While the gold standard may have offered unprecedented monetary stability to the world, for much of history most countries in the world were actually on silver standards. China was a silver standard country for most of its history, as as were Spain and its colonies, the United States, and most continental European countries. And a handful of coins dominated world trade during that period. Although the Spanish milled dollar has ceased to be produced, one coin from that period continues in production today: the Maria Theresa thaler.
First minted in 1741, the Maria Theresa thaler quickly became one of the most important silver trade coins in history. The Maria Theresa thaler was one of the most important trade coins in the Middle East and Africa, and its popularity resulted in mintage of the coin in large numbers. Hundreds of millions have been produced at mints around the world, even outside Austria. Non-Austrian mints producing the coin include London, Paris, Rome, and Bombay.
Part of the coin’s popularity was due to its easily recognizable design, featuring the bust of Empress Maria Theresa on the obverse and the Austrian imperial double eagle on the reverse. Variants produced throughout history often include minimal design changes, leading to some being of greater collector interest than others.
All coins produced after Maria Theresa’s death are dated 1780, and the coins are still in production today. Of course, as one of the most popular trade coins in history, the Maria Theresa thaler was also very often counterfeited. You need to be aware of that and make sure that your thalers conform to the proper weight and measurements. Expect to pay premiums of around 60% or so from most reputable sellers.
As with any other former circulating silver coinage, the Maria Theresa thaler is not eligible for investment through a silver IRA or precious metals IRA. But if you want to own a piece of history, you can’t go wrong with the Maria Theresa thaler.
- Purity: 83.3% silver
- Weight: 28.07 g
- Silver Content: 0.7517 troy oz.
- Diameter: 41 mm
- Thickness: 2.5 mm