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      Contemporaries in Poland      

Sigismund I the Old, 1506-48 King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania
- uncle of Louis II, King of Bohemia and Hungary -
*1467 in Kraków, son of Elisabeth of Habsburg and Casimir IV Jagiello, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. Sigismund married Barbara Zápolya from Transylvania in 1512. After her death he married Bona Sforza from Milan in 1518. Their son Sigismund II August was Grand Duke of Lithuania and the last Jagiellon King of Poland. Sigismund and Bona Sforza were lovers of the fine arts. They brought Italian artists to Kraków and propagated Renaissance ideals throughout the country. The period of the two Sigismunds is known as the Golden Age of Polish culture.
Sigismund's nephew Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach was the last grand master of the Teutonic Order. On 10 April 1525, he took the oath of fealty on the marketplace of Kraków. In return, Sigismund made him the first Duke of Prussia and invested him with the domains of the Teutonic Order. This so called "Prussian Homage" converted the catholic Teutonic Order into the secular lutheran Duchy of East Prussia as a fief of catholic Poland. Western Prussia had already become the Polish province of Royal Prussia in 1466. Sigismund added the duchy of Mazovia (now the province of Warsaw) to the Polish state when the last ruler of the Piast dynasty died in 1529. His country extended from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Sigismund had to fight off attacks from Russians and Tatars. Domestically, he asserted royal power against the predominant nobility.


Cast bronze medal 1527   by Jobst Freudner (goldsmith and seal engraver at the court of Duke Albrecht in Königsberg) using a draft from Hans Schwarz (Nuremberg).
Ø 81 mm, 207 g.   Habich 265; J.D.Köhler II 265.

Obv.:   Dominus SIGISmundus I Rex Pius Pater Patriae EFfigatur AD VIVAM IMAGInem AETAtis Anno 60
"Lord Sigismund I, King, the benevolent father of the fatherland, depicted after the living portrait in his 60th year"   -   bust to the right, in a cloak with a wire hood and the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Rev.:  POtentissimus VTRIVSQue SARmatiae REX MAZOviae DVX RVSSiae ET PRVSiae Dominus ANno 1527   "The most powerful King of both Sarmatia, Duke in Masovia, Lord in Russia and Prussia, in 1527"
Crowned shield with the Polish eagle surrounded by the coats of arms of Lithuania, Austria,
Prussia & Red Ruthenia.


uniface silver medal (1528) by Matthes Gebel, Nürnberg.   Ø 26,5 mm, 8,60 g.
Gumowski, Medaillen pl.XIV,63; Habich 988 var.

SIgiSMVNDVS·DEI·GRACIA·REX·POLONIaE  -  bust to the right.
Sigismund received in 1519 the Order of the Golden Fleece awarded by the Order in Barcelona
chaired by Charles V.

Look at the painting from Hans Süss von Kulmbach (†1522) in Krakow 1515-16,
tempera and oil on wood 24x18 cm, National museum Poznan.

 
Monetary reform
As low-grading and false coining increased, people became suspicious of Halbgroschen in Poland and of Pfennig and Schilling in Prussia. A mint reform was overdue and Sigismund was able to implement it in 1526/8. Poland introduced a new Denar (0,36g), Ternar (0,56g), Groschen (2,05g), 3-Groschen (6,18g) and 6-Groschen (12,36g). Prussian new denominations were Pfennig (Denar), Schilling (= 6 Pf.), Groschen (= 3 Sch.), 3- and 6-Gröscher. Thus, a mint union was effected between Prussia and Poland with largely harmonized laws of coinage. New coin images were introduced on the occasion and the effigy of the Polish king appears for the first time and already in the Renaissance style.


Trojak 1528, Kraków.     Ø 29 mm, 6,04 g (375‰ fineness).   Gum.493; Kopicki 437.
Obv.:   SIGISMVNDVS·PRIM·REX·POLONIE✿  -  bust with crown and armour.
Rev.:   MONETA¤REGNI¤POLONIE¤✿  -  crowned Polish eagle.
Trojak (Polish vor "threesome") ist die Polish name for the "3 Groschen" in German.
This type of coin was introduced in Poland in 1528 as part of the ongoing reform since 1526.


3 Gröscher 1530, Toruń (Thorn), for Prussia, royal Polish West Prussia.
Ø 20 mm, 2,5 g (875‰ fineness).     Gumowski 534, Neumann 73, Schulten 2801.
Obv.:   ¤SIGIS¤I¤REX¤POLOniae¤DOminus¤TOCtIus¤PRVSSiae   ".., Sovereign of all Prussia"
Rev.:   ¤III¤ / GROSSVS / ARGENTE / TRIPLEX / PRVSSIE / ¤1530¤
In 1528, King Sigismund introduced additional types of coins, the 3 and 6 Groschen. Kraków issued them with the 3- and 6-fold weight of the Groschen.
The West-Prussian mints in Toruń, Gdansk, Elblag and the East-Prussian mint in Königsberg used silver of higher fineness (875‰ instead of 375‰). This allowed for lighter weight coins at the same silver content as those produced in Kraków. The field-filling legend "III GROSSVS ARGENTE TRIPLEX" is typical for the new Prussian 3 Gröscher coins.


