The Eagle on Coins

Imperial Traditions in Modern States

The eagle was not only connected to German imperial tradition, but also to any Western imperial ideology basing its ideas on the Roman Empire. Thus Napoleon Bonaparte sought to establish a French Empire in Europe intended to be as glorious as the Roman Empire. To make his claim evident he not only created a strongly classicising Art style, but he also used the Roman eagle as the arms of his new empire. However Napoleon?s imperial classicism is also based on the classicising fashions of the preceding Enlightenment and Revolutionary era which venerated the Roman Republic as having the ideal constitution. This explains the choice of the eagle as their arms by the newly established United States of America. The Mexican eagle on a cactus, however, refers directly to an Aztec myth about the foundation of Mexico.

Click on links below to see a larger image of the coins (obv for obverse, rev for reverse):

 30.[obv][rev] Austrian Empire, Francis Joseph I (1848-1916), Vereinstaler 1861 and 1866, Vienna mint, A.W. Young bequest/FM.CM. old coll.: Head of emperor/Imperial double-headed eagle.
 31.[obv][rev] German Empire, William II (1888-1918)/Lubeck, 5 Mark 1904, Berlin mint, FM.CM. old coll. (1905): Lubeck?s eagle/Imperial eagle with Hohenzollern arms.
 32.[obv][rev] German Republic, 3 Mark 1922 and 500 Mark 1923 inflation money, FM.CM. old coll.: Legend/uncrowned heraldic eagle.
 33.[obv][rev] Russian Empire, Nicholas I (1825-1855), 3 Rubel 1828 and 1831 platinium, FM.CM.272+273-1961, given by C.E. Tilley: Legend/Russian crowned double-headed eagle.
   34.[rev][obv][rev] French Empire, Napoleon I (emperor 1804-1815), 3 Bronze medals by Droz (obv.), Brenet and Jaley (rev.) on some of Napoleon I's victories 1805, 1807 and 1808, Trinity College coll./C.J. Bunn bequest/FM.CM.57-1965: Head of Napoleon (gilded)/Triumphal quadriga (not visible); eagle on thunderbolt; eagle above throne.
 35.[obv] 2nd French Republic, Louis Napoleon (president 1848-1852, emperor 1852-1870), Gilded bronze medal by Montagny on his presidential election, Trinity College coll.: Head crowned by eagle (!)/Legend (not visible).
 36.[obv][rev] 2nd French Empire, Napoleon III (emperor 1852-1870), 5 France 1869 (2), Strasbourg mint, FM.CM. old coll. and A.W. Young bequest: Head of emperor/Arms with eagle shield.
 37.[rev][obv][rev] United States of America, Dollar 1787, 1799 and 1800, FM.CM. old coll.: Bust of Liberty/Eagle in laurel; heraldic eagle covered with arms.
 38.[obv] United States of America, 5 Dollars 1909, Given by J.W. Goodison: Bust of Indian (not visible)/Eagle.
 39.[obv][rev] Republic of Mexico, 8 Reales 1868 and 1833, FM.CM. old coll.: Phrygian hat/Eagle with serpent on cactus in lake.

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Hosted by the Department of Coins and Medals, Fitzwilliam Museum.