One of the highlights of our upcoming August 11 ANA World Coin Platinum Night Auction in Anaheim, from The Cape Coral Collection of Multiple Talers, is a massive 1620-dated 10 Taler coin struck for Friedrich Ulrich of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. Graded MS61 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), this coin is a marvelous presentation of this extremely rare and imposing showpiece, the size of a tea-cup saucer and weighing in at almost 300 grams.
Despite its great size, it is well-struck overall with sharp details and few traces of cabinet friction with the value mark punched in the cartouche at the base of the reverse. The surfaces throughout exhibit luster and reflectivity while enveloped in a superb cabinet patina. There are few other marks of note to be found and no heavy tooling or graffiti (as is unfortunately so often the case with these large issues), although there are traces of light chasing to be found with the aid of a glass, particularly along the upper obverse fields.
Independent of the important pedigree to the collection of Virgil Brand, this is easily the finest example of this denomination we have seen and is truly a singular piece destined for a very advanced cabinet.
Friedrich Ulrich is largely considered one of the more incompetent rulers of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. His poor decision-making ability and rumored alcoholism led to a number of crises, among those an ill-advised siege of the city of Brunswick in 1615, his de facto deposition for six years by his mother and her brother, Christian IV of Denmark, and massive pillaging of his lands by both sides of the forces in the Thirty Years’ War.
This piece was struck during an interregnum of sorts, two years after the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War and two years before Friedrich Ulrich would be able to wrest the rule of his duchy back from his mother and uncle. In 1622, Christian, along with members of the nobility, would aid Friedrich in resuming his rule after the dismissal and expulsion of Anton von der Streithorst, who had been appointed governor in 1616 and through corruption and currency debasement had nearly ruined the economy of the duchy. In the midst of an attempted divorce from Anna Sophia of Brandenburg, Friedrich Ulrich died without issue from an infected leg fracture in 1634, leaving what was left of his duchy after great territorial losses in the war to August the Younger of the Lüneburg (Dannenberg) line.