Lutz Ilisch celebrates his 65th birthday

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Annika Backe

July 9, 2015 – On July 2, 2015, Lutz Ilisch celebrated his 65th birthday. On an international scale, he counts among the leading numismatists – he may even be the most famous professional – in the field of Islamic coins. It is thanks to him alone that Tübingen today has its own collection of and research center for Islamic coins.

Lutz Ilisch started just as many other academics: he attended the seminar of Peter Berghaus. What he did next, though, is rather unusual for a German professional. As a side-job, he worked in the Münzgalerie München. Part of the job was editing the Münstersche Numismatische Zeitung, which continues to be published by the Münzgalerie München as part of its stock list.

Lutz Ilisch had his master’s thesis, which he had submitted in 1979, on coin donations and donative coins in the Islamic world, published in that very journal.
After graduating from university in 1984, Lutz Ilisch was appointed assistant of Bernhard Schulte at Münzen und Medaillen AG, in the field of early modern coins. This was by no means the first time he came into contact with many dealers and collectors who shared his interest in Islamic coinage. 

Thanks to funds granted by the Volkswagen Foundation, he managed to acquire the then most important collection of Islamic coins, from American coin dealer Stephen Album, for Tübingen in 1990. Tübingen then opened the Research Center for Islamic Numismatics with Lutz Ilisch as head. In this capacity, he is currently curator of a collection comprising about 65,000 coins. That makes the Tübingen collection one of the largest in the world, on a par with the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or the ANS in New York.

A great many professionals, museum curators, coin dealers and coin collectors approach the all-knowing, oracle-like birthday boy with questions and appreciate his vast knowledge. Lutz Ilisch is one of those kind people who quite willingly provide quite detailed information, and very quickly at that. In every line of his e-mails his passion for his profession becomes apparent, though he always keeps in mind that the world is full of people who are lost only when they look at an Islamic coin’s inscription.

CoinsWeekly wishes Lutz Ilisch only the best on his birthday. As for the numismatic world: Let us hope that he will write the comprehensive reference work on Islamic numismatics very soon and thus pass on his infinite knowledge in that field to us!

If you like to send Lutz Ilisch your personal birthday greetings, just click here.