The 1807 Austrian 30 kreuzer copper coin features a portrait of Franz II, last ruler of the Holy Roman Empire and first ruler of the Austrian Empire, where he was known as Franz I. He is more commonly known as Francis II in the English-speaking world, but for two years in Greater Germany he was also known as the Doppelkaiser, or “Double Emperor”–the only doppelkaiser in European history.
Franz was born in 1768, into a famous royal family that included his paternal grandmother Maria Theresa and his uncle, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. Indulged as a child, as a teenager he was prepared for his future role as emperor (since Joseph had no heirs) by the stern hand of Joseph himself. Franz’ father Leopold II succeeded Joseph in 1790 only to die two years later, making Franz the Holy Roman Emperor for the next 14 years.
Around the same time as the coronation of Franz II, the French Revolution was raging across the Rhine. Spurred on by the successful American Revolution and Enlightenment ideals, the revolution of the common people against the monarchy and nobles in France represented much that the conservative European order (including Franz II) feared. Indeed, the “contagion” began to spread throughout the continent, culminating in the existential threat of Napoleon Bonaparte and his new French empire. After the Austrian and Russian loss to Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz in late 1805, Franz disbanded the almost one-thousand-year-old Holy Roman Empire early the next year.
He had planned for this, however, with the founding of the Austrian Empire in 1804. Business went on as usual in the imperial territories – as exemplified by this copper 30 kreuzer coin.
With its roots in the mid-16th century, the kreuzer was originally a silver coin worth 1/60 of a gulden. In 1760, the one-kreuzer denomination became a copper coin, though denominations of three kreuzer and higher continued to be made of silver. In 1807, the Vienna State Bank minted 15- and 30-kreuzer coins–pegged to the value of the Bank’s paper money–in copper instead of silver. By the time Austria decimalized its currency in 1857, 120 kreuzers were worth one thaler.
The following description is based on the coin images accompanying this profile, supplied courtesy of Atlas Numismatics
Starting at the top of the coin closest to the rim and going clockwise, the obverse features the inscription FRANZ KAIS·* V·OEST·KOEN·* Z·HUNG·BOEH·* GALIZ·U·LOD·*, which stands for Franz Kaiser von Österreich König zu Hungarn Böhmen Galizien und Lodomerien (“Franz, Emperor (Kaiser) of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Galicia and Lodomeria”).
A rather interesting square arrangement of beads or dots surrounds a right-facing effigy of Franz II (technically Franz I of the Austrian Empire). On this example, the mint mark of the Vienna Mint (“A”) is found beneath the truncation of his neck. Other mints that produced this issue were located in Kremnica (“B”), Karlsburg (“E”), Graz (“G”), and Smolník (“S”).
The numeral “30”, representing the denomination, is found on the outside of each side of the square. A large number of small dentils line the rim.
But beyond the technical details of the coin, what is most striking about this specimen from Atlas is the glorious combination of bright red in the protected areas of the coin (essentially around everything rendered in any kind of relief), the merlot purple toning near the rims and the very nicely articulated slate grey blue coloring on every portion of the remaining field.
The reverse features the inscription DREYSSIG * KREUTZER * ERBLAEND * ISCH·1807·*, which translates (more or less) to “Thirty Kreuzer [of the] Habsburg Empire 1807”. Along the inner square of beads is the inscription WIENER ST·BANCO ZETT·THEILUNGS MÜNZ Z·30·K· (“Bank of Vienna Coin Denomination of 30 kreuzer”). The imperial double-headed eagle, sharing one crown but bearing two longswords one in each of its talons, assumes pride of place. A small circle through which the field of the coin is visible is superimposed upon the eagle’s breast, and the numeral “30” is in the very middle of that.
A notable variety of the 1807-B features an inverted “C” in the word ERBLAENDISCH on the reverse.
The edge of the 1807 30 kreuzer copper coin is reeded in a special pattern known as a “chain” edge.
|Issuing Authority:||Franz II|
|Mint Mark:||A (Vienna), B (Kremnica), E (Karlsburg), G (Graz), S (Smolník)|
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