The numismatic collection at the Staatliche Museum in Berlin is exceptional. The collection contains some of the most beautiful coins, in excellent condition, from all ages of antiquity.
Amongst the most significant holdings of the collection are 102,000 coins from ancient Greece and about 50,000 Roman coins, as well as 169,000 European coins from the Middle Ages and the modern era, and 30,000 Islamic and oriental coins. The Münzkabinett also owns 32,000 medals, an art form that developed in the 15th century.
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The first coin is a Naxos minted coin circa 461-430 BCE featuring the Roman god of mirth and excess, Dionysus. It’s a silver Tetradrachm from Sicily that weighs 17.07 grams and has a 29mm diameter.
The obverse shows Dionysus with an ivy crown and a beard extending beyond the pearl surround. The reverse shows a silen, a mythical tailed creature. Silen are close in myth-history to the wild-creatures like satyres. These wild-creatures were slaves to their urges, thus representing the excess aspect of Dionysus. The ithyphallic nude silen is seated, looking at a kantharos, a drinking vessel, in his right hand.
The second coin is actually a Persian coin pendant. The loop at the top of the coin was added in antiquity. It’s so neat for us to find ancient coin pendants. We feel more connected to the past every time we come across such a treat! This coin pendant is 23mm across and weighs 4.39 grams. Just the gold value of this coin in today’s money is $247.77, but the actual value of this antiquity, in this condition is far greater.
This gold Dinar was minted under the rule of the last Sasanian Shah in the year 622 or 623CE. The obverse of this coin pendant shows a forward facing, crowned and draped bust of Khosrow II surrounded by text that translates from Middle Persian to read, “The royal splendor has been increased.” On the reverse, Khosrow II is in full view, holding his sword in a resting position. The surrounding legend translates to, “Freeing Iran from fear – Khusro (year) 33.”
The third and last coin we are discussing today is a gold, 15 ducats from Eastern Prussia with the bust of Friedrich Wilhelm on the obverse. This coin was minted from 1640 to 1688 and has a whopping 51mm diameter. This is a big coin; it’s just over two inches across and it weighs 51.65 grams. In today’s market this coin’s gold value is about $2,914.61. While 15 ducats are equal in value to $0.008379. My how currencies change! Of course the actual value of this coin is much greater as it is in about uncirculated condition.
The obverse of the coin is ornately decorated with a wreath of 23 interlocking coats of arms separated from a central rose by a beaded garland. The open rose is seen from above, and contains a Fleur-de-lis scepter shield at its center. Both sides of the coin are surrounded with a rope edge embellishment.
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Check out the entire Münzkabinett collection online at the SMB Digital Online Collections Database.