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The 2 mark coin of the Grand Duchy of Hesse is a circulation and commemorative coin that was issued from 1876 to 1904. Initially produced at the Darmstadt Mint, the piece was later manufactured at the mint in Berlin. The first 2 mark coin was produced from 1876 to 1877, the last two years of the reign of Grand Duke Louis III (German: Ludwig III; 1806–1877). Louis III's successor, Louis IV (Ludwig IV; 1837–1892), authorized the production of a second coin of the denomination, which was emitted during the years 1888 and 1891. Ernest Louis (Ernst Ludwig; 1868–1937), after his appointment as Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt and by Rhine in 1892, called for the introduction of another 2 mark coin, which was officially produced from 1895 to 1900. He would later allow for a coin of the denomination commemorating the 400th anniversary of the birth of historical Hessian Landgrave Philip I (1504–1567).
Coin of Louis III (1876–1877)Edit
Grand Duke Louis III was the leader of Hesse from 1848 to 1877, and as such served as its sovereign when in 1871 King William I (Wilhelm I; 1797–1888) of Prussia unified Germany into an empire and declared himself its first Emperor (Kaiser). Feeling the need to unify the currencies of his empire as well, William I, per the German Coinage Act of 1873, introduced the German gold mark to replace the regional money in circulation at the time, including the vereinsthaler that had been used in the Grand Duchy of Hesse. The act also allowed regional sovereigns to mint their own silver coinage in denominations of 2 and 5 marks, while an earlier act permitted them to coin gold 10 and 20 mark pieces. The first 2 mark coins of the German Empire were produced in 1876, and the first coin of the denomination issued by the Grand Duchy of Hesse was made during that year under authority from its late ruler. It was produced until the Grand Duke's death in 1877. Like all 2 mark coins issued by the states of the German Empire, the piece of Hesse-Darmstadt is composed of .900 fine silver and has a mass of 11.111 grams, a diameter of 28 millimeters, and a thickness of 2 millimeters. It uses medallic alignment and bears a reeded edge, and like most coins, is round in shape.
Featured in the center of the obverse is a right-facing mustached bust of Grand Duke Louis III. The German legend "LUDWIG III GROSHERZOG VON HESSEN", which translates to English as "Louis III, Grand Duke of Hesse", is inscribed along the rim of the coin. It starts at the bottom left periphery of the obverse, to the left of the bottom of Louis III's likeness. The legend then arches at the top of the coin after extending upwards and then travels downwards before ending at the lower right rim of the obverse. Featured below the bust of the Grand Duke is an "H" mint mark, which signifies production at the Darmstadt Mint in Hesse.
Displayed in the middle of the reverse is the Reichsadler of the German Empire of the time — which consists of a single-headed eagle with its head facing towards the left and its wings outspread. Present on the eagle's breast is a large escutcheon containing the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, surrounded by the chain of the Order of the Black Eagle, an order of chivalry that has been awarded by the Prussian monarchs since 1701. Above the eagle's head is the German State Crown. The German state title "DEUTSCHES REICH" (English: "German Empire") is inscribed along the coin's rim, commencing at the left side of the reverse, arching at the top, and concluding at the upper right periphery. It is then followed by the date of minting. At the very bottom of the coin, the value "ZWEI MARK" (English: "Two mark") is arched along the rim, separated from the state title and date of minting above by a five-pointed star on either side.
A total of 540,108 examples of the coin were produced: 202,108 in 1876 and 338,000 in 1877.
Coins of Louis IV (1888–1891)Edit
Per the order of succession utilized in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, had Grand Duke Louis III produced any children, his eldest son would have become sovereign of Hesse-Darmstadt and by Rhine after his own death. From there the title of Grand Duke would have went to his brother, Prince Charles (Karl; 1809–1877), but he died from illness a few months prior to Louis III. Thus, Louis IV, the nephew of Louis III and eldest son of Prince Charles, became the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt and by Rhine in 1877. However, in spite of his reign beginning in 1877, Louis IV did not authorize the production of a 2 mark coin bearing his likeness until eleven years later in 1888. Such a piece was later minted again in 1891, albeit with a modified reverse.
Depicted in the middle of the obverse is a right-facing bust of Grand Duke Louis IV with a beard and mustache. The legend "LUDWIG IV GROSHERZOG VON HESSEN" (English: "Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse") is written along the periphery of the coin, starting at the bottom left rim, arching at the top of the obverse, and concluding at the bottom right of the coin. An "A" mint mark, signifying production at the Berlin Mint, is written in small print below the likeness of the Grand Duke.
