Theodor Mommsen’s Nobel Prize to appear at auction

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December 7, 2017 – The world’s oldest Nobel Prize ever offered at auction – awarded in 1902 to German scholar Theodor Mommsen for Advancements in Literature – is expected to sell for $300,000 with Heritage Auctions Jan. 7-8 in New York.
The Nobel Prize will cross the block at no reserve during Heritage’s annual World Coin Auction held in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention. The auction takes place at New York’s Hyatt at Grand Central Station. Awarded a year before his death, the early rare gold medal award marked Mommsen’s contributions and research on ancient Roman civilizations, said Marc Emory, Director of Heritage Auctions’ European Operations.
“Since the Nobel Prize was established in 1895, this is one of the earliest, if not THE earliest Nobel Prize medals ever offered at public auction,” Emory said. “Not only is it rare for Nobel Prize gold medals to appear at auction, it is particularly important when one is bestowed on one of humanity’s greatest minds.”

Nobel Prize for Advancement in Literature, awarded to Theodor Mommsen in 1902.

Mommsen spent his life fascinated with history – especially that of ancient Rome. His research remains the foundation of today’s knowledge of the ancient civilization. Considered “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing,” Mommsen’s greatest literature achievement was ‘Römische Geschichte’ (History of Rome), a three-volume work published between 1854 and 1856, covering the history of the Roman Republic through Caesar’s dictatorship.

He published more than 1,500 works, had 16 children and even left American humorist and author Mark Twain star struck when the two met in 1892.

Theodor Mommsen. Painting by Ludwig Knaus, 1881.

“Mommsen also laid a critical groundwork in the sphere of Roman numismatics,” Emory said, “establishing the ‘Zeitschrift für Numismatik’ – a journal devoted to Roman coinage whose publications have been cited extensively by The Roman Imperial Coinage, the chief reference in the field. He also published publishing the fundamental ‘Über das Römische Münzwesen’ (History of the Roman Coinage), which helped form the foundations of the modern study of numismatics.”

More information on the 1902 Nobel Prize to be auctioned can be obtained from the Heritage Auctions website.

There you will also find all there is to know about the upcoming World Coin Auction.

Here’s what Mark Twain had to say about him.

For further biographical details of Theodor Mommsen visit

To read Theodor Mommsen’s “History of Rome”, go to the Projekt Gutenberg website.

The University of Tübingen offers an online exhibition on medals featuring Mommsen.

Heritage Auctions has sold several Nobel Prize gold medals in recent years, achieving more than $2.2 million for Francis H. C. Crick’s Nobel Prize Medal and Nobel Diploma awarded for discoveries in human DNA. Additional medals have realized six-figures auction values, awarded for important contributions to the fields of Chemistry, Physics and Medicine. For more information click here.