German Empire

The German Imperium, also called the German Empire, was issued from 1871 to 1918.

The gold coins were issued during the reign of the three German Emperors Wilhelm I., his son Friedrich III. as well as his grandson Wilhelm III. All three German Emperors were also Kings of Prussia.

In addition to the gold coins of the three Emperors with their portrait, there were gold coins in the German Empire from 1871-1918 with three other German Kings and Dukes. These include the Kings of Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg, as well as the Dukes of Baden, Hesse and Hamburg.

After the introduction of the gold standard beginning in 1844 by Great Britain and Portugal and world-wide enforcement around 1870, the mark was regarded as gold-converted currency. The Goldmark coins after the Franco-Prussian War (1870 - 1871) came from melted and newly embossed gold francs. France had to pay war reparations in gold francs to the German Reich.

The gold standard was the first modern currency. Metal currencies, gold, silver, copper and alloys make excellent currency, as they are durable and not easy to multiply. Further, their value is easier to unify. Since gold has a higher value than other metal currencies and is easier to transport and count, the introduction of the gold standard, replacing silver, was responsible for the economic recovery. The decline in grain prices in the middle of the 19th century caused large landowners a lot of debt, and the collapse of silver prices led to inflation and inflation canceled debts.

At the time, trade in Europe was transacted with different types of metal coins, which were also marked with a different fineness depending on the country. This created huge problems since the value of each coin was different and there was no consistent standard.

As as a result, a conference was convened in 1865 by the leaders of European countries, which set a unified standard for trade of different nations. The conference gave birth to the Latin Monetary Union, which existed until the beginning of the First World War.

The gold coins of the German Empire were designated as "crowns" by decree in 1875, whereby the 10-Mark gold piece corresponded to one crown, the 20-Mark gold piece equaled a double crown and the 5-Mark gold piece was equivalent to a half crown. However, this name was mostly used only within government offices. Colloquially, the 20 Mark was also called "Goldfuchs", due to the reddish shimmering alloy, which consists of 10% copper.

Today, the 10-Mark and 20-Mark Gold coins of Prussia, issued during the reign of Wilhelm I and II, are sold as bullion coins and are very popular with collectors. The imperial gold coins have an embossed edge, which is a feature that makes them exceptionally hard to counterfeit.

The value side of the coins has a consistent design and shows the imperial eagle. This theme has been tweaked twice over time. The first change was using the abbreviation "M." instead of "Mark" and secondly, the size of the imperial eagle was enlarged.

The motif page was designed by the states of the German Empire. However, the free cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck, showed their own coat of arms on the reverse side and the portrait of the reigning Emperor on the front side.

German Empire Gold Coins Prussia 1871-1918

The Kingdom of Prussia comprised more than half of the territory of the German Empire, which is why the stamping requirements of the issued circulating gold coins were very high. The most commonly acquired German Empire gold coins today are the 10 and 20 Mark gold coins of Kaiser Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II.

Emperor Frederick III, son of Emperor Wilhelm I and father of William II, died in 1888 after 99 days in office as Emperor. The year 1888 is also referred to as the “Three Emperors” Year due to the rapid succession of Emperors.

Wilhelm I.

Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig of Prussia was King of Prussia from 1861-1888 and German Emperor from 1871 until his death. He was born on 22.03.1797 in Berlin and died on 09.03.1888. He married the Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1829.

Frederick III.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl of Prussia, son of Wilhelm I. was born on 18.10.1831 in Potsdam and died there on 15.06.1888 only 99 days after he succeeded his father as German Emperor.

Wilhelm II

Friedrich Wilhelm Victor Albert of Prussia followed his father Friedrich III. He ascended to the throne of the German Empire in 1888 and held this monarchical office until 1918. Wilhelm II was born on 27.01.1859 in Berlin and died on 04.06.1941 in Doorn in the Netherlands where he had received asylum from Queen Wilhelmina.

From 1871-1918 three German Empire gold coin sizes were in circulation. The coins were officially referred to as “Crowns”. The three sizes included: 5 Mark (Half Crown), 10 Mark (Crown) and 20 Mark (Double Crown) Gold Coins.

