds.  Odd oat coins of 16-18th c. Nuremberg occur with some regularity.  The town is famous for its city view coins and the "lamb of God" type fractional gold.  Examples of both of these popular types are fairly readily available.
 Coinage more or less continuous from the 14th c.  Medieval stuff is pds.  I haven't noticed a whole lot of 18-19th c. material either, and most or all of it was in low grade.
 Episcopal coins from the 9th c. ,  All medieval are pds in my opinion.  The city used an interesting set of countermarks in the 17th c., and these, along with the 18th c. coppers, are oats.
 Coins of the various lines of the Palatinate date from the 10th c.  A few of the 18th c. small coins and thalers are rather scarce oats.  Everything else is pds.
 Before 1701 this was Brandenburg.  Prussian coins in general are by far the most common of the "States" coins.  This is true at all levels from pfennigs through gold.  The money circulated broadly and average grade encountered is low.  This is especially true for the 18th c.  Later 19th c. material is obtainable in top condition. Prussian coins are so common that they used to be hard to sell.  No more.  Now they sell like any other State, which is to say, very well indeed.
 Church coinage from the 10th c., city coinage from the 13th.  Medieval coins through the 18th c. can be found as oats.  The coins are popular.  People like the keys.
 Another Schon entry of the early 18th c., pds of course.
 The Reuss (or "Russian") line got started in the 11th c. with earliest coins in the 12th.  All the early stuff is scarce.  All the rulers of all of the various branches were cutely named Heinrich, and the numbers they bore were not necessarily consecutive.  It's extremely confusing.  Later small coins are oats rather than pds for this line.
 Despite some low catalog values I'd say they're all pds.
 A bit more available than the immediately preceding, but still... pds.
 First city coins in the 14th c.  From the 17th c. the small coins are scarcish oats.  High grades are rare.
 Most of the subsidiary Saxon lines issued coins in moderately large quantities.  The small coins of this one are reasonably common, but the big coins are pds.
 Not as common.
 Availability is midway between the preceding and the one before.
 Small coins of these 18th c. configurations are oats, usually found in low grade.  Larger silvers are pds.
 Availability on a par with Saxe-Eisenach, maybe a bit better.
 Coinage dates from the 17th c.  This is one of the common locations, with later coppers available in high grade.
 Another fairly common location for small coins.  A number of Schön-listed 18th c. gold types are unlisted in the Standard Catalog.
 This short lived line issued a number of KM-unlisted klippe style square thalers in the late 17th and early 18th c., as well as some nice looking gold.  All are rare.
 The dukes of Saxony contributed emperors and kings of Germany in the middle ages.  Many mints were active within their realms, and many types were struck.  The large output has led to a large survival rate.  Saxon coins are among the more commonly found pieces of the 12-15th c.  The good availability hold ups through the 17-18th c.  Large silver of this period is, with Bavarian and Prussian types, among the most common of the States.  19th c. small coins are common.  Considering their value, the large silver and gold are too.
 Coins of the former are all pds.  The latter county was erected in 1623 and was eliminated in 1715.  Two rare coins are listed by Schon.
 Earliest coins of Schaumberg proper date from the 16th c.  The county was divided in 1640.  The Hessian government granted its portion copper pfennigs from 1769 to 1832.  Because of the unusual escutcheon the coins are popular.  But they are oats, and usually low grade.
 The Lippes took some pride in their part of Schaumburg and struck a full range of coins from pfennig to gold.  Small coins are oats.  Large coins are pds.
 The Holsteins were established as a powerful line of counts in the 12th c.  The first wittens were made within their realm.  The duchy of Schleswig lay between the Holstein lands and Denmark, and was for centuries contested by its two larger neighbors.  Currently Germany is the victor.  We should probably call the place Holstein-Schleswig.  Basically I think that all the Holstein-Schleswig groupings are scarce.  I've had a few, low grade and hard to sell because of that.  But only a few.
 The Schwarzburgs go back to the 8th c.  They struck bracteates in the 12th, and the normal range of coins through the ages.  All the early stuff is pds.  In 1552 the line formed three branches: Arnstadt, Rudolstadt, and Sonderhausen.  All sruck coins.  Arnstadt went extinct in 1716, and all coins are rare.  Rudolstadt is much more available but still not that common.  Sonderhausen coins are the same except for the last copper small coins.  These are oats and can be found in high grade.
