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Early Modern Siege Coinage: Origins and Afterlives

Fri, March 27, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Hegelplatz, Dorotheenstrasse 24/1, Floor: Sixth Floor, 1.601


Produced from church treasury objects or secular plate in times of dire financial straits, Belagerungsklippen are unusual and understudied physical witnesses to the transformational process whereby metalwork became money. This material provenance extends the narrative of siege coins backwards in time, to the previous incarnations of their metal, which sometimes remain visible on their surfaces. As temporary tokens made from gold and silver, siege coins would appear to be among the most ephemeral objects, and yet many were carefully preserved, in some cases gaining additions over time in the form of engraved inscriptions and ornament, and loops for hanging. They eventually appeared in the coin cabinets of princes and learned collectors. This talk considers a few examples of Belagerungsklippen from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Germany and the Netherlands, examining the way their material provenance as well as their role in significant historical events allowed them to resist subsequent liquidation.