5 Marks Gold Coins

The 5-mark gold coin was only minted from 1877 to 1878. The coin did not play a major role in trade, which is why it was minted in small quantities.

The Motif of the 5 Gold Mark 1877 and 1878 editions depicted the portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm I.

Product Specifications:

Fineness 900/100

Weight 1.99g

Fine gold content: 1.79g

Thickness: 0.6mm

Diameter: 17mm

Coin Edge: smooth

10 Marks Gold Coins


1871 to 1888: Portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm I.

1888: Portrait of Emperor Friedrich III.

1888 to 1913: Portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Product specifications

Fineness 900/100

Weight 3.98g

Fine gold content 3.58g

Thickness: 1.0mm

Diameter: 19.5mm

Coin Edge: Arabesques and Stars

20 Marks Gold Coins


1871 to 1888: Portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm I.

1888: Portrait of Emperor Friedrich III.

1888 to 1913: Portrait of Emperor Wilhelm II. And illustration of Kaiser Wilhelm II in uniform

Product specifications

Fineness 900/100

Weight 7.96g

Fine gold content: 7.17g

Thickness: 1.4mm

Diameter: 22.5mm

Coin Edge: GOD WITH US

The imperial gold coins of Prussia were minted in Berlin (A), Hannover (B), Frankfurt (C) and Hamburg (J).

Additional coins of the German Empire with a Portrait of the Regent on the Motif Page are:

5 Marks and 10 Marks Gold coins of King Karl of Württemberg

10 Marks and 20 Marks Gold coins of King William II of Württemberg

10 Marks and 20 Marks Gold coins of King Otto of Bavaria

5 Marks, 10 Marks and 20 Marks Gold coins of King Ludwig II of Bavaria

5 Marks, 10 Marks and 20 Marks Gold coins of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg with coat of arms.

10 Marks Gold Coins from 1872-1888, 10 Marks Gold Coins from 1890-1901 and 20 Marks Gold Coins from 1872-1895 issued under Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden

20 Marks Gold coins 1911-1914 issued under Grand Duke Frederick II of Baden

10 Marks and 20 Marks 1872-1873 Gold coins of King John of Saxony

10 Marks and 20 Marks 1894-1895 Gold coins of King Albert I of Saxony

10 Marks 1902-1904 Gold coins of King George of Saxony

10 Marks and 20 Marks 1904-1918 Gold coins of King Friedrich August III. of Saxony

20 Marks 1890-1915 Gold coin of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hessen


Since there are very good counterfeits on the market, we advise buying from reputable coin dealers. According to various sources, there were 24 counterfeiting production shops that reprinted imperial gold coins.

The best known counterfeits are from Schmidt-Hausmann. In the late 1950s to 1970s, a Bonn ophthalmologist, dr. Schmidt, produced replicas of the Kaiser Reichsmark. His sister initially sold the counterfeits to banks and coin dealers with great success.

In 1960, they founded the company Reichs-Gold-Coins and sold them as counterfeit imperial gold coins. This was possible because of a legal loophole, since according to the law at the time, only the production of current legal tender circulation coins was forbidden.

It is estimated that there are well over 100,000 forgeries from this production shop, with almost every type of Reichsmark gold coin being counterfeited. One recognizes these falsifications easiest by the shine as well as the poor quality of the margin writing.


The price of German Empire gold coins is made up of the gold spot price and the premium. Some of the key factors affecting gold prices are: supply and demand, geopolitical events and central bank policy. Gold buyers should familiarize themselves with these price factors and learn the history of gold.

The premium consists of the cost and margin of the mint and the precious metal dealer. The premium for semi-numismatic coins, such as the Imperial gold coins, may be higher, as the coin often has collector value. However, there are several factors that can influence the premium.

  • The condition of the coin (uncirculated coins usually have a higher markup)

  • The edition of a specific issue. (limited mintages or rare coins often have a higher premium)

  • Supply and demand (coins that are in high demand can sometimes have a higher premium)


Manufacturer: Mints of the German Empire
Country of origin: Germany (German Empire / Prussia)
Fineness: 900/1000
Alloy: Gold/Copper
Sizes: 5 Marks, 10 Marks and 20 Marks Gold Coin
Scratch resistance: Good


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