In terms of German Euro coins, there are five mint marks; A, D, F, G and J. Much of the questions surrounding this arrangement has centered on the seemingly arbitrary letters which are used. They certainly serve no purpose in identifying the mint city by way of abbreviation since Berlin has no 'A' in its name or alphabetically since the mint mark 'G' is used for Karlsruhe and 'J' is used for Hamburg. So why are such random letters * to represent the German mints?
Prior to the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, 8 of the 26 constituent administrative regions, which were eventually incorporated to form the German Empire, had their own mint houses. These states consisted of 4 kingdoms, 6 grand duchies, 5 duchies, 7 principalities, 3 free cities and 1 imperial territory and were placed into the constitution in this order.
The eight states had a combined total of ten mint houses (one was established after 1871) and were each * a letter corresponding to the order in which their region was listed in the new constitution.
The first to be listed was the Kingdom of Prussia. This territory had three mint houses which were previously * letters corresponding to the chronological establishment of the facilities. Berlin was given the designation of 'A'; Hannover, 'B'; Frankfurt, 'C'.
The second was the Kingdom of Bavaria whose mint house, * the letter 'D', was located in Munich. The third was the Kingdom of Saxony whose mint house, * the letter 'E', was located in Dresden until 1887 when damage caused by the May Uprising (nearly 50 years earlier) led to a fire and irreparable damage to the facility. Production was moved to the city of Muldenhütten, which retained the 'E' designation. The fourth was the Kingdom of Württemberg whose mint house, * the letter 'F', was located in Stuttgart.
The fifth to be listed was the Grand Duchy of Baden whose mint house was located in Karlsruhe and * the letter 'G'. The fifth to be listed was the Grand Duchy of Hesse whose mint house was located in Darmstadt and * the letter 'H'.
There is no 'I' designation because it could have been easily confused with the letter 'J'.
No other mint houses were in any of the next eighteen states. The twenty-fourth to be listed in the 1871 constitution of the German Empire was the Free City of Hamburg whose mint house was * the letter 'J'.
The remaining mint house was located in the Imperial Territory Elsaß-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine), listed twenty-sixth and last. The mint house in this state was located in * (Strasbourg) and given the designation 'K'.
No coin production took place at the * facility under the auspices of the German Empire. According to a local official in present day Strasbourg, the facility was staffed by French nationals who were forced under a German director to repair damage to the facility, resulting from Prussian bombing during the Franco-Prussian war in the previous year, which eventually led to German annexation. The French employees, in protest of German control, artificially inflated the actual damage to the facility and insisted at times that reparations were impossible or would take years to complete. In fact, several employees took to sabotage in order to further delay production. The onset of World War I delayed the repairs even more and by the time France eventually re-took administration of the region in 1918 via the Treaty of Versailles, the facility was far from a working mint house.
The facility went into a brief period of French coin production before the 1940 Nazi invasion again shut the facility down. Nazi Germany had little interest in the facility as a mint house and it did not produce coins during World War II either.
The Hannover mint house (B) was closed in 1878, but the designation 'B' was given to the Vienna mint house during the Nazi German occupation of Austria from 1938-1945.
In summary, the following is a list of German mint houses that have been or still are in use today along with their corresponding designation and years of operation:
|A||Berlin (1871- present)|
|B||Wien (Vienna) (1938-1945)|
|D||München (Munich) (1872- present)|
|F||Stuttgart (1872- present)|
|G||Karlsruhe (1872- present)|
|J||Hamburg (1875- present)|
|K||* (never produced German coins)|