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Auction: 23006 - The Official COINEX Auction at Spink
Lot: 666

The Wilhelm Hüffer (1821-1895) Collection | NGS MS61 | German States, Münster 'Sede Vacante' Thaler, 1761, view of the Cathedral, rev. Charlemagne standing holding sword and orb, security edge, 29.20g, 12h (Dav. 2470; Zepernick 225; KM 199), traces of contact marks, otherwise with a pleasing lustre somewhat subdued by peripheral toning, otherwise an enchanting extremely fine, a popular and rare one year type, in NGC holder, graded MS61 (Cert. #6767909-003)


The Wilhelm Hüffer (1821-1895) Collection of European Coins and Medals

with his envelope

Sede Vacante Medals, Thalers and fractional Thalers were struck by a number of German states as a means to commemorate the death of Bishops and Prince Bishops. The majority of which were produced between the 16th and 18th centuries.

This 1761 issue commemorates the death of Clemens August of Bavaria who was the Bishop of Münster from 1719 until 1761, along with several other prince-Bishoprics. He was the fourth son of Duke Maximilian II of Bavaria, an ally to France in the War of the Spanish Succession, and as a result was educated away from his parent from 1706-1715. As a result, Clemens grew up with an acute interest in European power politics, and it would be his high positions in the empire in later life that would increase the power of his family line, the Wittelsbachs.

In 1725, he received priests' consecration in Munich and the following year bishop's consecration, finally being confirmed by Pope Benedict XIII. All his Bishoprics meant that Clemens Augustus was strongly represented at the Reichstag and as such was able to elect Duke Charles Albert of Bavaria as the Holy Roman Emperor, crowning him in Frankfurt.

Clemens was a lover of art and architecture, employing thousands of labourers to work on construction, especially in Bonn. He owned much property across Germany, all decorate with extravagant interiors and sumptuous art collections. He also ordered the building of several buildings now included on the UNESCO cultural world heritage list, including the palaces of Augustusburg and Falkenlust.

The Archbishop of Cologne has however subsequently divided opinion amongst historians. According to Jan Swafford in 2014, Clemens didn't owe his power to "talent, intelligence or reason", instead he was "splendidly brainless and incompetent, not in the least interested in governing anything" and far more focused on "ladies, music, dancing and […] monuments to his glory".

Towards the end of his life he suffered from wild and unpredictable mood swings, made only more intense by the death of his close friend Baron John Baptist of Roll.

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