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Maria Theresa Silver Thaler

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Maria Theresa Silver Thaler

The silver taler was the currency of the Empire and of the Austrian hereditary lands. The silver taler was very important for trade with the Levant (parts of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria) and the Maria Theresa Taler became the best known and most popular silver coin in the Arabian world. After the death of the Empress, Joseph II permitted the mint at G?nzburg (today in Bavaria, but at that time Austrian territory) to continue striking with the 1780 dies in order to meet the demand from the Middle East. The 1780 taler was the only silver coin that the Arabs trusted and would accept. Thus began the long minting history of the "Levantine Taler" of the Empress Maria Theresa. Since then the G?nzburg taler has been restruck for trade purposes at Vienna, as well as at mints in Prague, Milan and Venice from time to time. The taler became the unofficial currency of some of the lands in North Africa, and it can still be found today in many Arabian bazaars. This version of the taler became so important that it was restruck even in London, Bombay, Paris and Rome. The "Levantine Taler" lost its status as legal tender in Austria in 1858, but thanks to an imperial edict of 1857 as well as the present laws of the Austrian Republic, the mint at Vienna still produces this famous trade-taler down to the present day.

The thaler is 39.5 mm in diameter and 2.5mm thick, weighs 28.0668 grams and contains 23.3890 grams (0.752 troy ounces) of fine silver. It has a millesimal fineness of .833

MARIA THERESA SILVER THALER 1780 RESTRIKE UNCIRCULATED CONDITION

Details

The thaler

is 39.5 mm in diameter and 2.5mm thick, weighs 28.0668 grams and contains 23.3890 grams (0.752 troy ounces) of fine silver. It has a millesimal fineness of .833

Maria Theresa thaler

Maria Theresa thaler. Mint of Rome.The Maria Theresa thaler (MTT) is a silver bullion coin that has been used in world trade continuously since it was first minted as a thaler in 1741. It was named after Empress Maria Theresa, who ruled Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia from 1740 to 1780.

Since 1780, the coin has always been dated 1780 and has been struck by the following mints: Birmingham, Bombay, Brussels, London, Paris, Rome and Utrecht, in addition to the Habsburg mints in Hall, G?nzburg, Kremnica, Karlsburg, Milan, Prague and Vienna. Between 1751 and 2000, some 389 million were minted. These different mints distinguished their printings by slight alterations to the saltire, or "flower" symbol, which looks like an "X" at the top left of the reverse side of the coin. Since 1946, when the Vienna Mint rescinded the rights of foreign governments to issue such copies, over 49 million have been produced.

It was one of the first coins used in the United States and probably contributed (along with the Spanish eight-bit dollar and the Straits dollar) to the choice of a dollar as the main unit of currency for the United States.

In German-speaking countries, following a spelling reform dated 1901 which took effect two years later, "Thaler" is written "Taler" (although the spelling of "Theresia" was not affected). Hence 20th-century references to this coin in German and Austrian sources are found under "Maria-Theresien-Taler". The spelling in English-speaking countries was not affected.

The inscription on the obverse of this coin is in Latin: "M. THERESIA D. G. R. IMP. HU. BO. REG." The Reverse reads "ARCHID. AVST. DUX BURG. CO. TYR. 1780 X". It is an abbreviation of "Maria Theresia, Dei Gratia Romanorum Imperatrix, Hungariae Bohemiaeque Regina, Archidux Austriae, Dux Burgundiae, Comes Tyrolis. 1780 X", which means, "Maria Theresa, by the grace of God, Empress of the Romans, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Archduchess of Austria, Duchess of Burgundy, Countess of Tyrol, died 1780". The "X" is actually a saltire, and indicates that the coin was minted after 1753. Around the rim of the coin is the motto of her reign: "Iustitia et Clementia", meaning "Justice and Clemency".

In Ethiopia

From the reign of Emperor Iyasu II of Ethiopia, the MTT is first recorded as circulated in Ethiopia.[1] According to traveller James Bruce the coin, not debased as other currencies, dominated the areas he visited in 1768. Joseph Kalmer and Ludwig Hyun in the book Abessinien[2] estimate that over 20% of 245 million coins minted until 1931 ended up in Abyssinia. In 1890 the Italians invented the Tallero Eritreo, styled after the M.T.T., and introduced it in their new colony Eritrea, also hoping to impose it on the commerce with Ethiopia. They remained, however, largely unsuccessful. At the early 1900s Menelik II unsuccessfully attempted to mint the new Menilek thalers, with his effigy, but styled following the model of the M.T.T., locally and force their use. The newly established Bank of Abyssinia also issued banknotes denominated in thalers. Starting in 1935 Italians minted the thaler on their own.

