The German Mark: a gold coin steeped in history.

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The German mark, created in 1873, is a coin with multiple facets. Closely linked to the political history of Germany, this often forgotten coin nevertheless has many other benefits.

The German Mark origins.

In 1861, after the years of the Napoleonic Wars, Wilhelm I accedes to the throne of Prussia, which at the time dominated the German Confederation. Prussia had annexed several German States, namely Hanover. In the war opposing Prussia and France, all the German States offered their armies under Prussian command. After the victory of Prussia over France in 1870, the German States were united under the same policy: the Second German Empire. The King of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor, or “Kaiser”. From 1873, a new currency, the Reichsmark, was introduced in all the member states of the Empire: 54 kingdoms, 6 Grand-Duchies, 5 duchies, 7 principalities and 3 free towns.

Each independent German State struck its own gold Reichsmarks.

The Deutsche Marks struck by Prussia are the most common: on them one can see the bust of the Emperor Wilhelm II in the uniform of a cavalry officer, with the inscription “DEUTSCHER KAISER KONIG VON PREUSSEN” (German Emperor, King of Prussia). Among the most common gold coins of 20 Marks, one can also find coins struck by Bavaria, the city of Hamburg, Wurttemberg, Baden and Saxony. Each coin includes a letter representing the issuing Mint: A: Berlin; B: Hanover; C: Frankfurt; D: München; E: Dresden; F: Stuttgart; G: Karlsruhe; H: Darmstadt; J: Hamburg.

The war of 1914 marked the end of German gold coins, and the German defeat of 1918, which caused the abdication of the Emperor Wilhelm II, was followed by the proclamation of the Republic.

List of heads shown on the listed gold coins of gold German Marks

  • – Prussia: Wilhelm I, Frederic III, Wilhelm II, Wilhelm II in uniform
  • – Baden: Frederic I
  • – Hamburg: coat of arms
  • – Saxony: George of Saxony
  • – Bavaria: Louis II
  • – Württemberg: Wilhelm II

20 Gold Marks coin: description

On the reverse side of the 20 Gold Marks, one can see an imperial crown, under which an eagle with the collar of the Black Eagle can be seen: this order was the supreme honorary order of the Kingdom of Prussia, founded by Frederic III of Brandenburg in 1701. On the chest of the bird a shield is engraved bearing the arms of Hohenzollern, a European royal family which reigned over Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia from 1525 onwards.
In 1871, the German Empire is proclaimed: the family members added to their titles that of German Emperor which they kept until 1918, when Wilhelm II abdicated. The inscription “DEUTSCHES REICH”, “German Empire”, is shown on all German Marks struck between 1890 and 1914. On the edge of the 20 Mark, one can read “GOTT MIT UNS” (God is with us).
– Weight: 7,9650 grams
– Diameter: 22,5 mm
– Standard of fineness: 900/1000th
– Issued: 1871-1915

The 10 Gold Marks coin.

The obverse and reverse sides are identical to the 20 Marks: showing the eagle and the heads of the Emperors. On the other hand, along the edge of the gold coin, one can see grapes and stars.
– Weight: 3.97 grams
– Diameter: 19.5 mm
– Standard of fineness: 900/1000th
– Issued: 1871-1915

The Gold Mark: interest for the investor.

DenominationGross weightgold titleGold weightDiameter
5 marks1.99g9001.79g gold17.0mm0.6mm
10 marks3.98g9003.58g gold19.5mm0.9mm
20 mark7.96g9007.16g gold22.5mm1.4mm

Although the German coin is not particularly sought-after, the variety in types still makes it attractive: indeed, the German political structure of the pre-war period allowed a great diversity in the coins struck on the same module. One can thus switch from common-place examples to very rare gold coins. At the time, Prussia was the largest and richest of the provinces of the Prussian Empire: the 20 Marks of Prussia in particular remain interesting coins to go after, for their history, as well as for investment purposes.

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