«Money in the Roman Republic»

Zurich on its Talers

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Like many other Protestant republics, the city of Zurich was now and again met with the problem of what to depict on its coins. As a republic, it had neither a ruler nor city saints. Most of the Zurich coins therefore show the city's crest, often held by one or two lions. Between 1651 and 1790, the rich trading town on the Limmat River oftentimes portrayed itself by the so-called city view talers.

Zurich issued the first city view talers inspired by Matthäus Merians' illustration of Zurich, published in 1642 in the "Topographia Helvetiae." The prominent buildings are easy to distinguish, on the first talers as well as on later ones. Hence the city view talers illustrate significant architectural changes that have taken place in Zurich in the 140 years these talers were issued – like the construction of the new city wall, which was completed in 1678. Or the renovation of the bell tower of the Grossmünster, which had been destroyed by lightning in 1763; on the city view talers issued in 1790, the new bell towers are prominently displayed.

Zurich on its Talers