Golden Beggars' Medal 1566

Jacques Jonghelinck.

Image of Philips II

Two joined hands (Compromise of Nobles) and a beggars bag.

Loyal to the monarch to the point of begging.
(French, loosely translated)

Worth knowing
Only two earlier copies are known, one of which is from the Rijksmuseum.

Historic metal detector find Hoorn auctioned

The metal detector is responsible for an abundance of archaeological finds, and occasionally, one gets lucky. At the end of 2019, a 34-year-old man in Hoorn found something in the soil of very high historical value. His metal detector fired on a remarkable gold-colored object. Upon closer examination this turned out to be a golden beggars' medal from 1566. An insignia that was proudly worn by the Dutch insurgents who took on the Spanish King Philip II. The battles of these beggars, nobles led by Hendrik van Brederode, are at the cradle of what is now the Netherlands.

Vendel beggars

Beggars' Medals are not an unknown phenomenon in and of themselves. But usually they are made of base metal and from later dates. An authentic golden Beggars' medal, on the other hand, is very rare. Until this find, only two others were known. One of these is in the possession of the Rijksmuseum. The other is part of a noble collection of a foreign private individual. But the last time anything was written about this was in 1964.

When such a rare historical object turns up, research is called for. Fortunately, the finder went to Heritage Auctions Europe. He had Marcel van der Beek, expert in monetary history and numismatics, investigate the origin. He came to the conclusion that this Beggars' Medal comes from the same studio and mold as that of the Rijksmuseum. The question then remains how it ended up in Hoorn. The Hoorn municipal archaeologist Michiel Bartels has an explanation for this. He thinks that this medal may have been worn by a leader of one of the vendels (military company) beggars who were stationed in Hoorn in 1567.

On display for the public

Commissioned by the finder, Heritage Auctions Europe auctioned the golden Geuzen medal on November 17th, 2020. With such a unique piece, you never know how much it will yield. It turned out to be 40,000 euros, double the starting price! Given the nature of the buyer, who wishes to remain unknown, it can be assumed that the Beggars' Medal will eventually be on display in a museum. 

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