A World War II Survivor

This is the first Nazi coin I have ever bought. She isn’t much to look at but she is very interesting.

germany_5reichspfennig_1942_obv germany_5reichspfennig_1942_rev

Zinc is a terrible metal in which to strike coins. Usually this is only done in an emergency, such as when there is a war on and other metals are scarce. Zinc coins are not expected to last long in circulation and this one is way past the end of her design life. The extreme pitting you see is a result of entirely normal zinc corrosion over 74 years. You can find nice examples of this coin but they are the exception. This one is, admittedly, worse than most.

These coins were minted when Germany was deeply enmeshed in World War II. Between 1940 and 1944, thirty-one varieties of this coin were minted at seven different German mints. The very faint “F” mintmark on the reverse, below the “5”, marks this one as a coin made in Stuttgart.

The coin was barely recognisable when I got it. She was entirely black and covered in white zinc oxide powder. What you see here is the result of ultrasonic cleaning followed by a careful treatment with dilute acetic acid. Because it is made of zinc, the coin will look like this for a few hours before it starts to turn black again. She was probably expected to circulate for two, or maybe three years. Now she is an old lady, but reformed, and her weathered character is a perfect illustration in my collection of the hard times of World War II.

(First published on Facebook on 9 April 2016.)

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