Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Geldmuseum of the Deutsche Bundesbank and Chocolate Euro Notes

Yesterday I had a final bit of dental work done following the removal of the wisdom teeth - loving the easy access to health care in Europe, but not so much the dental work per se. Anyway, after seeing the dentist, my head was too full of anesthetic to get any work accomplished. Since Wednesday afternoons officially fall outside of my contractual Dienstzeit at the university, I decided to visit the Geldmuseum (Money Museum) of the Deutsche Bundesbank here in Frankfurt.

Even though I have been in Frankfurt for the better part of the past three years, this was the first time I had visited the museum, which is about a 25-minute walk from the university campus at which I work. I always seemed to forget to go and I never did go on weekends because it is a bit out of the way from where I live and from the city center.

While most people may not have any interest in this little-known museum, numismatists or ancient coin enthusiasts might find the detour off the beaten path worth it. In many ways, it is your typical money museum. Several cases show you how money developed from the electrum coinages in western Turkey up through the modern day. There is a particularly excellent display that demonstrates how modern Euro notes are printed, with examples of the notes, printing plates, papers, holograms, and inks used. There is also a rather interesting medieval coin hoard on exhibit, with the vessel in which it was found, and includes a description of its find context and the information learned from it. (By the way, most all of the signs and descriptions were provided in both German and English). One room in the museum contains glass cases with ancient through modern coins, and this will be the room of greatest interest to anyone interested in ancient coins. They do not have a particularly large collection of ancient coins on display, but there are some rather uncommon and well-preserved specimens. Two EID MAR coins of Brutus were on display (an aureus and a denarius) as was an Athenian dekadrachm. These displays did not relate the previous history of any of these objects. There were also a number of interactive computer displays and learning centers.

It did not appear that photography was permitted in the museum and so I refrained (its is always difficult to photograph coins in cases anyway). The gift shop was also typical of a money museum. One could purchase a large brick of shredded Euro notes, a million Euro worth, for €13,95. There were also some Euro coin proof sets on sale as well as some other coin-related things. The gift shop of the European Central Bank, located in Frankfurt's city center, also sells things like this. I picked up a couple of postcards of coins that are in the collection, but unfortunately there was not a very diverse selection. I also bought some small chocolate Euro notes. Since I did not get to take any photos in the museum itself, I illustrate this post with the chocolates and postcards. A series of scholarly lectures at the museum will be hosted through the summer and begins in April.