 Second is the Bavarian city listed in Schon.  Both Pds.
 Most of this territory is now in Poland and Czechoslovakia.  The Habsburgs struck there until 1740, then the Prussians.  I have noticed a steady stream of Habsburg small coins wandering through my inventory, all low grade.  Prussian coins are scarcer and usually look worse.  Big coins are pds.
 Schon lists earlier Wurttemberg type coins for this place, which he calls Wurttemberg-Oels-Bernstadt.  All pds.
 Latter has coppers listed in Schon.  All Pds.
 The Solms date from the 12th c.  Their mint right was granted in the 16th.  17th c. small coins of Solms-Lich are around.  The 18th c. Laubach coins are all rare and have the look of "pieces de plaisir" for petty nobles.
 Issued church and city coins from the 11-18th c, all pds.
 Struck just a few rare types in 1705 and 1717.
 The counts got started in the 13th c.  Stolberg had silver mines, so output was good from the early bracteates through the thalers and on into the 19th c.  The stag motif seems to strike some deep emotional chord in many people.  The coins are intensely popular.  I believe it's this factor, rather than scarcity, which accounts for their relatively higher catalog prices.
 Coins since the 13th c., all pds.
 Charlemagne struck there.  Early medieval church coins are not totally impossible.  Some 15-16th c. municipal issues are fairly common.  Later coins are rather scarce.  The city is now in France.
 Schon has pictures of a few rare and beautiful gold klippes.
 Money was struck in this town from the 10th c.  There are a lot of types.  I've had a few of the petermengers, even a few in high  (VF) grade.  I still think they're all pds.
 Earliest coins of the Waldeck counts are 13th c. bracteates.  The line meandered through several territorial configurations.  Pyrmont united with Waldeck in 1625.  I know there are a few 19th c. coins with low catalog values, but my feeling is that they're all pds.
 Schon lists four rare coins of this abbey dated 1705 and 1717.
 Double plus pds.
 Everything relating to Napoleon is popular and this imperial concoction fits the pattern.  Many of the coins are quite available, but grades tend to be abysmal.
 The Wieds got started in the 11th c. but seem to have struck very few coins until the 18th c.  The line split in 1698 into the Neuwied and Runkel branches.  Both coined in the 18th c.  I think all the coins are pds.
 The second is represented in Schon by rare gold, the third by 3 rare commemoratives.  Pds.
 One of the commoner states more or less on a par with Bavaria.  Some late small coins in Unc are running around.
 Actually Schon lists for the 18th c. W-Moempelgard, W-Oels-Bernstadt (KM = Silesia-Oels), and W-O-Juliusburg.  I think this K-M designation is Schön's W-O-J, though the listings are different.  All pds.
 The bishops struck coins from the 11th c.  You have a decent chance of finding a medieval coin.  17-18th c coins are oats rather than pds, though the grade usually leaves a lot to be desired.

     At the beginning of the 19th century Prussia and Austria were the two dominant German states.  Prussia's constant project was to kick the Habsburgs out of Germany proper and to unify Germany under Prussian administration.
     Most of the preliminary work of unification was accomplished through annexation.  By the 1860s Prussia had acquired some two thirds of the territory of modern Germany.  The remaining states were reduced to sitting around waiting to see what Prussia would do next.
     In 1862 a conflict over military funding arose between the Prussian War Ministry and the Diet.  The king got involved and it looked for a while as if he might abdicate.  Instead he threw caution to the winds and called Otto von Bismarck to head the government.
     In 9 years Bismarck brought about unification in Germany.  His primary method was skillful use of the army.  He was a great man whose imprint is all over German culture.  1998 is the centennial of his death.  Look for a coin.
     The numismatic arrangements in the Imperium called for a national currency and minor coinage.  Large silver and gold were reserved to the states, and 25 of them eventually made use of the privilege.
     The Imperial or Kaiserreich series has become intensely popular these last couple of years.  Ten years ago you could still find unsearched lots of lower grade pieces.  No longer.  Every decent Kaiserreich coin now has been looked at by someone else.  It is just like USA coins.
     Prices for high grade and key material have outstripped the SCWC listings for a many years now.  There are plenty of dealers who make a big chunk of their money buying German here and selling it there.  Buy at 70% of catalog, sell at 130%.  Not too shabby.  I know.  I've done some of it myself.
