Friedrich d'Or

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The Friedrich d’Or is an obscure type of Prussian gold coin equivalent to five silver Prussian Reichsthalers. The Friedrich d’Or coins are just one of a number of Prussian gold coins so named after the current ruler or past ruler as depicted in the obverse busts of the coin. Originally issued from 1741 until 1855, the Friedrich d’Or, named after Frederick II of Prussia was originally based on another Prussian coin bearing a royal moniker – the Wilhelm d’Or. Its predecessor, originally named after the monarch who commissioned its mintage, Freidrich Wilhelm I, was created in circa 1715 until the end of Freidrich Wilhelm’s reign in the 1740s, where the coin was later referred to as the Friedrich d’Or.[1] Made specifically for the purpose of payment for large transactions, as well as for investment and stock-bond purposes, the gold Friedrich d’Or coins were not general currency in Prussia, which, by the time of the coin’s mintage, strictly followed the silver standard of currency. The Friedrich d’Or was a standard issue currency that served two very distinct purposes: firstly, it functioned as a trade coin that allowed for easier trade between Prussia and other nations which observed the gold standard in lieu of the silver; along with this, it also became possible to pay large transactions without the need for shipping numerous amounts of silver coinage. Secondly, the Friedrich d’Or served as a type of early bullion coin that was used in the stock exchange market as well as with any sizable financial transaction. With the unique feature of being able to be sold at a premium price for an equivalent of five Reichsthalers, it was the perfect medium for investment and private exchange. Due to their unique purpose, not many Friedrich d’Ors were minted, despite it being standard currency, regardless of the number of varying issues after each consecutive monarch after the first one. Because of this, examples of Friedrich d’Ors nowadays are highly prized by numismatist collectors, and rarely do they get into the hands of equally discerning bullion investors. Owing to its unique use for investments and trade, the Friedrich d’Or was at one time also used as a standard of purity for other coinages minted in Prussia.

Made of 21 carat (.903 fine) gold and weighing approximately 6.032g (depending on the date of mintage and the reigning monarch who commissioned the mintage), it was a constantly mutating coin that changed with the rulers that sat upon the dais of Prussia.[2] Originally patterned after gold coins of other countries such as the French Louis d’Or and the Spanish doubloon, the Friedrich d’Or was at one time even classified as a variant of the pistole, a gold coin of Portuguese origin.

Despite its constantly re-minted status, the Friedrich d’Or coins did retain a somewhat uniform aesthetics when it came to the symbolism of the coins, with the obverse depicting the then ruling monarch, and the reverse bearing a variation of a Germanic heraldic eagle in the style of Durer holding or standing upon one object or other depending upon the whim of the monarch who issued the coinage. The Friedrich d’Ors that were continued by Frederick II’s successors took on a variety of different face values, as well as revaluations, so that a number of Friedrich d’Ors were made available (the original, the double, and the half-Friedrich d’Or minted in 1741, 1747, and 1749 respectively[3]) beginning with Frederick II’s original mintage, and followed shortly thereafter by the second until the fourth Frederick William. The production of Friedrich d’Or coins ceased altogether at around 1855, some eight or so years before the end of the reign of Frederick William IV.

The influence of Friedrich d’Or coins are evident in the coinages that followed shortly after Frederick William IV’s reign, which began to be called by the names of the monarchs who were depicted in the coins, or who otherwise commissioned its mintage. Nowadays, examples of Friedrich d’Or coins are extremely rare and valuable.

Friedrich d'Or - References:

[2] Fred Reinfeld: Münzkatalog der bekanntesten Münzen von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. München: Ernst Battenberg Verlag, 1965, o. ISBN (nach Ländern in alphabetischer Reihenfolge geordnet; wichtige Münzen deutscher Länder, z.B. Preußen oder Sachsen, auf den Seiten 60–91)

Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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