Holy Roman Empire, Bishopric of Halberstadt, Gero of Schermbke, Bracteate

On this penny we see Saint Stephan, the patron of the bishopric of Halberstadt. Stephan is sitting on a folding chair embellished with lion's heads, holding a maniple (a liturgical vestment not in use anymore). Such thin pennies, stamped only on one side, are called bracteates today (after Lat. bractea = thin brass). They emerged after a coin deterioration in the second half of the 11th century. At that time the coin flans had become so thin that the stamp on the obverse pushed through on the reverse, and vise versa. Since the coin image was not recognizable any more, the coins were henceforth only stamped on one side.