Blind Coin Collector

It's another kind of fun to collect coins if you can't see them.

Vienna Coin Collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

| Filed under Museum Travel

It was rather unusual that after my last trip I knew where I would be going in a month. This time, I had an opportunity to prepare a little more. The next stop was Vienna, I visited the Art Museum’s coin collection.

As always, late arrangements, since I had to wait until I got my tickets to know when I will have free time. Fortunately, Andrea Spinka wrote back immediately and offered me a personal introduction to the collection.

I had a better idea about Austrian coins than about the Irish ones, but to get ready for the experience, on the way to Austria I was reading a book about Austrian coins. However, I had no idea what Andrea was going to show me, which is great, I’d rather have what they think is important or easier to show than very specific requests which are difficult to meet. I got this right again, this works out best.

Coming from the snowy Cleveland, it was wonderful to walk the streets of Vienna in a shirt, so I decided that instead of taking a taxi, I’d just walk about a mile to the museum. Well, since I didn’t have good directions, it was much more, but it was worth it. One can’t go wrong walking in Vienna, enjoying the weather, a coffee here and there, the blend of cultures, and of course, the beauty of the German language, which I definitely needed to refresh a bit, as I haven’t used it for about 20 years aside from a few airport transfers.

Since I had no idea how long it will take to get there, I arrived way too early, but Andrea was very flexible to meet me as soon as I arrived. First, she introduced me to the director of the collection, DR. MICHAEL ALRAM, who is a numismatist with an impressive educational background.

Andrea brought out two major groups of objects. The first one was a set of Greek replicas, and the second was a collection of medals.

You might wonder, why exactly Greek coins. Well, the museum hosts a royal collection, which contains Greek coins. The replicas were interesting, they weren’t exact coin replicas, but the two sides of a coin were created separately, so holding the two pieces would make one coin. I particularly liked how clear and elaborate were the designs. It is only my guess, but probably the replicas are much easier to feel than the originals. My favorite was the coin with Alexander the Great. I really enjoyed that while Andrea explained the coins to me, she has challenged me to figure out what each one of them would be.

holding a medal

And then came the surprise. The medals. Mostly centered about Maria Theresa, her coronation medal, and some later ones with her children. I have never put one thought into medals, new or old. I always thought of myself as a coin collector, and I never learned anything about them. Well, this is why I wasn’t aware of the obvious: metals are much bigger than coins. Thus, they are much easier to feel, and figure out what’s on them. If they asked me if I wanted to feel some medals, probably I would have said no. No, actually I would have been happy to live my life without touching a medal. Big mistake. Now I have something else to learn about. It was just fascinating. They almost feel like coins, but much bigger. Ok, it is impossible to collect everything, and I’m not saying that just because I touched a few medals I will add them to my collection. However, this is definitely something I would like to learn more about, and possibly feel many more of them.

One more time, a wonderful experience. I had such a great time, I learned a lot, and gained some new experiences. I also have to mention that I didn’t even realize that the museum wasn’t officially opened on Monday. When I wrote to Andrea, given the very limited time I had, I asked her to arrange this tour for me for a Monday afternoon, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to stop by. The only way I found out that the museum wasn’t open was because I wanted to go to the book store and it was closed. Thank you so much for accommodating my schedule, I really appreciate it!

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