Ducat 1531, KrakówØ 21 mm, 3,41 g.  Gum.(1914) 582a; Gum.500; Kopicki(1995) 448; Friedb.70.
Obv.:   SIGIS⚬I⚬ - REX⚬POL   -   crowned bust in armor to the right.
Collector's mark by nobleman Andrzej Potocki (coat of arms of the Potockis: cross with 2½ bars).
Exergue: Renaissance dragons and date .I53I.

Rev.:   ⁕IVSTVS∗VT∗PALMA∗FLOREBIT   "The righteous shall flourish like the palm ..." (psalm 92:12)
crowned shield between C - N (Cracovia - Nicholas Szydłowiecki, treasurer of the Crown).
Quartered shield with the coats of arms of the countries, the king ruled in personal union:
the Polish crowned (red) eagle | the Lithuanian rider with sword | the lion of Red Ruthenia (Eastern Galicia / Western Ukraine) | the West Prussian (black) eagle with sword.   The arms of the king's mother, the Austrian fess, is mounted in the center.
In 1528, the Ducat was worth 45 Polish Groschen, i.e. a silver-to-gold ratio of 1:10.


10 ducats 1533, Torun.    Ø 37,8 mm, 35,15 g.   Gumowski 496.
off-metal strike from the dies for the first polish thaler (Dav.8418).

Obv.:  SIGISM· - ·Primus·REX·PO - LONIE·Magnus· - ·Dux·LITHVaniae - &:1533
crowned bust of Sigismund I in armor to the right, surrounded by foliage wreath,
legend interrupted by coats of arms of Poland, Lithuania (horseman), Prussia (eagle), Russia and Austria.

Rev.:  SIG:AVG: - SECVND - :FILIVS: - REX·PO - LON:&C   -   crowned bust of his son Sigismund August in armor to the right, around wreath of leaves, the legend with the same coat of arms, but Milan instead of Austria as maternal arms.


Ducat 1534, Kraków.     Ø 21 mm, 3,49 g.   Gumowski 504; Kopicki 453; Friedb.70.
Obv.:   SIG◦I◦REX◦PO◦DO◦TO◦PRVS◦1534
Rev.:   IVSTVS*VT*PALMA*FLOREBIT¤ᕈ¤
ᕈ (sickle) = mark for mintmaster and leaseholder Jost Ludwig Decius.
Legend and quartered shield like the previous ducat 1531.
C-S stands for the Cracowian mint and the treasurer Spytak Tarnowski.
This typ of ducats was minted 1532-1548.


Groschen (groszy) 1534, Toruń, for Prussia.     Ø 24 mm, 1,9 g.   Gumowski 530.
Obv.:   ¤SIGIS¤I¤REX¤PO¤DO¤TOCI¤PRVSSIE     ".., Sovereign of all Prussia"
Rev.:   ¤GROSSus¤COMmVunis¤TERRae¤PRVSSIE¤1534
"Groschen, common to all Prussian territory"
West Prussia fell under Polish government in 1466, after her secession from the Teutonic Order in 1454. King Sigismund largely confirmed the rights of the diet. The Prussian eagle with brandishing sword arm became the coat of arms of "royal Polish Prussia". The Prussian eagle is derived from the coat of arms of the Teutonic Order: a cross surmounted by a black imperial eagle. The crown on the eagle's neck stands for "being put to the yoke". The sword arm is a symbol of secular law. The first king's governor in West Prussia used this coat of arms to seal state documents.


Groschen 1534, Gdansk.     Ø 22 mm.   Gumowski 561, Schulten 675.
Obv.:   ✿GROSSVS¤CIVItatis¤DANC3¤1534   -   coat of arms of Gdansk.
Rev.:   ✿SIGIS¤I¤REX¤PO¤DO¤TOCI¤PRV
The obverse of the coin reveals the mint owner who is responsible for the legality of the coin. In this case it is the city of Gdansk.
In 1457, King Kasimir IV granted the Hansa town of Gdansk the right to mint, which the Teutonic Order had always refused to do. The Polish Kingdom also awarded Gdansk a crown in the coat of arms to indicate the town's royal standing.
On coins Gdansk (german Danzig) is written as DANNC3K, DANSCZ, DANCZK and GEDANEN.


