Station: [19] Coin Collection

We may find it hard to believe these days, but until 1806, Solms-Braunfels was a sovereign state, subordinate only to the imperial crown in Vienna. It had all the features of a state: its own territory, its own administration, its own laws, its own jurisdiction, its own military and its own coinage.

As a reward for services to the emperor and the empire, Reinhard von Solms-Lich was granted the privilege of minting his own coins in the county in 1552. Coining your own money was a profitable affair, so the other counts of Solms soon also claimed this right for themselves – even though it had been expressly granted only to the Lich line! But instead of minting new coins from their own silver and copper deposits, they adopted a practice that was common throughout the Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. Old thalers and coins with a high percentage of precious metal were melted down and re-minted as debased, small-denomination coins. These were put into circulation at large trading centres – Frankfurt, for example. The financial crisis caused by this practice was known as the Kipper and Wipper period (literally, the Tipper and See-Saw period). It came to an end in 1623. The sovereign lords who held the minting privilege had noticed that the profits weren’t real... 

... because the debased coins returned to their own coffers in the form of taxes and duties!

The Solms coins on display here are arranged by line as well as chronologically. The early Solms coins of the Braunfels and Laubach lines date to the Kipper and Wipper Period. They were struck despite those lines not having minting privileges. Count Reinhard von Solms-Hungen was charged accordingly and appeared before a judicial council called the Reichshofrat or Aulic Council, in 1624. 

Most Solms coins were minted in the late 16th and 17th centuries. By the 18th century, some Counts of Solms had started their own coin collections – a passion that continued into the early 20th century. Which was a stroke of good luck for our collection!

All depictions: © Schloss Braunfels