The reverse of the 1888 pieces is virtually identical to that of the 2 mark coins of Louis III, except for the date. However, the Reichsadler on the 1891 reverse is different, as it was altered in 1888 when William II (Wilhelm II; 1859–1941) succeeded his father, Frederick III (Friedrich III; 1831–1888), as German Emperor. William II's version of the Reichsadler is very similar to the one used by William I and Frederick III. However, the shield on the breast of the eagle is considerably smaller in proportion, as is the head of the eagle, whereas the bird's legs and the feathers on its wings are larger. Aside from the depiction of the state symbol, no further alterations are notable.
A total of at least 85,500 examples of the piece of Louis IV were produced: 22,850 in 1888 and more than 62,650 in 1891. Of these, about 500 pieces from 1888 and an unknown number from 1891 were struck in proof quality.
Coin of Ernest LouisEdit
Ernest Louis, the eldest son of Louis IV, succeeded his father as Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt and by Rhine following the death of the latter in 1892. He would continue to officially hold such a position until losing his throne in the German Revolution of 1918. Thereafter, he continued to serve as the titular Grand Duke of Hesse until his death in 1937. In 1895, the third year of his reign, he first authorized the minting of a 2 mark piece (pictured above) bearing his likeness. Such a coin was then produced until 1896, and then again from 1898 to 1900.
A left-facing, mustached bust of Grand Duke Ernest Louis is included in the center of the coin's obverse. Inscribed along the rim of the obverse is the German caption "ERNST LUDWIG GROSHERZOG VON HESSEN", which translates as "Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse". This text commences at the bottom left periphery of the coin, arches at the top of the obverse, and ends at the lower right rim. A small "A" mint mark is present beneath the bust of the Grand Duke, signifying production at Berlin.
The reverse is virtually identical to that of the 1891 2 mark coin of Louis IV, with the exception of the date printed.
Over five years of production, a total mintage of approximately 159,678 examples of the coin of Ernest Louis were minted, including a total of 888 proofs struck in 1896 and from 1898 to 1900.
1904 commemorative coinEdit
Philip I, nicknamed der Großmütige ("the Magnanimous"), was the Landgrave of Hesse from 1509 to 1567 and a prominent individual of the Protestant Reformation. He was born on November 13, 1504, in Marburg, the only son of Landgrave William II (Wilhelm II; 1469–1509) and Landgravine Anna (1485–1525). For his contributions to politics and religion, his legacy has continued to be recognized. In 1904, Grand Duke Ernest Louis authorized a commemorative 2 mark coin, as well as a 5 mark piece, to be struck on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Philip I's birth.
Featured in the center of the obverse are left-facing busts of Grand Duke Ernest Louis and former Landgrave Philip I, the former displayed in the foreground and the latter shown in the midground. The collars of their clothing are visible as well, ending just below their heads. Inscribed along the rim of the coin is the text "PHILIPP • LANDGRAF • Z • HESSEN • ERNST - LUDWIG • GROSSHERZOG • V • HESSEN • U • B • R", a shortened form of Philipp, Landgraf zu Hessen; Ernst Ludwig, Grossherzog von Hessen und bei Rhein (English: "Philip, Landgrave of Hesse; Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine"). Such a legend commences at the bottom left periphery of the coin, arches at the top, and concludes at the lower right rim of the obverse. Between the first use of "HESSEN" and the name "ERNST" is a small Hessian coat of arms — consisting of a lion rampant in the center of an escutcheon — which is used as a separator between the titles of Philip I and Ernest Louis. Another group of words is located between the outer text and the images of the Hessian monarchs, reading "VERBUM • DNI • MANET • IN • AETERNUM". This inscription, an abbreviated form of the Latin verbum Domini manet in aeternum which translates as "the word of the Lord endures", was used as a motto during the Protestant Reformation. The text on the coin is arched around the curves of the outer legend, and is separated between the words "MANET" and "IN" by the busts of Philip I and Ernest Louis. "13 • NOV • 1504 • 1904" is printed underneath the likenesses of the monarchs, the "13 • NOV" written on one line and the years on another. This text signifies that on November 13, 1504, Philip I was born, and that the same date in 1904 would mark his 400th birthday. No mint mark is included on the coin, but the piece is verified to have been produced in Berlin.
The reverse of the coin is very similar to that of the 1891 coin of Louis IV and the general circulation piece of Ernest Louis, although the "1904" date differs.
A total of 102,250 examples of the coin were produced, including 2,250 proof specimens. Such proofs have a matte-finished obverse and a polished reverse.
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation website
- Numista (English) (French)
- List of rulers of Hesse on the English Wikipedia
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