On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Coin Cabinet presents a selection of its rich holdings of medals and commemorative coins to important events and protagonists of the world-historical event, which took its starting point in the Wittenberg in Saxony in 1517.
As a momentous turning point in history, the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther marks the beginning of a new era, in which the transition from the medieval to the modern world began. Contention over the correct interpretation of the Holy Scriptures led, both in Germany and far beyond, to a fundamental transformation of ecclesiastical structures and changes in the political map. The effects of this historical event inaugurated in Wittenberg, in the Electorate of Saxony, in 1517 are still being felt today, which explains why there is a larger number of numismatic objects relating to the Reformation than to most other historical events.
In view of this year's anniversary, the Münzkabinett is holding an exhibition in which it is presenting a selection of around 140 medals and commemorative coins from among its extensive holdings on the theme of "Reformatio in Nummis". The objects on show cover the entire period of five centuries. It is clearly evident that the medal, as an artistic medium that developed in the Renaissance, contributed significantly to the spread of the new doctrine, thanks to its reproducibility and portability. As well as contemporary and posthumous portraits of Martin Luther and other reformers portrayed on medals right up to the modern period, the exhibition explores images and inscriptions that were used to promote the Reformation.
Beginning with the historical events of the 16th century which led to the creation of Landeskirchen in each territory, the various anniversaries of the Reformation in subsequent centuries, down to the present day, demonstrate a culture of commemoration that has moulded public consciousness in many places and countries. The exhibition rounds off with some impressive authentic objects that were owned by Martin Luther - his signet ring and lidded cup, which now belong to the Grünes Gewölbe.