The Numismatic Cabinet

The Royal Castle's Numismatic Cabinet was opened in 1981 in order to continue the tradition of the last Polish king's Cabinet des Médailles. After Stanislaus Augustus' death, the major part of his collection of coins and medals, comprising more than 16,000 items, was sold to the Lyceum in Kremenets in the Ukraine (Polish: Krzemieniec). Following the November Uprising they were confiscated and taken to Kiev, where they are still housed in the National Museum of the History of the Ukraine.

The collections in the reconstructed Castle are channelled towards Polish subjects and subjects related to Poland. The collection was built up from scratch – thanks to gifts, bequests from institutions, purchases (including sponsored purchases), exchanges and long term loans. After 25 years, the collections in the Castle now contain more than 15,000 coins, medals and banknotes, as well as decorations and badges (Decorations Room). It mainly comprises Polish items and is one of the best collections of its kind in the country. The Cabinet also has a well-stocked specialist library.

To date the core of the collections is comprised of gifts, in particular those donated in 1982 which include: General Jerzy Węsierski's collection (3,234 coins and medals donated by Ruth Węsierski and Zofia Sharnagiel of Great Britain), a collection of Polish medals belonging to Stanisław Gawroński of Szukel (822 items, donated by Jan Gawroński of Rome), a collection of fourteenth-twentieth century medals belonging to Jarosław Kuryłowicz (1,119 items, donated in 1991 by Maria and Włodzimierz Kuryłowicz). Many private individuals, societies and institutions have also donated single coins and medals as well as sets of them, and the National Bank of Poland successively provides the Castle with all the coins and banknotes issued in Poland after 1945.

The permanent exhibition Coins and Medals in Polish History which was opened in 1985, contains a selection of the best coins and medals illustrating the history of Polish minting from the beginnings of the Polish State to recent times, as well as beautiful Polish medals dating from the sixteenth century onwards. A very tasteful collections of coins and medals donated by Bank Handlowy w Warszawie S.A. (The Numismatic Collection of Bank Handlowy w Warszawie S.A) is displayed separately and comprises 155 items and part of a collection of European medals and gold and gilded plaques dating from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries which come from the collections of Professor Andrzej Ciechanowiecki (on loan from the Ciechanowiecki Foundation Collections).

Items in the various collections which are not on permanent display are available for individual study/research by the staff of the Royal Castle and guests who may be interested (e.g. Polish and foreign researchers, museologists, students, the editorial departments of radio and television and publishing houses, etc.). They are also displayed in temporary exhibitions, both those organized at the Castle as well as in other museums. The Numismatic Cabinet attaches a lot of importance to the protection, collection and academic study of exchequers and finds of single coins. Our collections contain 30 exchequers, or parts of them, with coins dating from antiquity to the eighteenth century, as well as ca. 20 finds of single coins (in total nearly 6,000 coins).

Every three years the Castle organizes a competition (the Jan Gawroński Award) for the best research in the field of Polish numismatics and medals (the 9th edition of the Competition will take place in 2009).
Marta Męclewska, Michał Zawadzki


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