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Auction: 344 - The Numismatic Collector's Series Sale at Grand Hyatt, NY INC
Lot: 44

Hungary, Maria Theresa (1740-80), Coronation as King of Hungary at Pressburg, 1741, gold medal to the weight of 10-Ducats, 34.66g, by Andreas Vestner, maria theresia hvng. boh. reg. archid. avst., draped bust right, V below, rev. nec priscis regibvs impar., the queen on horseback left, wearing the Holy Crown of Hungary, raising the sword of St Stephen in her left hand, in the foreground two putti holding, on the left, the shield of Austria-Hungary, and on the right, branches of olive and palm, coronata poson. xxv ivn. mdccxxxxi in exergue (MT 31; cf. Montenuovo 1701, Horsky 2847, and Julius 1706, all in silver), extremely fine, extremely rare in gold
Many small jetons were produced to celebrate the coronation of Maria Theresa at Pressburg (Bratislava). They were thrown out to the crowds as the coronation procession passed through the city. They are not rare in silver, but they are very rare in gold. Large medals were also produced, by Mathias Donner, Anton Widemann, and this medal by Andreas Vestner. All the medals show the queen on horseback with a view of Pressburg in the distance. These medal are scarce in silver and are extremely rare in gold. A survey of the major collections of medals formed in previous centuries bears this out. For example, in the great collections of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, formed by Montenuovo, Horsky, and Julius, there are silver examples of this medal, but none in gold. Nor is this medal to be found in the exceptional group of gold and platinum medals in the collection of Archduke Sigismund of Austria. A contemporary of Maria Theresa, Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Northumberland (1716-1776), was passionate about medals and formed a superb collection which included a very fine group of medals of the Holy Roman Empire. Her collection included a silver version of the Donner medal, but did not include any Maria Theresa coronation medals in gold, and did not include this medal by Vestner in any metal.

All the coronation medals depict Maria Theresa on horseback and brandishing a sword. This is highly significant. The coronation ceremony at Pressburg took place in the great cathedral of St Martin. The ceremony was conducted by the Archbishop of Esztergom. The king was crowned with the ancient Holy Crown of Hungary. No king could rule until this coronation had been performed. And no Queen could rule Hungary, so Maria Theresa was crowned as king. After the religious ceremony in the cathedral, the second, public, part of the coronation, had to be performed. The king mounted a charger, and brandishing the Holy Sword of St. Stephen, he rode through the city. Then he galloped to the top of a large mound, where, in full view of the multitudes who had waited for this moment, he held up the Holy Sword, and pointed to the four corned of the kingdom, calling out that he promised faithfully to protect the kingdom and its subjects. Only at this moment did the people, along with the nobility, hail their new king. Maria Theresa knew the importance of this ceremony. She prepared for weeks beforehand, in particular she trained on horseback, and she fulfilled to the letter every part of the ceremony. The solemn procession gathered at 8 in the morning and the celebrations continued into the early hours of the following day. Though the monarchy is long gone, the ceremony is still re-enacted each year in Bratislava.

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