This page last updated: February 9, 2014
There are two articles here right now. Why Collect Swedish Coppers? , which was moved from the Home page and the short Selections From Riga. I will be adding to that one as time permits.
It was at a local coin show where I saw my first Swedish copper. I am a type collector. This means I am potentially interested in anything and everything that crosses my path at a coin show. The curious and unusual draws me like a bear to the honey pot. It is an affliction I embrace. So, a stop at the table of a dealer in world coins is always in order. It was an 1809 1/2 Skilling, a lightly circulated, problem free coin with a lovely chocolate brown patina, an oddly oreinted 9 and some curious doubling of the devices. I was keen on early American coppers. They have great character and history. Unfortunately, nice specimens bring hefty prices. Here was a Swedish copper of the same period for $20. A similar U.S. coin, I surmised, would bring a price 10 times as high. I knew nothing of the market value of this piece but for the price felt I couldn't go wrong. Besides, a big chunk of my family tree traced back to Sweden. The coin was mine. So much for the addage "buy the book before the coin". The coin led to research. I did buy the book. A bunch of them. The American Numismatic Association library helped too. The research led to buying more coppers. A bunch of them. Which led to more books, and magazines. Which led to...well, you get the idea.
That's why I collect Swedish copper coins, but what about you? As I researched I began to discover the rich numismatic aspect of these coins. So it happens with the numismatic process. Thoughtful examination of the subject can encompass study of the politcal, economic and social history of the period, production methods, metallurgy, types and varieties of the coinage and market pricing. In these areas, Sweden and its coinage have much to offer.
Sweden's copper coinage was borne out of the needs of a growing empire and a vast supply of copper. In the 17th century, Sweden was the world's copper supplier. Production was thousands of tons per year, dwarfing supplies available elsewhere. It was during this period that the Swedish Empire was at it's peak. They were a world power with armies claiming land as far east as St. Petersburg, warring all around the Baltic Sea and sacking castles as far south as the Black Forest. In the middle of this, the Protestant Queen abidicated the throne and became a Catholic nosing her way into the politics of Italy and France. The modern equivalent would be Barack Obama quitting the Presidency and moving to France to hang out with the socialists. O.K., more far fetched than that. This was shocking! The 18th century began with war, plague, harsh winters, the proponent of fiat money was executed and it all segued into the Age of Liberty. This eventually resulted in poltical gridlock, 50 years later, which ended in a bloodless coup and monetary reform. Hmmm. In the 19th century, a French field marshall was elected King and turned his back on his old boss Napoleon Bonaparte. This is just scratching at the surface of the curiousities.
The copper coinage is as varied as the history. On the coin types page of this website you will see the eventual listing of 136 types of copper coins. These aren't minor variants requiring a magnifying glass but major types easily recognized as such. The various conditions and strikes of the early coppers (pre-1832) ensures that each piece is unique. They range from small coins to coppers bigger than a silver dollar to plate money weighing 44 pounds (plate money is quite interesting but not considered here). There are many avenues open to collectors. Type collections could be by monarch or denomination or both. Many monarch\denomination combinations are collectably feasible as year sets. For example, a 1633-1654 13 coin year set of 1/4 Öres of Queen Christina is quite achievable for the collector willing to part with a couple hundred dollars and an investment of the time to hunt for the treasures. In such a pursuit one would find that these pieces are also collectable by the variety of crown, on boths sides. Collecting by variety is popular for the coins of Christina and her father Gustav II Adolf.
Why just copper coins? It's what I like. Swedish silver coins are pretty awesome too. Someday, when I win the lotto, I'll build a type set of Marks and Riksdalers and website for those too. For now, that will have to be some other guy. Please check out the site. It's limited right now as this is the beginning. Nonetheless, there's some great links and reference material and a few pics.
And that first copper? Here it is. It turned out $20 was a good deal.
- MKJ, 12/28/2013
1809 1/2 Skilling, KM 565, SM 57b, Map of the Swedish Empire
Riga is located on the east side of the Baltic Sea, in the Gulf of Riga. It is currently the capital of Latvia and its largest city. Riga grew in prominence as part of the Hanseatic League in the 13th - 15th centuries. After the Livonian War in the late 16th century, Riga was a Free Imperial City. It was captured by Gustav II Adolf for Sweden in 1621. It remained a Swedish possession until Russian conquest in 1710 during the Great Northern War. It had been Sweden's largest city and by the 20th century was the third largest city in Russia. World War I allowed Latvia to claim independence with Riga as the capital.
Below are a rare 1623 One and a Half Schilling from the city of Riga while under Gustav II Adolf and a George W. Bush trip coin from the 2006 NATO Summit. A lot of contrast between them, different versions of the skyline for one. Dime sized and very thin, above, silver dollar size and twice as thick as one, below.
1623 1 1/2 Schilling, listed in Haljak as #1464, rare (41-100 extant). 16 mm, 0.5 gm. Aside from this coin, I have seen a few at auction plus the plate coin. All have the die break flaw that runs from 11:00 to 7:00 on the reverse. This may account for the scarcity of the coin.
George W. Bush Trip Coin for NATO Summit in Riga, 2006. Similar coins were used for other presidential trips.
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