The Maria Theresa thaler was also formerly the currency of Muscat and Oman. The coin remains popular in North Africa and the Middle East to this day in its original form: silver coin with a portrait of the buxom Empress on the front and the Habsburg Double Eagle on the back. It is said that the low-cut gown she wears has added to the popularity of the coin.

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A Silver Legend: The Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler

Synopsis

In "Flashman On The March", (published 2005) George MacDonald Fraser opens with the words - "Half a million in silver, did you say?" "In Maria Theresa dollars. Worth a hundred thou' in quids." He held up a gleaming coin, broad as a crown, with the old girl double-chinned on one side and the Austrian arms on t'other. "Damn' disinheritin' old bitch, what? Mind, they say she was a plum in her youth, blonde and buxom, just your sort, Flashy..." One of the most successful coins ever made, the Maria Theresa thaler (MTT) circulated for over two centuries and is still minted today, largely for collectors. Many historians consider it to be the first example of a truly international currency, like the US dollar or the Euro. It was used in the early United States, and is still found in souks across the Middle East. When Clara Semple was given a thaler by a Sudanese silversmith in Omdurman market, the heavy coin lying in the palm of her hand pricked her curiosity: "I was tempted to muse on its individual travels and was inspired to embark on this story of a silver legend." About the The Empress: Maria Theresa inherited the Habsburg throne, the first woman to do so, aged 23 in 1740. Admired for her brilliant blue eyes and abundant golden curls, she was astute and formidable, ruling for 40 years over the Empire. A reformer, she laid the foundations of a modern state. Maria Theresa had 16 children, and was known as 'Europe's mother-in-law.' About the Coin: Large silver coins named Joachimsthalers after the silver mines in Bohemia - later abbreviated to thaler, daler or dollar - were first minted in the 16th century. The Maria Theresa thaler was first struck in 1741 and imperial state mints operated throughout Austrian territories. As the coin's importance grew it was also produced in Britain, France, Italy and India. It kept its value as a result of its high silver content, unlike other coins which were adulterated with dubious metal alloys. Its intricate details and fine engraving made it hard to counterfeit. After Maria Theresa's death in 1780 the coin continued to be struck since it was vital for trade. About Colonial Trade and Exploration: Europe's passion for coffee propelled the imperial thaler into the Levant, Arabia, and Africa. With the decay of Ottoman power and the ascendancy of European interests in the Middle East, the MTT filled a need and fast became the most acceptable currency for trade. Thalers circulated throughout the Red Sea region, the Horn of Africa, the Americas and as far east as China. Coveted by colonial officials, merchants, explorers and smugglers alike, they were used to collect taxes or buy slaves, and for ransoms or rewards. Hoarding the treasured silver coins was a widespread practice. Until recently, carrying bags of thalers was essential (albeit risky) for travellers journeying into the interior. Wilfred Thesiger wrote in "Arabian Sands" in 1954 - "Maria Theresa dollars... are the only coins acceptable here; the Arabs call them riyals." About Jewellery and Fashion: Head-dresses with chains of thalers, chokers, necklaces, armbands, bracelets, anklets, rings, belts, brooches to attach to face veils or headscarves... Prized aesthetically for their remarkable lustre, thalers have been used by generations of craftsmen in the creation of traditional jewellery, also serving as a kind of portable bank since nomadic tribes wore their wealth while on the move, and indicating a woman's tribal or regional identity. This unique silver coin was a part of the dowry system; was used as a charm to ward off evil spirits; was believed to contain healing powers, and to aid fertility since Maria Theresa had borne 16 children. To this day, the thaler retains a special place in the making of jewellery and ornaments, and has inspired international couturiers such as John Galliano in their catwalk shows. Clara Semple draws on travellers' diaries, anecdotes from silversmiths and merchants, government papers, consular reports, mint and bank records. She reveals how this cosmopolitan silver coin financed military expeditions, colonial wars, bounty payments, and international diplomatic intrigues. Entertaining and superbly illustrated, "A Silver Legend" is an informative and compelling read. The economist John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1914 - 'The old-established House of Habsburg have turned out for a century and a half, as though it were Rowland's Macassar oil or a Bath Oliver biscuit, a thoroughly sound and reliable article, none genuine without the signature of the now long-sainted Mrs M. Therese'.

