Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Denmark

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Ny Vestergade 10
1471 Copenhagen
Tel: +45 (0)3313 4411

The National Museum is located beside Christiansborg Palace in a classic 18th century mansion called the Prince’s Palace, which was the residence of Crown Prince Frederik (V), Crown Princess Louise, and other members of the royal family.

The Museum’s Royal Collection of Coins and Medals comprise over half a million specimens, and the nation’s leading collection of payment, medals, and other items related to payment instruments from around the world. The collection of Danish payment is considered the world’s most extensive. Danish coins from Viking times to the present and coins from ancient Rome and Greece, and examples of the coinage and currencies of other cultures are also exhibited.

The Permanent Exhibit Gallery

The permanent exhibit gallery is spread over seven rooms with both floor and wallmounted displays. The text is bilingual: Danish and English. The first room (#141) shows Danish and foreign medals from the 1400s to the present. Special emphasis is on medals illustrating the history of Denmark. The oldest medals are cast, while current medals use both molded and embossed techniques.

The next two rooms (#142 and 143) exhibit the first coins from Lydia of the 7th century BC which were composed of the natural electrum alloy. The development of coinage is supported by examples from ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium, Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, early Arabic dynastic coins, and those from the Viking age.

Danish Coinage and Paper Money

The next two rooms (#144 and 145) deal almost solely with Danish coinage and paper money. Here is a chronological exhibition of Danish coins from those ancient Viking coins minted in Hedeby in 800, inspired by Carolingian types. On display is the first Danish coin minted by Sweyn Forkbeard (c. 995), who was the first to put the name of the country, his image, and his name as the Danish king on a coin. It was not until Canute’s reign (1018-1035) that organized Danish coinage was introduced according to the Anglo-Saxon pattern.

The coins of Christian IV (1588-1648) are noteworthy in that many include the four Hebrew letters, or tetragrammaton, that spell the Hebrew name of God on coins of the last four years of his reign. Some think the letters brought him good luck in helping him defeat Sweden in the 1613 Kalmar War. Since the 1700s, the Royal Collection received copies of all coins and medals that were struck at the Danish Royal Mint so that the National Museum now has a complete collection of Danish coins from this period.

There are examples of Danish coins from the former Danish possessions of Greenland, Faroe Islands, Danish West Indies, and Tranquebar. In the middle of the room is a chronological display of Danish banknotes from 1713 to the present.

World Coins

In the last rooms (#146 and 147) are world coins in pyramid-shaped display cases, giving visitors the opportunity to explore such diverse cultures as Japan, Byzantium, and Mexico and to compare countries’ coins across time and space. Furthermore, there are different themes, for example: biblical coins, Crusader coins, and coins used as amulets. Also, there are examples of highly unusual coins like the Swedish copper plate coins and so-called primitive coins, including a wheel-shaped stone coin from the island of Yap in Micronesia.

The National Bank of Denmark (Danmarks Nationalbank) is about 0.4 miles (700 m) away at Havnegade 5, and a visit there is highly recommended.

This text was written by Howard M. Berlin and first published in his book Numismatourist in 2014.

You can order his numismatic guidebook at Amazon.

Howard M. Berlin has his own website.

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