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Vienna Coin Cabinet: a Christmas Gift
Brandon Frei WINS #868

My family and I recently took a trip to Vienna, Austria and my wife was kind enough to buy me a ticket to the Art History Museum. At first I wasn't very excited, being that I'm not that into art. That was until I realized that this particular museum holds one of the five largest coin collections in the world with over 600,000 objects spanning three millennia. The beauty of the ticket was she also gave me some "me time" to go to the exhibit alone (she watched our kids) and enjoy the exhibit. We went there on Christmas day and being there is like being a kid in a candy shop. You want everything but can't afford any of it.

Here is a quick background: Ferdinand I (1500s) was the first recorded Austrian to collect coins and the collection was brought together under Charles VI. There were several other royals who added to the collection, most notably Emperor Francis I Stephen of Lorraine (Maria Theresia's husband). The Vienna Coin Cabinet has been in the Kunst Historisches Museum since 1900.


At the entrance I found some dies made for various coins struck in Austria, to include Maria Theresia Thaler dies. I've not had the pleasure of seeing many non-canceled dies so this was a unique experience. You'll have to forgive my lack of photos and photo skills. I was so busy reading everything and listening to the audio guide.


The first room or hall was filled with coins and medals from around the world. The first case I saw in the middle was filled with medals. Apparently, medals originated from Italy in the 1400s. Admittedly, I'm not a huge medal fan, or rather, there are so many coins on my want list, that medals are a fun to look at, but not a passion of mine. There are just so many! These medals were definitely impressive, but there was so much to see, I didn't linger long there.

first hall

The next exhibit I came to was the invention of coins. They date all the way back to 650 B.C. and were minted in electrum (a natural mix/alloy of gold and silver). I didn't get great photos, but they all came from Greece's Mediterranean region. The turtle coin, struck somewhere between 650 and 550 B.C. in Aigina (center top) stuck out to me the most from this group.

Greek coins

I found so many really interesting things, but I don't want to give it all away just yet! I'll share some of my findings in the next article I write. I will say that I was disappointed that I could not buy any type of coins at the gift shop. I found a few in there that I'd love to even own a copy of. Until my next article, here's their website in case you want to do a little sleuthing of your own. What's really cool about the online catalog where you can look at all the objects they have.


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