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L- 611 City of Zwiesel (Bavaria) Zinc 20 Pfennig Coin Depicting Lumberjack with Axe and Saw.



This zinc coin depicting a lumberjack carrying an axe and a saw was issued by the City of Zwiesel and was meant to be used as small change. Zwiesel is a town located in Bavaria, in the heart of the Bavarian Forest, close to the German / Czech Republic border.

The name literally means 'Fork' as it is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Großer Regen (Big Regen) and the Kleiner Regen (Little Regen). They join to form the Schwarzer Regen (Black Regen). The Regen river, which literally translates as the "Rain River", is a tributary to the Danube.

The Regen Valley forms the main valley crossing the Bavarian Forest. The town is situated on the outskirts of the Bavarian Forest National Park (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald) close to the highest mountain in the region, the Großer Arber (Great Arber).

Situated on an ancient trade route called the "Baierweg", Zwiesel developed as a lively and prosperous trading center. The first written mention of the settlement is in a list held by the Abbot Hermann of Niederaltaich in 1254 which mentions the "Zwisler village." The residents of the harsh northern forests were granted market rights in 1312. They were also given "eternal" tax freedom as well as free and unlimited rights to use the forest by Emperor Ludwig (the Bavarian) in 1342. This edict was not repealed until 1808.

Most European cities and towns with such long histories suffer tragedy and Zwiesel has had its fair share. In 1432, the town was besieged by the Hussites and in 1596 it suffered from famine resulting in depopulation. In addition to several accidental fires, the market was set a blaze twice by the Swedes, first in 1633 and again in 1641. In 1649 the town was hit by the plague and then a storm destroyed much of the town and surrounding areas in 1655.

Even with these and other disasters and wars, the city developed rapidly. Glass work started in the town around 1400. By 1421, the first Glassworks, which made beads for rosaries, was established in Rabenstein, a district of Zwiesel. This industry would grow rapidly and soon the town would be renowned as manufacturers of all types of glass. From crystal glass used in the finest restaurants and hotels, to windows, beads and mouth blown glass art, the town would eventually be nicknamed the "Glass City".

The towns motto is Fein Glas, gut Holz sind Zwiesels Stolz or "Fine glass and wood are Zwiesel's pride." Traditional occupations would be glasswork, working wood from the Bavarian forest, carpentry, and brewing. The river and the forest, the mountains, the clean air and unspoiled nature, made the town and its surrounding areas an historically popular area for hunting. It would later become a popular tourist stop and vacation destination for those who enjoy sport and outdoors.

The town was given city status and thrived into the early 20th century. The outbreak of the First World War put an end to this prosperity. Like all German towns at this time there was rapid deterioration of living conditions caused by political turmoil and social unrest. This lead to shortages and the eventual devaluation of the currency. Like most German towns and cities, they created their own emergency money. As early as 1917 the city had minted over half a million coins. This coin is part of a later series (shown below) in 1920 illustrating typical occupations of the time and area.

Series of notgeld minted in 1920 depicting traditional occupations: The top two showing lumberjacks, a carpenter and a glassblower are on the bottom two.

During WWI, Zwiesel was a part of the Kingdom of Bavaria which was in turn a part of the German Empire. Upon the outbreak of war, a young Austrian named Adolf Hitler requested, and was granted, permission to join the Bavarian army. He was eventually assigned to the 16th Reserve Bavarian Infantry Regiment where he served for much of the war. Bavaria was quite tradition minded and conservative and remains that way to this day. Ludwig III, king of Bavaria, was also conservative but became increasingly unpopular as Germanys fortunes in the war turned.

Upon the end of the war and the German Revolution, German royalty was abolished. Ludwig III became the last King of Bavaria and would relinquish his power and end his short reign by signing the Anif declaration. This released both civil and military officers from their royal oaths. Facing increasing pressure Ludwig fled from his Palace with his family. He was the first of the monarchs in the German Empire to be deposed.

From the Holy Roman Empire, to independant Kingdom, to Republic, and finally to the status of a German Free State in 1972. Bavaria (and Zwiesel) remain largely conservative and mindful of tradition. Glass is still a major industry in Modern Zwiesel along with brewing, traditional wood craft and tourism.