Classifying Medieval Bracteates

38 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2019 Last revised: 1 Mar 2021

See all articles by Roger Svensson

Roger Svensson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: October 3, 2019


In the Middle Ages, tens of thousands of uni-faced bracteate coins were struck in the period 1140−1520. The existence of hundreds of small independent currency areas with their own mints in central, eastern and northern Europe and the strong link between bracteates and periodic re-coinage explain the large number of bracteate types. The classification and dating of bracteates and other coins can provide insight into economic and monetary development when studying coin hoards and cumulative finds. A central problem when classifying bracteates is that most of them are anonymous, i.e., there are seldom any legends or letters on the coins. In this study, four methods for dating and classifying medieval bracteates are presented: 1) legends and letters; 2) coin finds; 3) regional monetary standards; and 4) social attributes. In most cases, a combination of methods must be used to achieve accurate classification. The last two methods are especially important when legends disappear after the 1230s or when the find information of the coin is lacking.

Keywords: bracteates, classification, Middle Ages, periodic re-coinage, legends, coin finds, regional monetary standards, social attributes

JEL Classification: E40, N13

Suggested Citation

Svensson, Roger, Classifying Medieval Bracteates (October 3, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Roger Svensson (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

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