Peter Nikolaus Schulten, M.A. (1936-2016)

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by Fritz Rudolf Künker
translated by Annika Backe

May 19, 2016 – The life of numismatist Peter N. Schulten had many facets. While his father Wolfgang Schulten (1904-1996), a devoted coin collector, had kindled his interest in numismatics while he was still young, he inherited the love for music and literature from his mother. Through his uncle Prof Hans Schulten (1899-1965), Full Professor for Internal Medicine at the University of Cologne for many years, he was also exposed to other, positive influences that sparked a deeper interest in archeology and, in particular, the ancient world.

Peter N. Schulten (1936-2016).

Peter Schulten had been born into a family of merchants and physicians of a conservative orientation. Already his grand-father had worked as a doctor in Wuppertal, and his father Wolfgang had been a senior executive in a Wuppertal-based textile company. His father’s true passion, however, was numismatics, and even after he had already retired, he formed part of the staff of the coin houses Dr. Busso Peus in Frankfurt and the Münz Zentrum Albrecht und Hoffmann GmbH in Cologne. In his capacity as a numismatist, Wolfgang Schulten set a monument for himself with his book on the coinage of Charles V (“Deutsche Münzen aus der Zeit Karls V.”, Frankfurt am Main 1974).
The Schulten family lived in Denklingen in the Bergischer Kreis, not far from the city of Gummersbach. Peter Schulten who had two brothers – one of whom died while still a child – took his high-school diploma in Waldbröhl. His younger brother Heiner became a specialist surgeon.

It was probably thanks to the influence of his uncle Professor Hans Schulten that Peter, after graduating from school, began to study Classical Archeology in Munich with Prof Ernst Buschor (1886-1961), who was one of the most influential archaeologists of his time.
After this academic excursion into archeology, an absolute professional reorientation followed suit. Peter Schulten studied at the Teacher Training College in Wuppertal and became an elementary school teacher.
Sometime around 1960, the Cologne coin dealer Heinrich Pilartz won Peter Schulte as employee. Pilartz being a professional goldsmith, a young colleague with a scientific interest was the ideal complement to the well-known Cologne-based coin house Pilartz.
In those years, Schulten also worked on his Master’s thesis and studied with Prof H. Kähler in Cologne. In the winter term of 1967, the University of Cologne accepted his Master’s thesis. The work was entitled “Die Typologie der römischen Konsekrationsprägungen” and was published, in expanded form, by the Numismatischer Verlag P.N. Schulten in 1979 (“Die Typologie der römischen Konsekrationsprägungen”, Frankfurt am Main 1979).

A few years later, he got the chance to take over the Frankfurt-based coin house Dr. Busso Peus, together with Dieter Raab (1967).
Under the management of Dieter Raab and Peter N. Schulten, Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger soon became one of the leading coin houses in Germany. That was partly thanks to superbly prepared auction sale catalogs, of which the 1970 and 1971 auctions of the collection of the Hamburg lawyer Dr Werner Koch deserve special mentioning.

As early as 1973, the colleagues Schulten and Raab went separate ways, and Peter N. Schulten became partner at the Cologne Münzzentrum Albrecht und Hoffmann GmbH. But even in this constellation, it became apparent only after a few years that in the trade – as in other branches – partnerships are by no means easy.

Since 1978, therefore, Peter N. Schulten followed his own path, in Frankfurt am Main from 1978 to 1983. In addition to auction sales, his fields of activity included a specialist bookstore and a publishing house for numismatic literature. In 1983, the company moved to Cologne and was located in the former premises of the coin house Heinrich Pilartz in the ‘Klingelpütz’ – also a synonym for the near-by prison, this address is well-known to everyone living in Cologne.
Even though Peter N. Schulten was held in high esteem by his customers and the auction sale catalogs were prepared with great commitment, business success fell short of expectations. At the final auction sale conducted on October 16, 1990, Münzenhandlung Schulten + Co auctioned off its own library. Both in Germany and on an international level, this well-kept object attracted wide interest.

Late in 1990, Peter N. Schulten stopped working independently and, at the beginning of 1991, became employee of the coin house Fritz Rudolf Künker in Osnabrück. The Künker company owes a lot to him, not only the successful establishment of a department for ancient coins. Schulten also engaged in the training of the young staff members and enlarged the company’s library carefully and consistently. As a result, Künker possess one of the world’s largest numismatic libraries.

Apart from his activities for the Künker company, he wrote the standard work of reference on the coinage of Hohnstein, therewith closing a gap in German numismatics (“Die Münzen der Grafen von Hohnstein von den ersten Anfängen im Mittelalter bis zum Aussterben des gräflichen Hauses 1593“, Osnabrück 1997). He is also the author of a publication on the Roman mint of Trier (“Die römische Münzstätte Trier von der Wiederaufnahme ihrer Tätigkeit unter Diocletian bis zum Ende der Folles-Prägung“, Frankfurt am Main 1974).
Accompanying his long career as a coin dealer, Peter N. Schulten held honorary offices and worked on the board of the Association of German Coin Dealers (Verband der deutschen Münzenhändler) as well as for the international federation AINP. From 1999 to 2007, he acted as publisher of the journal ‘Geldgeschichtliche Nachrichten’, for which he also wrote numerous contributions.

Peter Schulten was certainly a man with a complex character, who was not afraid of experiencing conflicts. On the other hand, he was absolutely straightforward and loyal, and to his customers he was a valuable advisor. We shall remember him as an eloquent and educated interlocutor and a gentleman of the old style. Who was fortunate enough to sit right next to him at one of the numerous auction dinners was impressed with his profound knowledge and his powers of persuasion, but also with his Rhenish humor.
His baroque lifestyle – in France, he might have been called a “bon vivant” – was a typical feature of his, as was his fatalistic attitude towards his own health. Although stemming from a famous family of doctors, he had only little confidence in medical expertise. For a long period of time, he lived life on his own terms, and, even at an advanced age, acted out his thirst for adventure through extended sailing trips.

On May 9, 2016, Peter Nikolaus Schulten died in the Bonn University Hospital after a long period of illness, at the age of 79.