The hobby of coin collecting has been practiced since antiquity. This type of collecting was not only to accumulate great wealth but also to display an appreciation of the intricacies of engraving art. These collections of coins were often stored in large wooden cabinets during the post-Renaissance years, and many national collections in Europe are still referred to as “coin cabinets” by modern numismatists.
Founded circa 1530, the Münzkabinett, or Coin Cabinet of Dresden is one of Europe’s largest-scale numismatic collections, as well as one of the oldest museums in Germany. Currently, over 300,000 items call the cabinet home—from ancient coinage to minting equipment and historic documents, only a tenth of which are on permanent display.
The public portion of the coin cabinet is housed in the museum at Dresden Castle and consists of coins, banknotes, medals, seals, counterfeits, primitive forms of money, and minting equipment from the ancient Greco-Roman world to the modern European Union. These exhibits focus especially on the monetary history of Saxony and Germany in general.
In addition to research facilities and five centuries’ worth of artifacts, the Münzkabinett also possesses legal claim to any hoard of coins excavated on the Saxon territory, whose soil is rich in such hidden treasure. Coin hoards are now worth more than their bullion values when melted down, as they provide a good glimpse into the past.