     My guide to the Kaiserreich coins is simple and straightforward.  Use the SCWC for relative rarity.  Use European "high standard" grading (our AU is their XF, our XF is their VF, if you can't see anything on the little shield on the eagle it's VG at best).  Add 30% to the price in XF or higher, 50% for Unc.  Anything over $100 should go in a German auction.  Anything in VG or better is worth at least 25¢.  There, now you know what your Kaiserreich coins are really worth.
     Exceptions and notes.  There are quantities of late marks and half marks in Unc.  Dates are generally 1914 and '15 for the marks, 1917 and '18 for the halves, usually "A" mint, hardly ever "J."  These can often be found for less than SCWC prices.  Wartime zinc and iron coins are extremely rare in gem Unc.  I think there is no date for which the "A" mint is not the most common by far.
     On to the States.  Everybody wants these, and high grades just fly right away.  Unfortunately for Jane Q. Collector many of these coins are so rare as to be practically unobtainable.
     There are 169 silver types and 125 gold issued by 22 princely holdings and 3 free cities.  Of the silver probably 20 types are power coins, the kind that cost too much and all you can do is go "Ooooh."  Probably 20 more are never seen.  Most were issued to circulation, and are more often than not seen circulated.
     Many of the gold coins are power items if not very rare.  For some reason the gold series is plagued with high quality fakes of numerous types, mostly Prussian.
     Proofs were made of more or less all dates by all mints.  You see them occasionally.  They're all scarce to rare.
 All scarce and rare
 Most of the silver types are easy enough to find, usually circulated.  Gold is pds.
 Third most common state after Prussia and Württemberg.  Even the gold is more available.
 The silver is about as common as Bavaria.  Gold is pds.
 Pds.  There are two low catalog pieces, the 1904 2 mark and the 1910 3 mark, but they're pds too.
 Only struck 2 coins, both pds.
 These are popular coins.  Despite some low prices in the catalog, all pds.
 Pds (both of them).
 Ah yes.  9 out of 10 pieces are Prussian.  Early issues can be tough, especially in nice grade.  Late issues, especially the commemoratives, are plentiful in AU and easily available in Unc.  These had been common enough to trade at big discounts a few years ago, but now their prices are fully inflated.
 Both very pds.
 Despite some cheap listings, demand has made them all pds.
 A lot of fairly common coins and one doozy (Reformation 3 mark).
 Both silver and gold are of equal availability with Bavarian coins, excluding a few outstanding rarities.

     The major numismatic product of the First World War was notgeld.  The dislocations of the time caused local shortages of small change which were made up by these local emergency issues. Notgeld was issued from 1914 to 1923.  There are several hundred metal types, several thousand in paper, and an odd smattering made of exotic materials like coal and leather. Like all German material these are much less common than they used to be, but there are a lot of very common notgeld and an average circulated piece will still go for $2-3 after all these years.
 The iron military coins of 1916 are fairly easy to find in rusty fine or so.  I've never seen a perfect specimen, and I've never talked to anyone who had ever seen a proof.
     There is also a large series of prison camp tokens.  Collectors of these have recently been blessed by Lance Campbell's wonderful reference.  Some of these tokens are quite reasonable (though the Austrian versions are, as usual, more reasonable).
     By 1918 the war was lost.  The Imperial government collapsed and the Kaiser fled the country.  A Republic was established to preside over the mess.
     The first coins of the new government were new dates of the old Imperial types.  There is the iron 5 pfennig, 10 pfennig types in iron and zinc, and the 1919 « mark.  The former are common enough as circulated types, but the silver coin is a lot scarcer than the catalogs indicate.
     Also in 1919 the Republic began issue of the aluminum 50 pfennig series using the sheaf of wheat motif which was to become a Weimar standard.  These coins are common enough that most will trade below catalog in Unc.  They are among the few "Deutsches Reich" coins which can still be located in quantity.
     The next coins were the aluminum inflation marks of 1922-23.  These pieces, denominated 3, 200, and 500 marks, all have rare mints, but the common ones are very common, still turning up in junk boxes with some regularity.
     At the end of 1923 a high value mark was forced on the public.  Everyone's capital disappeared, never to return.  This of course created a deep well of discontent which Hitler found himself able to use a few years later.
     The new denomination was called the rentenmark (indicating its profitability in use) and was backed by gold.  Renten coins were issued in 1923-24, though a few rare mules exist for 1925 and '29.  Acquisition is not difficult by type, but top grades are elusive.
