This is a noncommercial presentation of the remarkable collection of
German coins known as the Saurmasche Münzsammlung.
The coins shown here are NOT FOR SALE. Please do not contact
this website about buying, selling, or appraising coins!
Formed by a 19th century German aristocrat, Hugo, Freiherr von Saurma-Jeltsch, this collection concentrates on the smaller-size, everyday coinage used in Germany and in nearby regions from around 1280 to 1620 AD.
This is a very complex subject! To get an idea of the scope
of the material, take a quick look at the list of coin-issuing
states and mints and at the
maps showing their locations. Also, take
a look at the list of rulers who issued the coins.
These included emperors, kings, dukes, counts, bishops, archbishops,
lords, and abbots from all parts of Germany and nearby areas.
Certain denominations show up repeatedly in the collection -- for example, pfennigs, hellers, kreuzers, groschens, schillings, batzens, half-batzens, and quarter-thalers. But the collection also contains many less familiar denominations listed in this index.
Notably absent from the collection are the large silver thalers and multiple thalers. They have always been great favorites among collectors, so they have been preserved and studied extensively. Excellent catalogs of them are readily available (e.g., Davenport). The Saurmasche Münzsammlung completes the picture by dwelling on the smaller-size coins, which were the backbone of everyday commerce.
Every page on this website starts with a row of buttons that go directly to the site's main entry points. We've already mentioned the set of maps and the indexes of places, people, and denominations. The type index is also very important and contains, among other items, a list of the many patron saints that appear on the coinage. An index of coin sizes is also hidden away in the section on denominations, and an index of coats of arms is currently under construction.
If a coin has a known Saurmasche catalog number, it can be found by clicking on the #s (numbers) symbol at the top of the page. This leads to a set of menus that allow any number to be selected. Note that the catalog uses two parallel sets of numbers: coin numbers (1 to 5933) and illustration numbers (1 to 3171).
Most of the words and images on the website are "clickable", providing a very powerful way to browse through the site. If a coin is not exactly the one being looked for, just click on its state, ruler, denomination or any pictorial feature, and a group of similar coins will be displayed. When an interesting coin is found, click on its picture to get the maximum information available about the coin.
It is also possible to scan through any section of the catalog
in the order it was originally printed, starting, for example,
at the first state page or at the
first ruler page and moving forwards
or backwards by clicking on pointers at the bottom of each page.
The "ruler pages" are smaller and more numerous than the "state
pages", since they contain the coins of just one duke or bishop,
(for example) rather than all of the coins struck in the duchy
or bishopric. Each ruler page includes a scan of the pertinant
text from the Saurmasche catalog. The text often
mentions coins with different dates, which are not shown in the
The Saurmasche catalog was published in 1892 and now, a century later, it is still a favorite among collectors of early German coins. Its photos are not always very clear; its text is terse; and some of its attributions have become obsolete, based on intervening research. Still its exceptionally broad coverage of this complex and difficult series of coinage gives it a unique position in the numismatic literature.
Now, please take your time browsing through the collection.
-- James N. Roberts