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You hit a soft spot with me and this coin. I bought my first one in 1963 (still have it) and have since acculmilated about a dozen or so. Most are in proof (can you shed a light as to when these were made?) and some rather well circulated ones including one with a hole on the top made to be worn.

When I die I have instructions for one to be buried with me so I can pay Charon the boatman to cross the river Acheron, figure it's such a well known coin he'd accept it instead of an Obolus. :wacky: .

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You hit a soft spot with me and this coin. I bought my first one in 1963 (still have it) and have since acculmilated about a dozen or so. Most are in proof (can you shed a light as to when these were made?) and some rather well circulated ones including one with a hole on the top made to be worn.

When I die I have instructions for one to be buried with me so I can pay Charon the boatman to cross the river Acheron, figure it's such a well known coin he'd accept it instead of an Obolus. :wacky: .

Hi Coastle, to be honest I don`t really know a great deal about this coin, I just thought with it being such a famous one, there should be a thread on it on the forum.

1963 that was some years before I was born.. :rolleyes: But only slighty :cheers: As regards to where they were minted, from what I can gather, they seem to have been minted just about everywhere, something silly like 399 million of them seem to be in circulation.

I like the sound of the one you have in your collect, with the hole in it, what tales it might be able to tell if it could talk, the mind boggles.

Cool, idea to be buried with one, I`m sure it won`t do any harm, as if the legends are true, I doubt he`ll except American Express, despite what they claim :cheeky: !!!

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Hi Coastle, to be honest I don`t really know a great deal about this coin, I just thought with it being such a famous one, there should be a thread on it on the forum.

1963 that was some years before I was born.. :rolleyes: But only slighty :cheers: As regards to where they were minted, from what I can gather, they seem to have been minted just about everywhere, something silly like 399 million of them seem to be in circulation.

I like the sound of the one you have in your collect, with the hole in it, what tales it might be able to tell if it could talk, the mind boggles.

Cool, idea to be buried with one, I`m sure it won`t do any harm, as if the legends are true, I doubt he`ll except American Express, despite what they claim :cheeky: !!!

I know there is a butt load of them out there which tickles me when dealers say "rare".

Would love to do a bill to AMEX "Charon's Ferry Services"

Speaking of coins with holes in them my next favorite coin is the Mexican 8 Reales piece I have one from 1832 with a hole in in and it's been in the family so long no one knows where it came from. I'll dig it out and scan it.

That's another coin to talk about if it hasn't been done. That and the Pillar dollar which I don't have one yet, very pricey now a days.

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I know there is a butt load of them out there which tickles me when dealers say "rare".

Would love to do a bill to AMEX "Charon's Ferry Services"

Speaking of coins with holes in them my next favorite coin is the Mexican 8 Reales piece I have one from 1832 with a hole in in and it's been in the family so long no one knows where it came from. I'll dig it out and scan it.

That's another coin to talk about if it hasn't been done. That and the Pillar dollar which I don't have one yet, very pricey now a days.

By all means start threads for the other coins you`ve mentioned. I look forward to seeing the scans.

Heres a link for more info on the Maria Theresa Thaler, which might be of interest..

"The favourite coin in use in this part orf Arabia is the Maria Theresa dollar (riyal), the value of which is affected by the local demand. For the remoter parts of the interior little information is available; but it appears that the there Maria Theresa dollar is current almost everywhere."

–British Admiralty’s Handbook of Arabia 1, 1920 (Aden and Vicinty)

http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/2003...of.a.thaler.htm

And heres another very good website...

http://www.theresia.name/en/

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Book review by The British-Yemeni Society

A Silver Legend: The Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler

by Clara Semple

Barzan Publishing Ltd, 2005. Pp.xii + 165. Illus. Glossary. Bibliog. Index. Hb. ?19.95. ISBN 0-9549701-0-1.

