Numismatic Ignorance

by Ursula Kampmann

December 19, 2013 – It’s a question of social acceptance, whether technical terms find their way into our common speech. Just have a look at the average mother. She fluently uses words like ADHD and dyslexia, when she wants to convince her son’s teacher that it was not her boy’s fault that he disrupted the class. While mothers learn fast, fans of medieval markets do not. They are obstinate, when they use their brass tokens as gold thalers.
I am even more annoyed by translators who simply do not care, which denominations were used in the epoch, which is the setting of the novel they are translating. A simple search in the Internet might have offered the answer.

Nevertheless, my reason for writing this article is an offense against my numismatic personality. Each time I am walking into the city of Lörrach I am annoyed by an especially brainless use of numismatic terms.

The inn sign of the golden thaler. Photo: UK.

The inn sign of the golden thaler. Photo: UK.

I am passing a hotel which is named “Golden Thaler”. Beyond that the innkeeper uses a Byzantine hyperpyron as logo.

A question arises: Is it expediency? There is this famous story about the British landlord who called his pub “Seven Bells” featuring on his inn sign eight bells and making a living of all passers-by who visited his pub in order to inform him about his mistake. Well, did the innkeeper of the “Golden thaler” expect thousands of numismatists, which his false name could attract?
Unfortunately, I am afraid that he was not able to reflect about this kind of complicated scenario. He was simply too ignorant and incurious to generate the will to find out, what the name of his inn really meant.

If you want to see an example of a “golden thaler” at a medieval festival (and if you want to amuse yourself at the ideas of the medieval period some human beings have developed), click here.

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