6 Groschen 1535, Torun, for Prussia.     Ø 28 mm.   Gumowski 540, Kopicki 3105.
Obv.:  ☘SIGISMVN▴I▴REX▴POLOniae▴DOminus▴TOCIus▴PRVSSiae
Rev.:   ☘GROSS▴AR▴SEXDVP▴TERRae▴PRVSSIE▴1535
Shild with value VI, between T - I ("Thorunae Incusus" = coined in Torun).
Compare with the parallel coinage 6 Gröscher 1535, Königsberg for the dukedom in East-Prussia.


6-Gröscher 1535, Gdansk.     Ø 28 mm, 5,36 g.   Gumowski 575; D/S 74; Kopicki 7338var.
Obv.:   ✳GROSSus◦ARgenteus◦SEXDVPlex◦CIVITatis◦DANCZK◦I535
Two lions hold the arms of Gdansk, in between "D", on top the value "VI".
Rev.:   ✳SIGISMVN◦P◦REX◦POLOniae◦DOminus◦TOCIus◦PRVSsiae
"... King of Poland, Sovereign of all Prussia"   -   crowned bust in armor.
Gdansk issued this coin. Therefore, the obvers bears the coat of arms of the city.


Ducat 1546, Gdansk.     Ø ca.21 mm, ca.3,50 g.   Gumowski 578; Kopicki 7343?; Friedb.1
Obv.:   ✱MONE·NO·AVR·CIVI·GEDANENS   -   Two lions hold the arms of Gdansk.
Rev.:   ✶SIGIS·I·REX·POLO·DO·PRVSS·1546   -   crowned bust in armor.


Bronze medal 1532 on Bona Sforza, wife of King Sigismund I the Old.
Medal by Giovanni Maria Mosca, called Patavinus/Padovanus, †1573.
Ø 64 mm.     Börner 915; Armand I, 140,2; E.Raczynski p.43 no.11.

Obv.:   ·BONA SFORTIA·REGINA POLONIAE·INCLYTISSIMA·ANNO XXXII NATAli·ANO VERO Domini·NostRI·M·DXXXII   "Bona Sforza, illustrious Polish Queen, at the age of 32, in 1532 to our Lord"
Bust in very high relief half right, head right, plugged with ornate hair and adorned with rich jewels.

Rev.:   Image of an artichoke plant with roots, stems, leaves and three inflorescences,
in which a banner with the inscription wound:
aeTATIS EST AF FERT   "The season has come, it bears (fruit)"
Around the signature: IO - HANNES MARIA PATAVINVS FECIT
Bona Sforza (1494-1557) was the youngest daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza of Milan. She married King Sigismund in 1518. Her courtyard brought the renaissance to Poland. She was a very active queen.


Cast silver medal 1546 on Bona Sforza,    Ø 42-43 mm, 53,54 g.   see E.Raczynski S.48 Nr.13a,
unsigned, most likely by Giovanni Giacomo Caraglio, who came to the Polish court in 1539.

Obv.:   BONA SFORCIA·REGINA·POLONIAE·INCLITISSIMA·ETA·ANNO XLVI
"Bona Sforza, the most illustrious Queen of Poland, 46 years old"
Rev.:   ANNO VERO·DOMINI·SALVATORIS - NOSTRI·IESV CHRISTI·M·D·XLVI
"In the year of our Savior Jesus Christ 1546"
Bona Sforza, born in 1494, was 38 (not 32) years old in 1532 and 52 (not 46) years old in 1546.


Cast lead medal 1532 on Sigismund II Augustus, son of Sigismund I the Old.
Medal by Giovanni Maria Mosca, called Patavinus/Padovanus, †1573.   Ø 66 mm.
Specimen of the Samuel Kress Collection, Kress 412; Armand I,140,3; E.Raczynski p.35 no.9bis.

Obv.:   Dominus SIGISMVnDVS II REX POLONIE AnnO REGNI NostRI III AETATIS XIII ANNO Domini MDXXXII    "Sigismund II, King of Poland, in the 3rd year of reign, at the age of 13,
in the year of the Lord 1532"   -   Bust to the left, wide hat with feather, necklace.

Rev.:   PARCERE SVBIECTIS ET DEBELLARE SVPERBOS / IVSTVS SICVT LEO
"(Romans, remember:) Forgive the wavering and defeat the arrogants [Vergil] / Just like a lion"
Lion walks to the left, below the signature: IOHANNES MARIA PATAVINVS F
ecit.
Sigismund II Augustus, born 1520, King of Poland since 1530, successor and sole ruler since 1548.

Ref.:
• Gumowski, Marian :   Handbuch der Polnischen Numismatik, Graz 1960.
• Kopicki, Edmund :   Katalog podstawowych typów monet i banknotów Polski oraz ziem historycznie z
    Polską związanych
, vol.2. (9 vol.) Warszawa 1974-89.
• Dutkowski, J. / Suchanek, A. [D/S]:   Corpvs Nvmmorvm Gedanensis, Gdansk, 2000. (Polish/English)
• Edward Raczynski:   Gabinet Medalow Polskich, vol.1, Berlin 1845 & in the web (French)

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