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Numismatic Puzzle: St. Gaudens

US President Theodore Roosevelt thought his country’s coin designs were hideous. Renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was commissioned to design some new coins for him. The result: a majestic Lady Liberty, as featured on this 20-dollar coin from 1916.

Numismatic Puzzle: Finland’s Lion

In 1917, Finland separated from the Russian Empire and became an independent republic. This 1-markka coin of 1922 depicts the young state’s coat of arms, which dates back to the 16th century and can still be seen on Finland’s euro coins: a lion with a sword.

Numismatic Puzzle: Colorado Peaks

The US state of Colorado attracts mountaineers and nature lovers with its high summits. Therefore, they represent Colorado, which officially joined the United States in 1876 as the 38th state, in the 50 State Quarters Program.

Numismatic Puzzle: A Zurich Horror Show

This 1512 Zurich silver taler appears to depict a horror scene: three people hold their heads in front of them. In fact, they are the city’s patron saints Felix, Regula and Exuperantius. They were persecuted and beheaded as Christians in ancient times – and thus became saints.

Numismatic Puzzle: The Ideal Swiss Woman

In 1883, Switzerland introduced a new 20-franc gold coin, the highest denomination at the time. Instead of a head of state, the republican Confederates put the ideal of a Swiss woman on the obverse: Helvetia.

Numismatic Puzzle: Umberto I

Many people in 1882 Italy couldn’t even dream of such a gold 20-lira piece. Umberto I ruled a country torn by social conflict, which caused him to lose his life in an assassination in 1900.

Numismatic Puzzle: Sixtus V

The Vatican’s finances were in a bad way in the 16th century. As the new pope, Sixtus V – here depicted on a 1588 silver coin – therefore relied on high taxes and rigorous saving. After a pontificate of only five years, he died as one of the richest rulers in Europe.

Numismatic Puzzle: Augsburg

Rich Augsburg could afford to build massive fortifications. However, they did not stop the Swedes from conquering the city in the Thirty Years’ War. When this taler was minted in 1641, the Bavarians had just driven out the Swedes – but not for long. And Augsburg bled.

Numismatic Puzzle: Sigismund

Archduke Sigismund of Austria was called “rich in coins” as he turned vast masses of silver into coins – among them this 1486 guldiner. This coins became the model of all heavy silver issues which are known today as taler.

Numismatic Puzzle: Manilla

A manilla looks like a bangle, but its opening is too wide to be used as jewellery. In fact, Manillas were used for centuries as a currency by Europeans to trade with West African nations.
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