Rare Silesian Renaissance Tankard with a Saxon Coin and a Medal, Silver-Gilt
This silver-gilt tankard has a typical Silesian and early Renaissance form. The body stands on a profiled ring and the lower edge of this ring is decorated with a diamond frieze. The corpus is very elaborate and beautifully decorated with rich embossing. Three winged putto heads, surrounded by volutes and grotesque animal masks, stand at the centre of the matte background. Between these three fields are three vases with large flowers. The cast and ear-shaped handle is attached to the side. A coat of arms is engraved at the end of the handle. The thumb rest is formed as a naked mermaid. The lid is slightly arched and repeats the volute- and flowers-like decorative motifs of the corpus. It is particularly decorated by a thaler (Dresden/Saxon coin). The inside of the jug is gilded, and, on the bottom, there is a medal, probably from Nickel Milicz or his workshop. The medal is placed in such a way that on the outside of the bottom the Last Supper is visible and on the inside of it the crucifixion of Christ. Finally, the following inscription with the year is engraved on the stand ring: “Hans Friderich wem schat mein Unglück 1596”.
Cultural-Historical Background: Coins and Medals
Jawor’s goldsmiths organized themselves during the seventeenth century, when they also received privileges. However, one can be sure that they were already very active before the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48). This can be proven from the registers of the Catholic parish church in Jawor.
The Saxon thaler (so-called Dreibrüdertaler) originates from the reign of Christian II (1583-1611), Elector of Saxony, or rather from the regency period of the Ernestine Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Saxony-Weimar (1562-1602). In 1591 Christian II followed his father Christian I under legal guardianship simultaneously with his younger brothers, the Dukes Johann Georg (1585-1656) and August of Saxony (1589-1615). The thaler thus represents the three brothers. On the reverse it bears the master mark of the mint master Hans Biener.
Obverse: CHRISTIAN·IOHAN:GEORG·ET·AUGUSTUS, 1596, imperial orb and cross (globus cruciger). The prince in the middle is Christian II, on the left side is standing August, who was the younger one, and on the right Johann Georg.
Reverse: FRAT:ET·DU – CES·SAXON and a coat of arms (14 fields) with three helms and on the sides a rolled-up shield. The helms are those of Thuringia, Kursachsen and Meissen. The fields of the coat of arms represent: Thuringia, Sachsen, Meissen, Count Palatinate, (Kur), Palatinate Thuringia, Orlamünde, Landsberg, Pleissen, Altenburg, Magdeburg, Brena, Regalien, Henneberg, Regalien.
The medal on the bottom is a piece which comes from the Ore Mountains and especially the maker Nickel Milicz (active 1545-68) or his workshop:
Obverse: DESIDIERO DESIDERAVI HOC PASCHA MANDVCARE VOBISCVM AVTE 9V LV XII, and a depiction of the Last Supper.
Reverse: CHRISTI CREVTZ UND BLUT IST ALLEIN GERECHT UND GUT MDXXXIX , calvary mountain scene and underneath on a rostrum the later added date „1596“.
Medals from the Ore Mountains in the 16th century mainly depict religious scenes from the Old and New Testaments. These were very popular and were often used throughout Germany as jewelry, amulets or godparents’ gifts. The workshop Milicz produced many medals, which were highly demanded, and so years later after the production of a piece, the same medal could be coined with a different year. This can also be seen on this medal used here: The year 1539 on the back of the medal does not correspond to the year 1596, which is later stamped on the medal.
The two sayings on the medal:
DESIDIERO DESIDERAVI HOC PASCHA MANDVCARE VOBISCVM AVTE[QUAM PATIAR] 9V LV XII= “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”(Lucas, 22.15)
„CHRISTI CREVTZ UND BLUT IST ALLEIN GERECHT UND GUT„ [= The sacrifice and blood of Christ is the only righteous and good]
both refer to the principle of justification by faith and thus to Luther’s rejection of the sale of indulgences (cf. Romans, 3: 25-26).
The saying engraved on the edge of the tankard: (loosely translated as) “who is harmed by my misfortune” appears on jetons (made of copper) from Gräflich-Mansfeld of the same period. The mint master Berthold Meinhardt, active in (Lutherstadt) Eisleben 1582-1594, probably used the saying on the back of a penny for the first time (see Tornau 1937, no. 1518). It still appears on other coins (see Reinhart, no. 6169) and also in connection with the saying “Traur nicht, Gott hilft” (loosely translated to “do not grieve, god helps”). Coins with sayings of the ruler were especially common at the time of the Reformation.
Bernhardt, Max, Medaillen und Plaketten, Braunschweig: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1966
Erbstein, Julius, Erörterungen auf dem Gebiete der sächsischen Münz- und Medaillen-Geschichte, Bd. 2, Dresden: Selbstverl. D. Verf., 1890.
Katz, V., Die erzgebirgische Prägemedaille des XVI. Jahrhunderts, Prag: Schulz, 1932.
Reinhart, Johann-Christian, Kupfer-Kabinett, oder Beschreibung einer großen Anzahl Kupfermünzen der neuern Zeiten, Bd. 3, Eisenberg: Schöne, 1828.