Generous Donation of the Estate of Coin Counterfeiter Carl Wilhelm Becker to the Münzkabinett


The diaries of Carl Wilhelm Becker (1772–1830), a coin counterfeiter from Speyer, were given to the Münzkabinett by Sparkasse Vorderpfalz on 17 May 2023. With this, more than 500 of Becker’s minting stamps will be reunited with important archival items related to his life, including diaries from the years 1824  to 1830, providing information on the final years of his production.

For some time now, the Münzkabinett has been exploring the topic of counterfeit coins, and in 2024, an exhibition at the Bode-Museum will shine a light on the darker side of numismatics. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Carl Wilhelm Becker’s counterfeit coins deceived a great deal of collectors, even making their way into the collection of the Münzkabinett.

On the History of the Estate of Carl Wilhelm Becker

These archival items have had an eventful history. Carl Wilhelm Becker married Margarethe Christina Sattler (1793–1867) in 1826, and she then passed the contents of the estate on to their daughter Elise Becker (1826–1912). In 1911, Elise Becker gave her father’s minting tools to the Saalburg, from where they were transferred to the Royal Museums in Berlin at the behest of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Elise bequeathed the diaries and other archival items to her step-nephew Georg Lucas (1865–1930), which saw them move to Berlin. Georg Lucas then passed the diaries and other writings down to his daughter, Johanna Lucas (1895–1986), who likewise lived in Berlin. It is likely that she then passed the items on to Wolfgang Haney (1924–2017), who was chair of the organisation Berliner Münzfreunde e. V. for 30 years, and was well known in West Berlin as a collector of numismatic artefacts.

Wolfgang Haney and the chair of Kreis- und Stadtsparkasse Speyer worked together to secure the archival items for the public, and from 21 April to 15 May 1997, Kreis- und Stadtsparkasse Speyer held the exhibition Der Münzenfälscher Carl Wilhelm Becker (The Coin Counterfeiter Carl Wilhelm Becker).

Transfer to the Münzkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Sparkasse Vorderpfalz and the Numismatische Gesellschaft Speyer decided that the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Münzkabinett would be the appropriate institution for the permanent preservation of these objects. The transfer of Carl Wilhelm Becker’s estate to the Münzkabinett took place on 17 May 2023 at Sparkasse Vorderpfalz in Speyer.

The diaries of Carl Wilhelm Becker are now reunited with Becker’s minting tools and other archival materials at the Münzkabinett. The collection, comprising counterfeit coins, minting stamps and the diaries of the counterfeiter, offer a solid foundation for research in the field, will be used for educational purposes, and also be made accessible to the public.