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The Thomas Würtenberger Collection

The important new acquisition "Ius in nummis. The Thomas Würtenberger Collection" forms the occasion and content of the special exhibition of the Numismatic Collection in the Bode Museum on Museum Island.

„Der Friede ruft die Gerechtigkeit wieder auf den Plan“ – Abraham Abramsons Medaille auf den Frieden von Amiens im Jahr 1802 befindet sich inhaltlich und chronologisch in medias res der Sammlung „Ius in nummis“.
„Der Friede ruft die Gerechtigkeit wieder auf den Plan“ – Abraham Abramsons Medaille auf den Frieden von Amiens im Jahr 1802 befindet sich inhaltlich und chronologisch in medias res der Sammlung „Ius in nummis“. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett, ex Slg. Thomas Würtenberger / Johannes Eberhardt

"Ius in nummis. The Thomas Würtenberger Collection" is unique in its breadth.
It was assembled over the period of half a century and comprises more than 3,000 objects - primarily medals and some coins - with a focus on the modern legal history of Western Europe in an increasingly global perspective. Each object thereby opens up a piece of the legal past.

Iūs, iūris, n. means, among other things, law. Rules and laws have regulated and permeated people's everyday lives for thousands of years. Law and justice form dynamic areas of tension. Legal acts and conceptions of law emanate from individuals. The rule of law and the rule of injustice or the constitutional state and arbitrary rule remind us of the consequences of lived value systems. Legal history uses a wide variety of sources to explore events such as legal decisions and legal acts, as well as individual legal persons and legal cultures.

nummus -ī, m. actually denotes coins and pieces of money, but it has proven useful to also include a related medium under this term: the medal. For legal archaeology it offers a rich primary source. From Moses to human rights, medallic art opens up a broad panorama of the staging of law.

The exhibition "Ius in nummis": A collection overview in twelve segments

The Münzkabinett has set itself the task of preserving the Würtenberger Collection and making it accessible. The digital recording since 2020 is the prerequisite for the first systematic indexing of this cultural asset. The exhibition, catalog, and accompanying program are closely related to ongoing research on this important new acquisition. First of all, the question of the special collection "Ius in nummis" will be presented. But not least, the knowledge potential of numismatic sources for the history of law will be further explored.

Largely preserved, numismatic objects show the almost complete picture of a successful cultural technique. Depending on the materiality and edition, they record persons, things and events exclusively or for everyone. As mobile and enduring media, medals can pass from person to person across political, religious and cultural barriers. And sometimes the surfaces of these handy monuments tell of eventful object histories.

The exhibition offers an initial orientation within the thematically, geographically, and diachronically diverse holdings. Twelve segments present an overview of the collection based on focal points. From symbols, individuals, structures, and institutions to revolutions and constitutional issues, the exhibition continues to compare current topics in the medal circuit.

Perspectives on questions of law and justice

An edition of the Berlin Medailleur Circle created especially for "Ius in nummis" flanks the exhibition. Current perspectives on the large and small questions of law and justice comment on the exhibition themes in the medal round. The Berlin Medailleur Circle as well as members of the German Society for Medal Art are involved.

An accompanying volume will be published for the exhibition.

  • A special exhibition of the Numismatic Collection of the National Museums in Berlin

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