It was a brilliant idea of Clara Semple’s to devote a book to this offbeat but fascinating subject. She was initially inspired to do so by her interest in the jewellery of the Nile Valley in which she was already a recognised expert. But her new subject entailed years of exploration over a much wider area. The result is a splendidly illustrated account of the Maria Theresa dollar (or Thaler) drawn from many sources as well as her own personal studies. Anyone who has lived in North Africa or Arabia should need no introduction to the Thaler which they must often have seen adorning the necks or the coiffure of Arab women, many fine examples being illustrated here.

And what was this remarkable coin? Its origins are as remarkable as any other aspect of the story. Maria Theresa inherited the headship of the Holy Roman Empire on her husband’s death in 1745 after producing for him no less than sixteen children (amongst them the famous figure in France, Marie Antoinette). She also took up in a big way the minting of the imperial coinage. The Thaler (hereinafter the MTD) bore on one side her own handsome head and her generous bust – allegedly the secret of its popularity amongst Arab men, quite apart from its pure silver content. When she finally died in 1780, the MTD went on being produced all over the place for 200 years, unchanged and still dated 1780, and was distributed far and wide, finding its way to markets as remote as Tokyo and Togo.

The main centres of production were latterly Birmingham and Bombay; and during a final decade (l949–6l) the British Royal Mint struck four and a half million MTDs, indistinguishable from the beautifully engraved original.

It will interest English readers of this Journal that during those two centuries all British explorers in Arabia and Africa found that a plentiful stock of MTDs was essential for their progress, if not also for their survival. Amongst the best known were Sir Samuel Baker and his wife on their intrepid search for the source of the Nile in the 1840s, Richard Burton, Rosita Forbes, right through to Bertram Thomas and Wilfred Thesiger.

In Yemen itself it was the great Danish explorer Carsten Niebuhr who first reported to Europe the hoards of MTDs in Sana’a. Yemen had built up its stocks by discovering the value in Europe of coffee, which it was the first to grow in quantity and exchange for MTDs, as did Abyssinia when coffee growing was developed there. We learn that in 1923 some 32,000 MTDs would be needed to buy 100 tons of coffee beans in Addis Ababa.

Semple has dug up dozens of entrancing stories about the MTD, too many to be mentioned here. It was good to be reminded of the problems suffered by Evelyn Waugh, when covering as a journalist the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, in finding the necessary MTDs to buy a railway ticket from Diredawa to Addis.

Glencairn Balfour Paul

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"A Silver Legend: The Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler

by Clara Semple 178pp, Barzan Publishing, ?19.95

"At Talh market in northern Yemen, I once watched an old

man pay for a fresh clip of Kalashnikov ammunition with

some weighty silver coins. Neither Yemeni or Saudi riyals,

these reassuringly hefty discs were date-stamped 1780 and

bore the image of a large busty woman on one side, an

impressively feathery eagle on the other. They were silver

dollars of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the woman was

Maria Theresa, empress from 1740 to 1780.

Despite generous offers from the market-trader to sell me

various machine guns, bazookas and even a tank ("only two

days to deliver!"), I bought the money from him instead,

paying a small premium to avoid some obvious forgeries.

Little did I know that in some senses all the coins were

forgeries, and a bright copy made in the sands of Talh the

day before was at least as interesting as my supposed

originals. Those, as Clara Semple points out in her

intriguing book, could easily have been minted in Birmingham

in the 1950s, or Brussels, London, Paris, Bombay, Rome or

Vienna at some time in the previous two centuries - almost

all had that 1780 date. As for rarity, around 400 million

are known to have been issued in that period.

The tale of how this particular coin came to be such a

cornerstone of trade for so long - a true international

currency - starts with the first voyages of discovery,

when merchants found that many remote peoples wanted silver

bullion in exchange for their goods, certainly not English

woollens. And yet verifying silver content is neither simple

or practical: a coin that could be trusted was the answer."

"Once traders began using the coin down the Red Sea,

particularly in the burgeoning coffee trade, they found

demand was insatiable. Not only did the silver content make

them reliably valuable, the handsome currency made excellent

jewellery with the added appeal of being something of a

fertility fetish. On that score, I would have liked a few

words from the various people, mainly women, who are depicted

in the book - the photographs are wonderful - all wearing the

Maria Theresa dollar.

What we do get, however, is some sterling anecdote. When

Barclays Bank opened a branch in Addis Ababa in 1941, the

cashiers were inundated with deposits of the coins, often

retrieved from where the owners had buried them. The process

of counting was so arduous that one teller devised a gas mask

to survive the dust. Travellers found the Maria Theresa both

a curse and a blessing. Wilfred Thesiger, setting out to cross

the Empty Quarter, was forced to take 2,000 coins, a

substantial weight, but the only currency anyone would accept

in the desert."