     The tough type is the 50 rentenpfennig.  This is not merely due to its inherent moderate scarcity, but also because it must stand duty in less well funded collections as a place holder for the practically unobtainable 50 reichspfennig which succeeded it.
     Rentenmunzen was replaced by Reichsmunzen starting in 1924.  The minor reichsmunzen types continued several years into the Nazi period.  These coins are still found in junk boxes and often fill up several pages of dealers' browse-books.  For each minor type there is at least one date which is much more common than the rest.  AU types are easy.  Gem uncirculated types can be found.
 Silver coinage began in 1924 with 1 and 3 mark pieces.  The marks are common enough in low grade, but the 3s are tough in any grade.  Uncs of either are scarce.
     The first "plain eagle" mark was replaced with the "eagle with legend" design in 1925, and a 2 mark was added to the circulation.  The 2 is scarcer than the 1, but neither is too hard to find in grades up to XF-AU.  Choice Uncs are scarce.
     In 1927 the nickel 50 pfennig was introduced.  This type persisted until 1938.  It has some very common dates, but not as common as the SCWC indicates.  I've never heard of anyone selling them for 25 or 50¢.  If I get one with such a catalog price I mark it up to $2.00 and sell it right away.
 A similar eagle was used on the obverse of the oaktree 5 mark, also introduced in 1927.  These are not particularly common, and when they do appear their condition is usually unsatisfying.
     Then in 1931 a regular issue 3 mark was introduced.  These are scarce in circulated, rare in Unc.
     Now what about those Weimar commemoratives?  Are they really such a popular series, such a good deal, a great investment? Well, you have to admit it's a handsome, interesting series, worthy, I think, of a somewhat detailed discussion.  And the short answer to the rhetorical questions posed above is "yes," but of course there are some caveats.
     The most important "yes-but" is that for investment purposes the coins really have to be perfect.  I mean perfect under a 20x lens.  Don't bother with MS-59 for this series.  Your investment coins have to be no-question-about-it perfect.  These will be, to say the least, hard to find.
     The next caveat is that investors should concentrate on perfect 5 marks rather than 3s, while the budget minded collector should go for the 3s.  Availability differential between the 3s and the 5s are impressive, typically on the order of 5 or 10 to 1.  Next time you go to a medium sized or larger show look around for these coins.  You'll find lots (relatively speaking) of XF-AU 3 marks, maybe 1 or 2 5s.
     Last caveat is that for each type struck at more than one place there is one overwhelmingly common mint, usually "A."  The other mints, with a few exceptions (e.g. Zeppelin 3 marks), range from very tough to killer.
 Let's breeze quickly through the types.
RHINELAND - "common" 3m, commonest 5m (but that's not saying much).
LUBECK - 3m only, and pds.
BREMERHAVEN - both the 3 and the 5m are scarce to begin with, and the ship motif increases the purchase pressure.  Tough coins, and gems are pretty much auction-only items.
NORDHAUSEN, MARBURG - Reasonably available scarce coins.
TUBINGEN - The portrait on these coins is overwhelmingly evocative of the 17th century, and it's always showing up in the photo section of big auction catalogs.  They are premium coins.  You'll never find a cheap low grade example.
NAUMBURG - Scarce coin rarely seen better than AU+.
DURER - My analysis similar to Tubingen above.  This coin perhaps generates a bit less excitement when it appears but it's just as scarce.
DINKELSBUHL - A rare coin, seldom seen.
LESSING - Circulated examples of these are about as common as the Rhineland coins, and not quite as popular.  Scarce in Unc.
CONSTITUTION - One of the commonest of the Weimar commemoratives, and most likely to be found in Unc.
MEISSEN - The 3 mark is not particularly common and the 5 mark is scarce.  Both are rare in Unc.
ZEPPELIN - 3 marks are very common in XF.  5 marks can be found (in Germany, most likely).  Most Uncs are soft.
VON DER VOGELWEIDE - Circulated examples are common.
RHINELAND - Fairly common in circulated.
MAGDEBURG, VON STEIN - Both are tough.
GOETHE - 3 marks are scarce.  5 marks are the keys to the series.  Investors: buy these coins in proof!

    Someone dealing heavily in modern German coins told me recently that over there they estimate that one in 5 people is going through their pocket change to complete their booklets and a lot of them will go on into a coin shop and buy something fairly regularly.
