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08 Czerwiec 2021

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The Sławomir S. Skrzypek NBP Money Centre has an extremely rich collection of exhibits related to the history of money over the centuries. Collected in sixteen rooms – thematic modules - they familiarize visitors with people's efforts to create the best possible financial settlement system, from ancient times to today. And they are not only historical and contemporary coins and banknotes. Below we present a few selected exhibits that can be found in the exhibition space of the NBP Money Centre.

A must-have for merchant and numismatists – a scale for gold coins


Dated to the 1780s, the jewellery scale with a set of weights for modern-era gold coins comes from the well-known workshop of Johann Daniel vom Berg from the town of Lennep (now a district of the city of Remscheid near Düsseldorf), which was a part of the Duchy of Berg. The steel weighing pan has a shape typical of that period with “goose-neck” tips and two brass scales (pans) suspended on strings. Monetary weights, i.e. items with a standard weight for a given type of coin, were used to check the correct weight of the coin. Seven brass weights shaped like a truncated pyramid with a handle are packed together with the scale in a wooden box. Besides the name of the denomination, each of them bears the image of the coat of arms of the lion of the former Duchy of Berg. The inside of the lid bears a label with the name of the manufacturer and a part of the date “178”. This means that the scale was produced in the 1780s, between 1782, the year in which Johann Daniel vom Berg received his master’s licence, and 1789. This type of scale was very common in modern Europe. The set of weights included with the scale could comprise up to 20 pieces and were intended for weighing various denominations from different coin systems, e.g. French Louis d'or coins, Austrian krone, or English guineas.

For more information, see Eliza Walczak’s article in Bankoteka magazine no. 20, p. 24. The exhibit can be seen in the “Antiquity-Middle Ages- Modernity” room.

What can you read from a medal?


The medals that we can admire in the Money Centre are a real treat for numismatists and researchers of the history of Poland. Produced in order to commemorate important events and distinguished people from various fields, struck as decorations or awards for outstanding achievements, they are a true testimony of past times. Among the medals collected in the study, we can admire the medal depicting Franciszek Smolka, struck to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his presidency of the Galician Diet (Sejm Krajowy) and chairmanship of the committee for the construction of the mound commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Union of Lublin. Only one copy of the medal was struck in gold!

In 1454 the uprising against Teutonic rule in Gdańsk led to the incorporation of the city into the Polish Crown by King Casimir Jagiellon, and the later incorporation of the whole of Royal Prussia after the end of the Thirteen Years’ War. The commemoration of these events is reflected in two medals, struck one hundred years apart. The first one was minted in 1654 during the reign of King John Casimir Vasa. The second medal was struck by an unknown author and was commissioned by the Senate of Gdańsk in 1754, during the reign of King Augustus III.

For more information, see Marcin Madejski’s article in Bankoteka magazine no 8, pp. 16-18. The exhibit can be seen in the “Numismatist’s Study” room.

The history of one coin, or the unusual denarius of Mieszko


In a showcase containing the oldest Polish coins, we can find a certain very interesting denarius coin. Researchers studying the Middle Ages continue to disagree about the issuer and the date of production of this seemingly unimpressive coin. The denarius was once considered to be the oldest Polish coin, minted by the first ruler of the Polish state, Mieszko I (ca. 960–992). Right now, however, most researchers, including the author of the earlier concept, attribute this coin to the grandson of Mieszko I, who bore the same name as him, the subsequent king – Mieszko II Lambert (1025– 1034). Along with the discovery of new treasure troves of early medieval coins and the changes in the attributions (that is, the determination of the place and date of minting and the issuer) of other coins, there were also indications that the coin may have been minted during the reign of Boleslaus the Brave (992–1025) by his son Mieszko, the heir to the throne. As if the situation wasn’t complicated enough, some of the numismatists are still opting for the earlier attribution, citing the general appearance of the denarius, its iconography and its average weight. The denarius from the NBP collections belongs to the older type, based on the classification of Professor Stanisław Suchodolski. There would be nothing unusual about this coin, if not for the fact that on both sides, and especially on the obverse, there are some additional elements, which are not found on the 40 or so other pieces that are known so far.

For more information, see Eliza Walczak’s article in Bankoteka magazine no 18, pp. 20-21.

On the 190th anniversary of the establishment of Bank Polski

Bilet kassowy

Did you know that cash notes are the equivalent of today’s banknotes? They were put into circulation by Bank Polski in 1828. They were printed in 1824 on thin paper in four classes corresponding to their face values. In class A – blue notes with a face value of 5 złoty, in class B – red notes with a face value of 10 złoty, in class C – white notes with a face value of 50 złoty, and in class D – white notes with a face value of 100 złoty. The notes were printed using the copperplate technique. These were the first Polish banknotes printed on both sides. Few of these banknotes have survived to the present day, and all of the surviving ones are rare today.

For more information, see Marcin Madejski’s article in Bankoteka magazine no. 14, pp. 21-22. The exhibit can be seen in the “Central Bank” room.

A souvenir from a trip to Europe… Silver cup dedicated to Rudolf Modrzejewski


One of the acquisitions of the NBP Money Centre is a simple, silver cup, covered with engraved inscriptions and decorated with ten coins . Although its form is rather modest and does not immediately attract the eye of the visitors like some other vessels presented in the exhibition, it has a very interesting background story. The cup was dedicated and probably also gifted to Rudolf Modrzejewski, the son of the famous Polish actress Helena Modrzejewska and Gustaw Zimajer. Modrzejewski was a prominent railway engineer and a pioneer in the construction of suspension bridges who was well known for his work both in the United States and in Europe. The silver cup with a straight form, widening slightly at the top, is decorated with silver and gold coins on its body (5 pieces and 4 pieces, respectively). The inclusion of coins minted by kings recognized in Polish historiography as successful rulers, as well as a coin of the last king of Poland, and a coin of the city of Kraków, suggests decidedly patriotic intentions. While the use of American coins can be explained by the fact that the United States became Rudolf Modrzejewski’s adopted homeland, the presence of a Russian coin is difficult to explain. All the coins were fitted with the obverse sides on the outside, so the busts depicted on the coins are visible. The gold coins were coated with silver on the obverse sides, so the whole vessel looks like a uniformly silver object. The vessel contains a number of engravings in Polish referring to various aspects of the private and professional life of Ralph Modjeski, as he presented himself for the sake of simplicity outside Poland.

For more information, see Eliza Walczak’s article in Bankoteka magazine no. 21, pp. 20-22. The exhibit can be seen in the “Antiquity-Middle Ages-Modernity ” room.

The hemihekte – a precious little piece


A small lump of ore known as Electrum, a natural alloy of gold and silver, is one of the smallest exhibits presented in the NBP Money Centre. Due to the symbol impressed on this item, it is considered to be one of the first coins in the world. The emergence of this coin is dated to the middle of the 7th century BC, and it is believed to have been put into circulation by one of the Lydian kings of the Mermnad dynasty. The first Lydian coins from Electrum were only struck on one side. On their obverse, that is the main side, the coins carried the symbol of the royal authority – the head of the Lydian lion. The Electrum coin exhibited in the NBP Money Centre is a hemihekte (1/12 of a stater) weighing 1.15 grams. We keep this valuable item in a safe display case. The coin is so small that we have installed a special magnifying glass so that you can see it in all its glory.

For more information, see Marcin Madejski’s article in Bankoteka magazine no. 9, pp. 14-15. The exhibit can be seen in the “Antiquity-Middle Ages-Modernity ” room.