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"In the days beyond recall when i was surgeon to the Aden Protectorate Levies in the Western Aden Protectorate(now Yemen) in addition to my usual duties i was goatherd and paymaster. This latter duty consisted in counting out Marie Theresa thalers (MTT)from a wooden or metal box,paying the levy and getting a thumbprint receipt. The boxes wereleft lying about unguarded and uncounted as they were so heavy it took 4 men to lift one. this book gives an excellent account of the life and times of Empress Marie Theresa of Austria and details the history,romance ,intrigue,forgery and jewellery relating to the MTH.The thaler was first minted in 1741 and is still minted to this day.Since 1780 the year of her death all thalers have that date.In aa 4-600 million thalers have been minted in mints mainly in Austria but also in Birmingham and London In its hayday thalers were used all over Arabia and North Africa but isnow used mainly as decoration and jewellery."

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Here's my Thalers: Proof, Uncirculated, Circulated, some of these have nice toning.

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Here's my Thalers: Proof, Uncirculated, Circulated, some of these have nice toning.

Coastie, an impressive collection, there!!! I like the one on the chain.

I`ve just picked up my second Maria for (what I think was a bargain ?4.40), its a restrike, but its a bit tarnished so it looks like it might have done the rounds....

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I have one that I paid four dollars for in Bahrain. I bet that it definitely made the rounds. I will have to try and find it.

Paul

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I have one that I paid four dollars for in Bahrain. I bet that it definitely made the rounds. I will have to try and find it.

Paul

Paul,

Look forward to that!! Post it on here if you can.

My Dad has some that the Sultan of Oman, threw into the air for some guests, during a party he had on board the Royal Yacht, in the early 80`s. I remember him saying that they were finding them all over the place for ages afterwards. Now I bet these had done the rounds, not to mention having an interesting story all of there own!!!!

Gordon.

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Here's my Thalers: Proof, Uncirculated, Circulated, some of these have nice toning.

Coastie, can we have a close up of the one on the chain please?

Cheers,

Gordon. :cheers:

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I'd love to get one of them. Been on my list to get for a while.

Some info here: http://www.theresia.name/en/

Eric, cracking webiste that that isn`t it!!!!!! Re buying one, I fully recommend them, and whats more they won`t break the budget!!!! Theres no shortage of them on the old Ebay. At first I thought if you`ve got one then you`ve got them all, but there seems to be many different types all on the same theme as it were. I also like the ones that have been made into something else (jewellery, power horns, decorations for rifles, etc). Theres some cracking pictures in Clara Semple`s book, its well worth a read, and a wealth of information on the coins themselves.

Gordon. :cheers:

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Coastie, can we have a close up of the one on the chain please?

Cheers,

Gordon. :cheers:

Here you go sorry to take so long

Edited by coastie

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Here you go sorry to take so long

I might have missed it... but is there a way to tell when one of these was actually minted?

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I might have missed it... but is there a way to tell when one of these was actually minted?

This was in an earlier post

Since 1780, the coin has always been dated 1780 and has been struck by the following mints: Birmingham, Bombay, Brussels, London, Paris, Rome and Utrecht, in addition to the Habsburg mints in Hall, G?nzburg, Kremnica, Karlsburg, Milan, Prague and Vienna. Between 1751 and 2000, some 389 million were minted. These different mints distinguished their printings by slight alterations to the saltire, or "flower" symbol, which looks like an "X" at the top left of the reverse side of the coin. Since 1946, when the Vienna Mint rescinded the rights of foreign governments to issue such copies, over 49 million have been produced.

I'm looking at this web site right now and it looks promising for ID'ing the mints/restrikes.

http://www.jdsworld.net/article/m_theresa_thalers.html#NOT

Edited by coastie

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Well doing a search by the above mentioned web page all of my thalers including the holed one are from the Vienna mint (1957-75). They all have 9 pearls around the brooch on the obverse. If I read it correctly that was from the Vienna mint. Oh well, still love 'em.

