The permanent collection reflects the strengths of the Coin Collection of the Joanneum and draws inspiration from its surroundings, the exhibition being located in the central area of Eggenberg Palace. The setting is spread over two rooms located in the oldest part of the palace complex, namely the Castrum Eckenperg, built in the second half of the 15th century and pre-dating the prince’s residence of the 17th century.
The “Balthasar Eggenberger” Room
The “Balthasar Eggenberger” exhibition room, named after the man who had it built and was the wealthiest citizen of Graz at the close of the Middle Ages, offers an insight into the life of this financial tycoon who, during the time of early capitalism, laid the foundations for the rapid rise of the house of Eggenberg. During the 1450s Balthasar Eggenberger became financier to Emperor Friedrich III and Master of the Graz Mint. As lessee of the Graz Mint, Balthasar was an independent entrepreneur working at his own risk. Balthasar made a legitimate profit from minting coins if the cost of producing a coin was lower than the value of the coin as means of payment. The higher the lease payment demanded by the emperor and the higher the price of silver, the lower the resulting profit margin for Balthasar. As a profit-oriented entrepreneur, he probably felt compelled to make further reductions in the quality and individual weight of his coins around 1459.
The “Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg” room
Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg, great-grandson of Balthasar and First Minister to Emperor Ferdinand II, was the Eggenberg family member who presided over the construction of the new palace starting in 1625. In 1625 he also obtained the right of striking coins from the emperor. Hans Ulrich, an exceptional and highly educated man who, in but a few decades, rose to become one of the most influential princes in the Holy Roman Empire, has a defining influence on the ambiance of the second room of the new Coin Cabinet.
The coins in the “Hans Ulrich” room offer an overview of Styrian coinage and coins in circulation in Styria from ancient times till the end of the 18th century. Selected pieces from the Graz Mint illustrate its capabilities of this mint producing, in the period from around 1215 until its closure under Maria Theresia, coins for day to day transactions and, from the 16th century onwards, official presentation coins for the archduke. The central formal element of the “Hans Ulrich” room is a large glazed showcase in which individual sets and series of coins are arranged according to chronological, typological and iconographic criteria.