The Numismatic Collection is one of the largest collections of its kind with around 500,000 objects. The collection owes its international renown to its rich diversity as well as the comprehensiveness of its coin series.
The Numismatic Collection is one of the largest collections of its kind with around 500,000 objects. The collection owes its international renown to its rich diversity as well as the comprehensiveness of its coin series, ranging from the beginnings of coinage in the seventh century BC in Asia Minor to the coins and medals of the twentieth century. The Numismatic Collection first went on display in 1830 in the Altes Museum and moved to the new Bode-Museum in 1904. In October 2004, right on time for the one hundredth anniversary, the Numismatic Collection was the first collection to reopen in the restored Bode-Museum, whose complete reopening takes place October 21st, 2006. Parts of its large coin collection are on show in the Pergamon Museum, the Altes Museum and the Museum for Pre- and Early History.
Some of the most significant areas within the collection include: 102,000 Greek coins and about 50,000 from ancient Rome; 160,00 European coins from the Middle Ages to modern times and 35,000 Oriental-Islamic coins. There are also 25,000 examples of medals, the art of which began developing around 1400 AD. Usually bearing a relief depiction, these medals were issued for special occasions or in honour of a historical personality, as they still are to this day.
Apart from the coins and medals, the collection also contains paper money, historical seals dating from the Middle Ages, and examples of different forms of money used by primitive peoples. In addition there are minting tools including 10,000 dies, with which coins were struck in Berlin from the 17th century onwards, as well as a large collection of casts.
However, these numbers say very little about the true nature of the collection. Apart from a significant number of extremely rare items, the collection acquired its leading status primarily from the comprehensiveness of the series it owns. The motifs on the coins are highly varied and themes tend to reappear throughout the centuries. Images include religious themes from ancient mythology and Christian beliefs, coats of arms, animals, plants, buildings and famous personalities.
The concept of the museum, which was originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, can be traced back to Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, who published her ideas in a memorandum in 1883. It was Wilhelm von Bode who finally put these ground-breaking ideas into practice. In 1897, construction work began at the northern tip of the Museum Island on a museum that was to be devoted to the Renaissance, designed by Eberhard von Ihne. Once completed, the museum would bear the name of Empress Victoria’s deceased husband, Kaiser (Emperor) Friedrich, who died in 1888. When the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum opened in 1904, painting and sculpture, considered at the time as the ‘high arts’, were for the first time presented side by side on an equal footing with each other - a presentation strategy that differed radically from that of traditional museums.