Middle ages

The great Germanic Age of Migration which tolled in the end of the Ancient World and the begin of the Middle Ages led to a great change in the monetary systems. The Roman Empire had a well functioning, homogenous monetary system with gold, silver and copper coinage. In its place came countless rudimentary coinage systems in successor states that were sometimes based on a barter economy.

Brandenburg-Preussen, Brakteat 12. Jahrhundert

Brandenburg-Preussen, Brakteat 12th century

Among these the Realm of the Franks began to gain importance.. Under Charlemagne (768-814) the small Merovingian gold coins that were struck in many mints were replaced by a standard silver coin, called penny or denar.

The pennies (called bracteates) made out of thin silver in the high to late Middle Ages were struck only on one side and of very high relief. In order not to damage these coins, they were kept in capsules made of wood or horn.

"Bistum Metz, Groschen 14. Jahrhundert (Vorder- und Rückseite)"Bistum Metz, Groschen 14. Jahrhundert (Vorder- und Rückseite)

Bistum Metz, Groschen 14th century (front and back)

In the 13th century coinage began to change. Along with the penny other coin types in gold and silver came into circulation. Coin treaties set the exchange rate of coins to the weight of one Mark (approx. 240 g) constantly new. The conferment of coinage rights to local rulers, abbots and bishops often created a rapid deterioration of the coinage. During the medieval economic history, disputes between coin issuing authorities and those governing the coinage laws were a constant topic.

Florenz, Fiorino d’oro 1198-1532 (front and back)

The first gold coins of Florence spread throughout middle and eastern Europe in the 13th century as a gemerally accepted medium of payment. Numerous countries and cities hired Florentine mintmasters and copied the "fiorino d'oro". Following the model of the Florentine florin, Venice minted zecchinos in 1284 which were issued until the end of the 18th century. England and France also minted gold coinage. These were struck on large and thin planchets. They depicted saints, arms and enthroned rulers. All these coins were of high artistic quality, whether in late Romanic, Gothic or Renaissance style.