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Here you go sorry to take so long

Many thanks for taking the time to photograph this for us, Charlie. What a smashing example. I`ll have to keep my eye out for ones made into jewellery. Just out of interest where did you pick this one up? I wouldn`t be to put off by it being a relatively modern one, its still really nice, and who knows where its been & what its bought in the last 40 odd years? Might have been used during the Dhofar War to buy AK47 ammo for example. The imagination could run riot :cheers:

Gordon.

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Many thanks for taking the time to photograph this for us, Charlie. What a smashing example. I`ll have to keep my eye out for ones made into jewellery. Just out of interest where did you pick this one up? I wouldn`t be to put off by it being a relatively modern one, its still really nice, and who knows where its been & what its bought in the last 40 odd years? Might have been used during the Dhofar War to buy AK47 ammo for example. The imagination could run riot :cheers:

Gordon.

I'm getting old and losing my memory, I don't know when or where I got this.

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A beautiful example of a Thaler made into jewellery.

Traditionally silver Yemen jewelry has represented a long term financial investment for families as well as being valued for its protective qualities. It was presented to the bride by the groom's family in the form of a dowry and considered her property and part of the household wealth. Gold is now the dowry gift of choice.

Jewelry making in Yemen is closely connected to Jewish craftsmen who settled there in ancient times and for centuries they were responsible for most of the jewelry produced. Techniques such as filigree and granulation were developed before the advent of Islam.

When the state of Israel was created in 1948 almost the entire Jewish population in Yemen, including the craftsmen, immigrated. The craftwork produced after this exodus lacked the expertise and refinement of the Jewish craftsmen. Older pieces produced by the Jewish craftsmen are held in high regard and today are referred to as "Jewish work".

Some of these ornaments, usually of a particular style, were stamped with the Hebrew name of the maker in Arabic characters. The centuries old techniques are used today by Jewish craftsmen in Israel.

Traditional silvermaking techniques are not completely lost in modern day Yemen and on recent visits to Sanaa I have noticed silver ornaments being produced that rival the skill level of the early Jewish craftsmen.

******************************************************

A vintage piece of bedouin jewelry which would have been worn at the forehead. The centerpiece is a Maria Teresa thaler which was the main source of silver for vintage and antique jewelry.

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Crazy to think, that these coins got as far a field as China. I`ve seen pictures of them with Chinese cut marks on them. Think they were used as a form of silver bullion by the East India Company when trading in China & the Far East.

Found this on the net............

The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Lecture - Thursday 10th November 2005

The Maria Theresa Thaler in Ethiopia and Beyond

Given by - Clara Semple

Reviewed by - Anne Parsons

Most, if not all, visitors to Ethiopia will have come across examples of the Maria Theresa thaler (or dollar) ? either as a coin or incorporated into jewellery (notably in Ethiopia being cut to form neck crosses). Few people, however, will know a great deal about its history. In November 2005 Clara Semple gave a wonderful illustrated talk to members of the Society which enlightened many of us.

Clara Semple lived and worked as an archaeological artist for many years in the near East and north Africa and became fascinated with the large silver coins she saw bearing the portrait of the Austro-Hungarian empress Maria Theresa.

Maria Theresa was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dynasty and the first thaler showing her (as a rather youthful lady) was struck in 1741. Other versions were issued throughout her lifetime and continued to be minted after her death in 1780 (although all such coins always carried this 1780 date and show her as a much older woman). Indeed, they are still being minted in small numbers today as collectors? items.

The Maria Theresa thaler became a trade coin used not only in Ethiopia but more widely throughout much of Arabia and the Horn of Africa. It also circulated in the Americas and as far east as China.

It is a fairly large coin (39.5mm diameter) and was prized for its consistent silver content (833.3 parts per thousand, the coin having a weight of 28.0668 grams). Forgery was said to be very difficult (if not impossible) because the design was so intricate and finely engraved. Additionally, an elaborate edge inscription posed problems to a would-be forger. It is said that the number of pearls in the Empress?s brooch were often counted to make sure that the thaler was genuine.

Clara Semple concluded her lecture with a photo of a cigarette lighter made apparently from recycled military hardware and inset with a thaler. It bears the inscription ?GP Ransome, Asmara 1948? and if anyone knows more about this unique item, or its owner, Clara would be delighted to hear from you.

Clara has published her research as A Silver Legend: the story of the Maria Theresa Thaler (ISBN: 0954970101) ? a beautifully illustrated book and highly recommended ? it expands most magnificently on the lecture.

Edited by Monkey King

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