     This growth of the collector base has been going on for decades.  I don't know about the numbers but I can testify that even here across the ocean the buying pressure is sensible.  I have no idea why it is so.  But it is.  My numerous German clients have been strong buyers of my high end material and I strive always to make them happy.

     Nazi coins seem to be a lot more popular with American collectors than with Germans.  I have worked with several Americans to complete type sets (they always stop before they get to the Schiller 5m).  For a long time I held a belief that Germans just did not buy them.  Then finally this year (1994) I sent one (a "good" one) across the Atlantic.  So now I can't say that.
     I won't go into the history of the Nazi seizure of power (though some might care to disagree with the word "seizure" citing the various elections up to 1936).  Nor will I discuss the various sad and disgusting things they did.  i'm just going to deal with the coins.
     The first Nazi issues were the commemoratives for the 450th birthday of Martin Luther.  The coins were only a trifle lighter than the Weimar coins, but the silver content was higher too so they are smaller.
     Luther 2 marks of the Berlin mint are not too hard to find in VF or so.  The other mints are much harder, and Uncs are very difficult indeed.  The 5m Luthers are tough in any grade from any mint.
     Next they issued the nickel 1 mark, a series which endured until the start of the war.  A few date-mint combinations are fairly easy to find in circulated conditions, but this type will never be found for 50 as noted in the SCWC.  $2-3 is a minimum for this coin.
     Next, in 1934, came the Potsdam coins with the date of Hitler's accession to the chancellery.  These are the first German coins with swastikas (though of course they were using the symbol in India 2000 years ago.)  Both 2m and 5m of this type are not too hard to find, as long as you're willing to be satisfied with something circulated.
     That same year they also issued a Potsdam church 5m without the date.  These continued through 1935.  They are much more common than the "Marz" coins, and you'll often find a few in the batches of circulated 5m that dealers like to bat around.  Availability is good up to AU, and true Uncs turn up too.
     The last 1934 coins were the Schiller commemoratives.  The 2m can be obtained.  The 5m is the showpiece of the Nazi series.  It is rare (though not the rarest) and shows up only infrequently in fancy auctions.
     1935 saw the start of the 2 year run of Hindenburg-no swastika 5m.  These too are common and make up the bulk of the large volume of circulated 5m coins in the market.  $4.00 is an average wholesale price for these in F-aXF.  Soft AU is the normal high grade.  Gems are tough.
     Also in 1935 they issued the first Nazi aluminum 50p type.  These are fairly common in circulated, but once again gems are elusive.
     Finally in 1936 the coinage was completely Nazified.  Swastika types were introduced for all denominations from 1p to 5m.  All of the pre-war types have some common dates, and as the prices have steadily escalated over the years batches of nice Uncs have started to appear.  Some recent appearances of quantity Uncs: 1p 1938-A, '39-A, 2p '38-A, '38-D, '38-F, 5p 1937-A.  In addition there are several dates of 2m which often show up Unc.
     The tough type is the nickel swastika 50p.  It is hard to find these for under $10.00.  They are usually XF or better, but I've seen a lot with a little tiny pit or two.
     During the war they cut out all the nonsense with silver coins.  Everything was switched to junky zinc, save the 50p struck in junky aluminum.  Most dates of these coins are pretty common, though the lowest grade pieces will usually get 50¢ or more.  The days of 10¢ swastica coins are over.  And, as everyone knows, the zinc coins usually come with oxide spots.  Unspotted XF is a scarce grade for these, and bright Uncs are (I don't mind saying it) rare.
     The true keys to the Nazi series are those zinc coins with center holes.  These were struck for use in the occupied territories.  All anyone ever sees of these types are 1940-A coins in XF - with or without spots.  I've heard tell of no other mint or date, nor any bright Uncs.  At least I've seen the Schiller 5m offered.  Thus my assertion that these are the keys.
     Another class of things I've never seen are Nazi proofs.  I've seen pictures of them, so I know they're around.  But I've never held one in my hand, nor gazed upon it in the case.
     Off hand and in general, I'd say tht Nazi coins run 20-50% ahead of SCWC prices.
     Germany as a whole was a mess at the close of the war.  Local conditions varied from tattered-but-intact to totally destroyed.  At the top were the occupying armies of the Allies.
