Middle Ages

  • Bracteates – the Thinnest Coins of Monetary History (Bracteates were doubtless the most curious and interesting types of coins among the pfennigs of the German Middle Ages. Whereas traditional pfennigs bore different images on obverse and reverse, bracteates were minted on one side only. Bracteates were issued for local circulation. The ephemerality of these coins stood in harsh contrast to their high quality).  
  • The Denarius in the Middle Ages - the Basis for Everyday Money (In France the coin was known as "denier," in Italy as "denaro," in German speaking regions as "Pfennig," in England as "penny," – but in his essence, it always was the denarius, the traditional silver coin of ancient Rome.) 
  • The Solidus - the Dollar of the Middle Ages (It was the symbol of imperial power in Byzantium. Popular and willingly accepted everywhere in the then-known world, it was admired and copied by many kings in many kingdoms. There was no coin that could be compared to it: the Byzantine solidus.) 
  • The Beginnings of Western Finance (During the century between 376 and 476, the Western Roman Empire passed under the political control of various Germanic peoples. In 376, the Visigoths crossed the Danube, and exactly one hundred years later, the Ostrogoths took over power in Rome. During that epoch, the formation of the Christian West began on the ruins of Western Rome. Initially, the migrating tribes basically perpetuated Roman coinage. It was only during Carolingian times that the antique concept on coins and money was overcome. With this Coin Tour, the MoneyMuseum wants to present that development.) 
  • Coins without Illustrations - Islamic Money ("You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind," says the Old Testament. This directive has been interpreted in different ways by the religions that recognize the Ten Commandments as their moral foundation. While most Christian churches don't observe the ban on depicting images, Jews and Muslims largely follow it. This is why Islamic coins bore verses from the Koran for centuries.) 
  • The Medici Family and Their Florence (In Florence, Italy, until the 11th century an old, landholding nobility was in power. But with the upswing of trade, a new elite established – a number of families who had gained richness in the market economy. From those privileged families a few dynasties arose, who would control the fates of the city during centuries to come). 
  • Medieval Currencies (It’s an old wives’ tale that the Middle Ages were dark and gloomy, although most people don’t know much about them. But a look behind the scenes into this fascinating period shows how varied and colourful it really was. And coins, or rather currencies, show that vividly.)  
  • Chinese Currency History from Cowrie to Cash (Around 1500 BC the Chinese used snail shells as means of payment; later the shells were imitated from bone or copper. At about the same time tool coins began to circulate, for instance in the form of little spades and knifes, as well as round coins. In 211 BC the first Chinese emperor began to issue standardized imperial coins, from which the cash coin eventually developed: a round copper coin with a square hole that was issued until the fall of the Chinese Empire in 1911.)
  • Letter to Archduke Sigismund the Rich of Tyrol (1427-1496), who, although belonging to the selfish ruling class, with the taler unintentionally contributed a building-block to the beginning of modern times.
  • Money in the Middle Ages – When the Pfennig Was still Made of Silver... (by Barbara Wolbring; At the time of Charlemagne (742-814), for one pfennig you received two chickens; a woman's linen dress cost as little as eight pfennigs. It was not until 500 years later that the great times were over for the little coin.)
  • Money and barter in the Middle Ages (by Katrin Schär; If one is trying to describe today’s economy, one soon wishes oneself back in the Middle Ages, when the payment for one’s very real sack of grain was a very real knife or a new pair of shoes. Or perhaps a few silver coins, or even gold ones, whose face value fortunately corresponded to their real value. But were things really as simple as that – and were they simple throughout the Middle Ages?)
  • Trade routes in the age of the Renaissance (by Peter Wolf)
  • 17th Century City Tour (by Peter Wolf; How do we exactly know what a city looked like four hundred years ago? Come along this city tour ...).


Signet Sunflower Foundation