Topics of coins

The schilling and the thaler of King Stephen Bathory

The reign of Stephen Báthory (1576–1586) brought a further modification and development of the minting system. New minting regulations issued in 1580 played a pivotal role in its formation. In the regulations, the king decided to establish a Polish-Lithuanian monetary union and to mint harmonized monetary units in both parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The coins that were introduced included, among others, the thaler, the trojak (three grossi), the grosz and the schilling (szelag). The first and the last of these coins are particularly noteworthy. That is because the thalers had until that time been very rare and the schillings were only known in the lands of Prussia. For this reason, we have selected both of these coins for presentation in our series.

On the obverse of the thaler minted in Olkusz we see the half-lenght figure of King Stephen Báthory with a crown on his head, in full armor, with a sceptre and a sword in his hands. On the sides there is the divided date: 15 – 80, and in the rim there is an inscription: +STEPHANVS+D+G+REX+POLONIÆ+. On the reverse, there is a crowned Eagle with a small shield on the chest, with the coat-of-arms of the House of Báthory – wolf’s teeth. In the rim, there is an inscription: MAG[nus]+DVX+ LITVA[niæ]+RVSSIÆ*PRVS[siæ]MASO[viæ]&C[et cetera]*. We are therefore informed that the coin was minted by Stephen, by the grace of God King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Masovia etc.

Against the background of the reverse of this largest silver monetary unit, we present the smallest and most common monetary unit, that is the schilling. On the obverse, it carries a decorative letter S under the crown – a monogram of the king’s name. A miniature coat-of-arms of the House of Báthory was placed in the top arc of the letter. In the rim there is an inscription: ·STEPHA[nus] · D[ei] · G[ratia] ·REX·POL[oniæ]. On the reverse of the schilling (not visible on our coin) beneath a royal crown there are two shields with the coats–of-arms of Lithuania and the Crown of Poland. In the rim there is an inscription: ·SOLIDVS- ·REG[ni]·POL[oniæ]·15–80. It is therefore a schilling of the Kingdom of Poland.

Due to the lack of space, it was not possible to present both historical coins in full on the present coin. In addition, it was also necessary to add an imprint with the state emblem, the name RZECZPOSPOLITA POLSKA, the date 2016 and the face value of 20 złoty, and an explanatory inscription “SZELĄG, TALAR STEFANA BATOREGO” (The schilling and the thaler of King Stephen Báthory) on the other side of the coin.

Stanisław Suchodolski