Blood dollars

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So-called blood dollar of Frederick II of Hessen-Kassel from 1778 (diameter 35 mm)

The so-called blood dollar , also called Sterntaler , is a thaler coin of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel , which Landgrave Friedrich II (1760–1785) had minted in 1776, 1778 and 1779 . The taler was named Blood Dollar in the British colonies on the east coast of North America because it was believed to be used to pay the soldiers whom the landgrave had rented to Great Britain . The British crown used the soldiers in the American War of Independence (1775–1785) against the colonists . Another interpretation of the thaler name relates to the assumption that Friedrich used the " blood money " that he received from Great Britain for his soldiers in Hesse for the production of coins .

The term "Sterntaler" is mostly used in Germany . It is related to the order star on the reverse, which shows the house order of the Golden Lion donated in 1770 . Embossed with this popular name and the image of a star are not only found in Hessen-Kassel, but also, for example, on several valley cliffs of Johann Georg von Sachsen-Weißenfels

Coin-historical connections

Hessian soldiers probably brought their cash, the "blood dollars", with them to North America. (Uniform of a Hessian soldier, Hessian Museum, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania)

The Hessian thalers, known in America as Blood Dollars, were not used to pay the Hessian soldiers. The wages were paid by the British Crown in British money. The Hessian thalers that still emerged in America during this time probably came from the cash they received when they were recruited . The silver from the copper mines near Frankenberg an der Eder was used to mint the talers .

The thalers were used, among other things, to compensate families who lost their sons in the American War of Independence.

"Based on this macabre background, the fairy tale of the Sterntalern , which the Brothers Grimm recorded in the Kassel area , was created."

It is probably only known to a few that the fairy tale of the Sterntaler was created on the basis of the Hessian taler coin with the German coin name "Sterntaler".

Landgrave Friedrich II of Hessen-Kassel received large subsidies for soldiers, which he rented to the British crown. In the contemporary historical description of the Landgräflich-Hessische Whole and Half Thaler ... from 1784, the soldiers' trade under Landgrave Friedrich II is mentioned:

“After the American War broke out, [Ihro Hochf. Through the anjetzo reigning Mr. Landgrave Friedrich II of Hessen-Cassel] of the Crown England a corps of your troops gradually strengthened up to 13,472 men against subsidies of more than 450,000  kroner Banco in gold also 30 kroner advertising money and just as much in front of you teach [lost] man to come to [...]. "

According to this, Frederick II left a corps of his troops reinforced to 13,472 men to the Crown of Great Britain for subsidies of more than 450,000 kroner Banco in gold. In addition, according to this contemporary description, the Landgrave received 30 kroner advertising money for a soldier and the same amount for a lost man. Since the Hessian taler coins also appeared in North America, it can be assumed that Frederick did not use the advertising money in King George III's English crowns . (1760-1820) paid out, but instead used his Hessian coins, the so-called blood or star coins.

The soldier trade became a point of criticism in his life. Examples are:

"He made himself notorious for selling souls by gradually giving 17,000 Hessians for a certain sum in British gold during the North American War."

  • Around 1884, Meyers Konversationslexikon referred to his trade in soldiers as human trafficking :

"He made himself notorious for his human trafficking, as he gradually gave 17,000 Hessians against 22 million Thlr in British pay during the North American War ."

"Notorious for selling 12,000 men to the British government to fight the North American colonies ."

Differing numbers of soldiers sold are likely due to the fact that fallen, wounded or deserted soldiers had to be replaced. The specification “12,000 men” is based on a contractual agreement.

The blood dollars or Sterntaler is a marked invoice dollars in 13 1 / 3  Talerfuß to 24  Gutegroschen . This is a numismatic peculiarity because bill coins do not actually exist as actual coins. They were designed to simplify billing. In comparison, in the are Konventionsfuß embossed regular Taler Konventionstaler or conventions species taler in the increased value to 32 Gutegroschen.

Coin description

The pronounced bill thaler of Frederick II of Hessen-Kassel is a silver thaler coin with a gross weight of 23.83 grams and a fine weight of 17.53 grams (after Gerhard Schön). The diameter is 35 millimeters.


The head of Landgrave Friedrich II of Hessen-Kassel is embossed on the front.

  • Inscription: FRIDERICUS II. D (ei). G (ratia). HATE (iae). LANDG (ravius). HAN (aw). COM (es).


The reverse shows the star of the House Order of the Golden Lion with the motto VIRTUTE ET FIDELITATE (bravery and loyalty). Above it is the value of EIN THALER in a curved shape, including the year (1778) and BR, the mintmaster's mark of the mint master Balthasar Reinhard of the Kassel mint .


The taler coins are not uncommon. Nevertheless, there are replicas as sales objects as Copies are designated. The production was carried out by the Deutsche Bundesbank , the Brothers Grimm-Gesellschaft e. V. and other institutions. They can usually be recognized by a small hallmark, for example with “1000” at the bottom of the bust. However, tampering with these items cannot be ruled out, which could turn into forgeries . The replicas of the Deutsche Bundesbank from 1976 (?) Can only be recognized by the embossed image in detail by comparison with the original and by the missing mint master's mark. These pieces are not labeled.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Helmut Kahnt: The great coin lexicon from A to Z , Regenstauf 2005, p. 53: See "Blood Dollar"
  2. Helmut Kahnt: The large coin dictionary from A to Z , Regenstauf 2005, p. 53: Blutdollar, Sterntaler
  3. Helmut Kahnt: The large coin lexicon from A to Z , Regenstauf 2005, p. 466
  4. Heinz Fengler, Gerd Gierow, Willy Unger: transpress-Lexikon Numismatik , Berlin 1976, p. 377: Sterntaler
  5. Wolfgang Eichelmann: Hessian coins and medals - thoughts and reflections on coins and medals of the House of Brabant , Hamburg 2010: Die Sterntaler Friedrichs II.
  6. Künker: Use, among other things, for compensation
  7. Wolfgang Eichelmann: Hessian coins and medals - thoughts and considerations on coins and medals of the House of Brabant , Hamburg 2010: use a. a. for compensation
  8. Künker: Sterntaler and the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm
  9. BTN coins: Sterntaler: The fairy tale of the Sterntalern
  10. ^ Historical description of the Landgräflich-Heßischen Whole and Halben Taler ... , Regensburg im Keyserischen Verlag 1784, p. 123/124
  11. J. Meyer (Hrsg): The large conversation lexicon for the educated classes , Hildeburghausen 1847, p. 329
  12. ^ Meyers Konversationslexikon , 4th edition (1885–1890), Volume 6, p. 703
  13. ^ Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon , Leipzig 1911: Under Friedrich II (from Hessen-Kassel)
  14. Helmut Kahnt: Das große Münzlexikon von A to Z , Regenstauf 2005, p. 54: 13 13 Talerfuß zu 24 Gut Groschen.
  15. coinarchives: Konventionstaler of Hesse-Kassel
  16. ^ Münzkabinett Berlin : Taler 1778, Hessen-Kassel, diameter 35 mm
  17. ^ DHM object database: reprint, Deutsche Bundesbank (1976?), Not marked
  18. ^ Brothers Grimm Society V .: Hallmarked replica, referred to as re-coinage
  19. ma-shops “Nachpräge”, hallmarked “1000” on the bust below.