In the 17th century, 336 death sentences were passed in Zurich, 11 of them for forgery. The condemned faced execution by hanging, drowning or beheading. However, innumerable resolutions and orders enacted in Zurich during the 18th century testify, that it was unachievable to put an end to forgery. But the death penalty was only rarely inflicted; forgers were often merely branded with a hot iron, whipped and then banished from the city.
This ducat is the work of the Zurich engraver Hans Jakob Gessner I, whose dies were of such high artistic quality, that a forger would have had difficulties to copy them. The imitation of the coin dies was the most difficult aspect of counterfeiting. Everything else – the casting of the coins from base metals like lead, tin or brass, the minting and the covering of the pieces with gold or silver – was mere handwork.