Eightieth Birthday of Walter Grasser

Walter Grasser in Montreux.
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On August 21, 2019 Dr Walter Grasser will celebrate his eightieth birthday. A legal scholar and graduated historian, he directed the law department of the municipal administration of Munich, the Bavarian capital city, from 1975 to 1992. Afterwards, he worked as legal counsel for the city’s building directorate. In 1998, he established himself as a freelance lawyer in Munich.

Beyond his main professional engagement, his passion embraced chiefly coins, medals, books and antiquities. As lecturer of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich from 1969 to 1999, he introduced students into the history of currency and coinage in Southern Germany, especially in Bavaria. In 1969, the district government of Upper Bavaria appointed him expert for the scientific and financial assessment of medieval and modern European coins. Besides, he was member of the jury evaluating proposals for the design of German circulation and commemorative coins.

In his numismatic activities Walter Grasser considered himself primarily a mediator between coin museums, dealers and collectors, guided by the idea of bringing together the seriousness of academic scholarship and the enthusiasm of non-professional private collectors.

Dr Grasser’s work on the coinage of Coburg in Upper Franconia, hometown of his ancestors, served as a reference manual for decades. His annotated edition of German monetary acts from 1871 to 1971 still represents a vital source-book, half a century after its first release. Addressing both specialists as well as a wider audience, Grasser published two volumes on Bavarian coins in general and on Bavarian commemorative talers (1980/82). Popular titles on ancient coins, medieval coins, medals, plaquettes and antiques have run into many editions in the late 1970s. With more than 300 articles in daily newspapers, Walter Grasser succeeded in drawing the attention of the general public to antiquarian and numismatic topics.

Recently, he participated in two major book projects on fashionable pieces of jewelry. In cooperation with Franz Hemmerle, Munich-based jeweller of distinction, and art historian Duke Alexander Eugen of Württemberg, a beautifully produced volume on high-quality tie pins was published in 1999. It deals with this classic accessory, popularized in mid-nineteenth century but widely fading from the fashion world later on. Thanks to the aforesaid team of authors and experts the lavishly illustrated, bilingual book “Precious Cufflinks – Kostbare Manschettenknöpfe” was issued in 2016. It summarizes the history of those precious pieces that became common by the end of the nineteenth century. Having disappeared almost completely in the Hippie era of the 1970s, cufflinks experienced a remarkable renaissance in the late 1980s and have remained part of men’s (and woman’s) fashion ever since. As one expects of a study in which Dr Grasser is involved, there are various references to coins: ancient Greek oboloi, Roman denarii and Georgstaler from Kremnica, mounted in gold and elaborately prepared as cufflinks, are shown in this book. Some of these masterpieces came from the famous workshop of Fabergé in St. Petersburg.


We express our heartfelt congratulations to Dr Grasser and wish him all the best.