 The economy reflected the chaotic conditions.  Barter was the standard mode.  The Allied government allowed continuation in circulation of the old Nazi money.  Some regional paper issues were briefly permitted.  For themselves they printed the well known Allied Military Currency notes.
     In late 1945 the Allied authorities permitted the issue of "de-Nazified" versions of the current zinc coins.  These coins seem to me to be more in the nature of propaganda or demonstration of mint right than an attempt to accomodate the needs of local petty commerce.
     At any rate it's basically a scarce series.  The first version of the 1p was made from a 1944 die with the swastica machined out.  This of course is basically a pattern.  I can't remember seeing one, but they must be around, right?
     The rest of the series has the redesigned eagle and is moderately scarce.  Average grade is XF, with or without spots.  Uncs are rare.  They don't come in low grade.  The rare dates and mints are very rare.  Maybe never seen.
     By 1948 the joint Allied government had separated into Western and Soviet zones, each with its own government and money.  The first coins on both sides were issued before the establishment of their governments.
     In the Soviet zone the minor coinage began and remained aluminum.  There were evidently plenty of coin collectors in the Democratic Republic, but they did not aspire to perfection and uncirculated circulation coins are pretty hard to find.
     The whole series, including the commemoratives, is commercially available.  Since unification prices have boomed, then retreated, and are stable at an average subtantially above the SCWC quotes.  In Germany you can get quotes for complete date sets of minors (except of course the 1949 50p), but the early minors in Unc are sky high.
     As for the copper-nickel and silver coins, commemorative or not, they too are all available.  A small handful (20th anniversary 5m, Meissen 5m, Buchenwald 5m, Youth Fest 10m, Thalmann 20m) are relatively common and cheap over here.  The rest are expensive.  SCWC prices at the moment tend to reflect wholesale rather than retail realities.
     DDR proofs look to me like investment items.  I see growth potential.  I have the same feeling about both proof and mint sets.  They're not around, I want them, therefore, per se, they're desirable, right?
     The Bank Deutscher Lander types are highly desirable in BU and gems are hard to find in this country.  The 1950-G 50p is not just hard to find, it is very rare.
     A large part of any BRD bulk lot is dated 1950.  Uncs of that date are not hard to find.  Coins of the later '50s and early '60s are fairly scarce, with highly inflated prices for gems. From the '70s on most coins are common, though probably not more than two USA dealers try to maintain a BU minor date stock.  You may have to go to to Germany.  There you will find that there are numerous semi-keys.  I suggest it's time to look at the German trends to educate the anglophones on what's hot and what's not.
     And the latest twist in the minors is of course the new BRD production from the Berlin mint.  These coins seem to be snapped up by collectors and hoarders, so that in spite of huge mintages they are scarce both in circulation and in the hobby.
     Everyone knows all about the BRD commemoratives, right?  They are all available.  The first five have been great investments, and probably still are.  The rest of the DM5 coins rise and fall in cycles like any other commodity.  I've always found them a safe bet to buy at the right price.
     The DM10 coins are also readily available.  The 1972 Olympics are common as singles (sets are scarce).  The later issues are also common, but tend to retail about 25% higher than the current SCWC quotes.
     Mint sets and proof sets are not big business in the USA.  Not so surprising, now that I think about it.  BRD in general is not so big here.  This is strange, because people are making pots of money over there dealing in BRD.  But look around.  How many BRD proof sets have you seen (let alone DDR!)?  I think it's safe to say that they are significantly undervalued in SCWC.
    This was written in 1994.  Since then the German mints have been producing coins pretty much for collectors only.  This is because of the coming euro.  Their attitude is "who cares?"  From 1995 on the coins are scarcer and scarcer, more and more expensive.  Decadent end of an era.  They're still making coins in all the other euro countries.  Al we can do is watch it happen.
     These insignificant coins were part of a halfhearted attempt by the French government to hold on to the territory.  In 1955 the Saarlanders voted to join the BRD.  The coins are all easily available, 100 franken a bit scarce in Unc.
 Let us end this brief sketch of German coinage with an even briefer characterization of German tokens and medals.
 Of course the German lands have always been the most prolifc producers of all kinds of exonumia.  Germany abounds in off-metal strikes, proofs, patterns, medals, tokens, jetons, you name it.  Minting quality is often state of the art for period.  Much of it is beautiful.  Material is available at all price levels.  It is a field in which one can quickly lose oneself, never to return to normal