The “Ius in nummis” Collection is Donated to the Münzkabinett


To mark the occasion of his 80th birthday on 27 January 2023, Freiburg-based benefactor Prof. Dr Thomas Würtenberger will be donating the third and final instalment of his vast “Ius in nummis” collection, comprising more than 3,000 medallions and coins, to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Münzkabinett. The collection will be on display from 26 May 2023 in a large-scale special exhibition at the Bode-Museum.

The Thomas Würtenberger Collection traces its roots all the way back to the late 1960s. It was during these years that Würtenberger’s father, the criminologist, philosopher of law, and professor of criminal law Prof. Dr Thomas Würtenberger (1907–1989), who taught in Freiburg im Breisgau, began collecting medallions associated with legal history. The oldest items in the collection are from the Renaissance and the 15th century; the most recently fabricated commemorative medallion currently held in the collection was produced in 2022. Geographically speaking, the collection primarily focusses on Western Europe and the American transatlantic region, but in recent years it has also been expanded to encompass a broader range of global perspectives.

The collection, which features medallions relating to lawyers and their specific places of work or which contain symbols used in the world of law, is organised into different sections. The artefacts also encompasses a breadth of different areas of judicial culture, such as constitutions and their drafting process, fundamental civil rights, parliamentarism, international law and international cooperation, while also touching upon the topic of justice and revolution, with the French Revolution of 1789 providing a point of departure here.

The decision to donate the Würtenberger Collection – which comprises more than 3,000 objects and has been gifted to the museum in two previous batches since 2020 – to the Münzkabinett was undertaken in the hope of making it more accessible for research purposes. In order to facilitate this, the contents of the collection will be entered into the Münzkabinett’s interactive catalogue, annotated with numismatic descriptions, and classified using standardised data categories, and gradually published online.

Special Exhibition at the Bode-Museum from May 2023

From 26 May 2023 to 7 April 2024, the Münzkabinett will present the collection to the public for the very first time in the large-scale special exhibition Ius in nummis: The Thomas Würtenberger Collection at the Bode-Museum. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication that will provide detailed information pertaining to the collection and its conceptual foundation.