Holy Roman Empire, City of Berne, Haller

It is difficult on fist sight to make out what animal is depicted on this tiny silver coin. Yet if one knows that the coin originates in Berne, it becomes obvious: The image can only be that of a bear, the heraldic animal of Berne.

The coin is a haller, the smallest denomination of the medieval coinage system. Haller – or heller – were divisional coins, needed to compensate for small amounts. The coins purchasing power was minimal, especially compared to the costs of production. To keep those costs as low as possible, the coins were minted on one face only.