Method of identification


The thalers of Archduke Ferdinand II minted in Hall after 1577 follow a fairly uniform pattern. On the obverse the bust of the archduke is shown in side-view as looking to the right. The figure wears an ornamented armour, holds a sceptre in the right hand and a mound in the left hand. On the reverse a crowned coat of the arms is surrounded by ivy-type ornament (order chain). On both sides circumscriptions with abbreviated description of Ferdinand’s titles are separated by various symbols. A unique feature of these thalers is that they do not wear any date.

In spite of this seemingly monotonous appearance a surprisingly large number of variants of such thalers exist. A concise and consequent identification method of these varieties is described below.

The thalers in question are divided into two main groups by a very distinctive character: the head of Archduke Ferdinand is portrayed in two versions representing a younger and an elder man, respectively, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Younger and elder head of Archduke Ferdinand on thalers

The primary identifier within each group is the type and ornamenting of the armour worn by the figure. The collection of the existing armour-types is listed in the next entries on the Instant Identifiers. A typical example is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: An example of the armour as the primary identifier

Primary identification is denoted by integer numbers from 1 to 61 in increasing order. Numbering is performed for the younger and elder head variants consecutively. Among the pieces with identical primary identifier (armour pattern) there may be specimen having different circumscriptions at the obverse and/or the reverse sides. Circumscriptions serve as secondary identifiers; the corresponding identification is denoted by lower case letters. Circumscriptions are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Circumscriptions

Circumscriptions have two constituents: the text and the separator symbols. Both constituents have abundant varieties.

Thus a typical identifier has the form as e.g. 10.c, denoting the 10th armour type and the third circumscription type therein. Note that in previous publications elements others than these two have also been used for identification of some of the Hall thalers. Such elements are e.g. the flower on the sceptre or the type of the tower within the coat of arms on the reverse. This, however, is unnecessary, the two identifier characters (together with the age of the face) uniquely determine the coin type.

Since for the natural attrition of the minting cylinders most types of thalers were struck with several dies, there are minor (or sometimes larger) differences among variants with the same primary and secondary identifiers but struck by different dies. The numbers of such variants are given along with the identification in the catalogue; the actual differences may be seen e.g. in the listing by Tursky [5 through 9]. A possible means of identifying such minor differences is to compare the crossing points of the upper and lower ends of the sceptre, of the elbow, and of the mound with the texts in the circumscription as demonstrated in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Auxiliary identification points

Figure 5 illustrates the differences between such die variants.

Figure 5: Variants with identical primary and secondary identifiers