Holy Roman Empire, Walter II of Arnstein, Bracteate

Around 1150, Walter II of Arnstein (1135-1166) began minting coins in Hettstedt. His die-sinker was none other than Erhard of Elhar, who is often held for one of the founders of the art of bracteates. The artist certainly deserves this commendation, because his dies distinguished themselves by their clear composition. Elhar always surrounded his designs with a strong ring, and filled empty spaces in the coin's field with little ornaments. The artist was also working for other mint authorities – possibly even for the powerful Albert the Bear of Brandenburg. This pfennig from Hettstedt depicts the eagle of Arnstein over a large arch with two sideways towers. Within the arch is a palmette, and the space next to the eagle is filled with rosettes and square marks. The whole design is enclosed by a sharp-cut circle – one of Elhar's typical compositions thus.