Featured in this months edition (Volume 2 Number 10) of The Coin of the Month is an NGC MS-65, 1903 Danish 2 Kroner coin (KM-802) commemorating the 40th anniversary of the reign of Christian outside-affiliatelinksnotallowed This coin is 31 mm in diameter and weighs 15 grams with a mintage of 103,392. It has a silver fineness of .8000 and an actual silver weight of .3858 oz.
The obverse of this coin features a right facing bust of Christian IX, King of Denmark. The dates of his reign, 15 November 1863 to 1903 appear around the inner circumference of the coin. Underneath the left portion of Christian IXs bust is the coins date of 1903 and a heart signifying that it was minted in Copenhagen. The initial P to the right of the date represents mint master Vilhelm Buchard Poulsen and the initials GJ underneath the right portion of Christian IXs bust represent this coins engraver, Knud Gunnar Jensen.
Often in order to understand a coins design, you need to understand the times of its issuance. Therefore, to understand this period in Denmarks history, its people, and its ruler is to understand the allegory of the 1903 2 Kroner 40th anniversary of reign commemorative coin.
For illustrative and comparison purposes I will contrast this coin with the gold 20 Kroner pictured as an inset in this months photo collage. I find it fascinating that two coins with similar designs have such diverse interpretations. The 20 Kroner gold coin came into existence as an international trade coin at the founding of the Scandinavian Monetary Union with Sweden in 1873 and Norway two years later. The Danish 20 Kroner circulated at par with the gold coins of the other member nations.
Both the 20 Kroner and my 2 Kroner feature the feminine allegorical figure Dania who represents the spirit of Denmark. Coins with seated feminine personifications can signify several things, and first among them is that Dania, as portrayed on the 2 Kroner, is at rest representing peace. Next, the seated position generally represents a person of authority much like that of a monarch seated on a throne, a god or goddess, or perhaps some other high government official.
Oftentimes a shield accompanies the seated personification signifying either a national value, as is the case of Lady Liberty for the United States or a coat of arms representing the nation issuing the coin. The shield as a piece of defensive armor represents preparedness and protection from all potential foes, domestic and foreign.
The Danish coat of arms emblazoned on the shield of the 2 and 20 Kroner coins, feature three crowned blue lions and nine hearts. Historians believe that the hearts at one time were the petals of the white lotus, which is a type of water lily. However, this was lost over the years and became the hearts of today due to worn and crudely made signets during the Middle Ages.
The sheaf of wheat on the 2 Kroner and corn on the 20 Kroner represent the agrarian nature of Danish society and Denmark's agricultural exports. While other European nations were fueling the industrial revolution of the 19th Century, Denmark was leading the way in the agricultural revolution. Universal education and other political reforms of the late 18th to middle 19th Century eventually lead to new agricultural technologies, innovations, and co-ops.
It is at this point that the allegories of the 2 Kroner and the 20 Kroner become dissimilar and take on different meanings. Dania, as illustrated on the 20 Kroner is seen holding a scepter in her right hand signifying Danish sovereignty. At her feet is a dolphin, the dolphin is an ancient omen of good luck and fair weather symbolizing Danish naval prowess. Since this coin was meant for circulation outside of Denmark, the allegory of the coin was directed towards foreigners.
The 40th anniversary of reign 2 Kroner, however, was meant to remind Danish citizens of the benefits of living in Denmark under the reign of Christian outside-affiliatelinksnotallowed The legend on the reverse delimited by flowers and translated, With God for Honor and Justice reveals the true intent of this coin and defines the allegory.
Rather than holding a scepter as on the 20 Kroner, Dania is extending her right arm. Extending the arm, especially for someone in authority can signify power and leadership. A person may also extend their arm to give someone directions or to show them the way. It can also signify things like acceptance, welcome, vulnerability, transparency, and compassion. Seizing upon these definitions, I believe the purpose of this allegory was to remind the people of the benevolence of their government. Interestingly, it was during the reign of Christian IX that the following social programs were introduced
* 1891--Old age pension law; means-tested pensions for persons 60 years or older, financed by the state and communes through general taxation.
* 1892--Sickness insurance law; public subsidies to recognized voluntary insurance funds.
* 1898--Employers liability act; in order to ensure workers compensation in case of industrial accidents. (THE DEVELOPMENTAL WELFARE STATE IN SCANDINAVIA: LESSONS FOR THE DEVELOPING WORLD, STEIN KUHNLE AND SVEN E.O. HORT)
Tensions between Denmark and Germany were high when Christian IX ascended to the throne in November of 1863. Consequently, Denmark found themselves at war with Prussia and Austria in 1864 over the disputed duchies of Schleswig-Holstein. After about eight months, Denmark was soundly defeated. The bitterness of this war caused a shift in national priorities from colonialism to domestic development. The effect of this shift brought peace and prosperity to Denmark, and hence the dove as the international symbol of peace on the 40th anniversary of reign, 2 Kroner.
In summary, while Christian IX resisted many of the reforms of the late 19th Century, he no doubt enjoyed the political dividends of peace and prosperity in Denmark during his reign.
Coins are historical artifacts. For my part, I am simply researching the historical context of the coin and connecting the dots as I see them. Thats it for now, so until next month, happy collecting!
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