At the beginning of August 1911, builders in České Budějovice were carrying out construction works in the "U bílého anděla" house in the heart of the town’s historic centre. In a bricked-up alcove on the first floor of the house, they discovered a hidden treasure of silver and gold coins in a leather pouch. It contained a number of ducats and two-thalers, hundreds of thalers, and other small coins. The owner of the hidden cash was the chemist Georg Seifferheld, owner of the house from 1614 to 1619. No one saves money when it comes to their health, and this was certainly the case in the early 17th century as well. Add to that the reputation of the chemist, and many people were happy to pay extra. In 1617, Georg Seifferheld even received three golden guilders from Archduke Maximilian himself for his successful treatment. He then wrapped the gold coins in the receipt, signed it and stored it away with the cash. But fortune is fickle and unexpected events befall the poor and the rich alike. We will probably never know what happened to the chemist that made him leave his lifelong savings in the walls of his house for many centuries, but we are certain it was not intentional.
After the discovery of the treasure, František Rožánek, a collector from České Budějovice, bought some of the coins from the owner of the house, chemist František Latzel. The coins from his estate, or part of them, ended up in the collection of České Budějovice native Karel Hollschek. The collection was auctioned in 1957 at the Dorotheum in Vienna. After 1911, some of the coins also made their way into other numismatic collections. Two beautifully preserved thalers dated 1597 and 1603 were purchased by the South Bohemian Museum for its collections in 1986 from a witness of the events. In the summer of 1911, he had worked as a helper on the construction site. When he sold the coins at the end of his life, he made no secret of the fact that he had simply stolen them that summer.
The thaler portion of the chemist’s cash contained a striking number of rare thalers of the mintmaster Mattighoffer from the final years of the České Budějovice mint. At least 17 pieces with the year 1597, 22 with the year 1599, 36 with the year 1600, 41 with the year 1603, and others. Until the sale of Hollschek’s collection, the last thalers from České Budějovice were almost rare coins. This is because their production was very limited, as the Rudolfov mines (the only ones supplying silver to the České Budějovice mint) were already in decline at the end of the 16th century. Finally, they were closed completely. After 1600, silver was obtained only by smelting ore from the tailings of old, non-functional mines that were being dug up.
It is well known that the thalers from České Budějovice stored in the pharmacy treasure were generally remarkably well preserved. They probably had not been in circulation for long before they came into the chemist’s possession. The finest of the thalers circulating among collectors, therefore, undoubtedly very often come from the cash kept by George Seifferheld. It is likely that the Mattighoffer thaler dated 1597, which will be auctioned under lot 110, also lay unnoticed for a long time within the walls of the pharmacy. And this won’t be the first time such a coin is auctioned. In our 22nd auction in 2020, we auctioned the beautiful 1603 České Budějovice thaler for the incredible amount of almost EUR 16,000. This thaler probably passed through the hands of the wealthy chemist as well.