The collection of mining coins and medals of Karl Ritter von Ernst

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by Ursula Kampmann
translated by Christina Schlögl

February 16, 2017 – the 6extensive collection of the Technisches Museums Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) entails 1,142 coins, tokens, medals and counters with mining scenes. This large numismatic collection, which most people would rather expect to find in the coin cabinet of the Art History Museum, was probably acquired by the founder of the Technisches Museum, Wilhelm Exner, after the collector’s death. Exner must have met Karl Ritter von Ernst on occasion of the world exhibition in Paris in1878 and knew about his enormous collection. 

Bernhard Prokisch, Die Sammlung von Bergbaugeprägen des Karl Ritter von Ernst. Münzen, Marken, Medaillen, Rechenpfennige und Jetons aus dem 15. bis 20. Jahrhundert. Vienna, Institut für Numismatik und Geldgeschichte, 2016. 474 p., in colour, paperback. 21 x 29.6 cm. ISBN: 978-3-9501987-6-8. Euro 68 plus porto.

Interestingly enough, the knowledge on the origin of the object was lost initially and could only be regained during the scientific examination of the collection by Bernhard Prokisch. He catalogued the large stock of mining incuses and made it available to the numismatic world. Preliminary work was done by students of the Wiener Institut für Numismatik (Vienna institute of numismatics). This alone makes the catalogue something special. Which other university, after all, offers their students such a pragmatic introduction to their field of study.

And now the catalogue is ready. It presents 204 coins, 413 tokens, 292 medals and 233 counters in a perfect scholarly manner. Every item is depicted (in decent quality, albeit not as good as one is used to from current auction catalogues). All numismatic details are given and legends in other languages are translated into German. Occasional remarks offer information on some images and contexts.
The catalogue is a great enrichment, especially considering the counters and tokens, as it exceeds the auction catalogue of the Preussag collection by far. Thus buying this book is beneficial to everyone who has to write auction catalogues. 

The actual catalogue is preceded by an introduction to the collection, to the different numismatic categories – coins, tokens, medals, counters – and last but not least the collector himself. Karl Ritter von Ernst, born in 1833, was leading official at the Wiener Hauptmünzamt (Vienna Mint), before he became director of the imperial-royal Bergwerksprodukten-Verschleiß, a kind of procurement office for mines. At the same time, he was a passionate numismatist and an active member of the numismatic society and published so frequently that his publication list takes up 32 pages of the book. 

It is a very interesting development that in publications like this one, scholars pay their respects to collectors and emphasise their contribution to research. Bernhard von Prokisch has not only commendably published the collection but also memorialised the collector more than a century after his death. 

This memorial can be viewed online, since the Technisches Museum Wien presents parts of their collection online, like that of Karl Ritter von Ernst.

If you would like to put the book in your library in print anyway, you can order it via the Institut für Numismatik in Wien. You will find more information here.
Please use this way, since ordering on Amazon means, that the institute will only receive a fraction of the price (the greater part will go to Amazon). And we would all like to support our only numismatic institute as best we can, wouldn’t we?