Author Topic: Minters and miners of Kutná Hora (Czech Republic)  (Read 1060 times)

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Offline Postelwijn

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Minters and miners of Kutná Hora (Czech Republic)
« on: July 30, 2014, 12:08:53 PM »
Last week I was on a holiday in the town of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The town used to be the main coin minting site of the Kingdom of Bohemia until about the 18th century. One of the reasons for that was that the raw material for minting was present. Under the surface of Kutná Hora is a vast area of (abandoned) silver mines that have been in use since the early middle ages. Around the 15th century the deepest mine tunnels where about 600 meters beneath the surface which is incredible if one thinks about the difficulties in maintaining a mine. One of the tunnels that is approximately 35 meter beneath the surface can be visited with a guide. It is a very intriguing experience for those that dare go in, because the tunnels are narrow and the roof is low. Every now and then one of the many tunnels collapse leaving a sink hole at the surface. Two years ago I was in Kutná Hora too and saw a large sink hole at a market square. But the mine tunnel that is now part of the museum is stable.

I added a picture of the tour just to give an impression what it looks like. The guide at the left is wearing a typical miners coat that gave the town its name. Kutná Hora means "miners coat hill".

The town has several museums that are dedicated to silver mining in the past and also about the minting during the time that Kutná Hora was the residence of the Royal Mint of Bohemia.

Kutná Hora also has a beautiful cathedral that was dedicated to Saint-Barbara the patron saint of the miners. The church has a most spectacular roof that makes it unique. I took the picture at the exit of the mine.

In the church there are many frescoes and two of them are particularly of interest because they show two coin minters at work. According to local historians these two frescoes were painted in 1463. A truly remarkable document of minting long time ago.
Fingit et Premendo

Offline chrisild

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Re: Minters and miners of Kutná Hora (Czech Republic)
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 01:05:06 PM »
Interesting report about an interesting place. :) Well, old mining tunnels that are not well documented and may collapse, that is something we have around here (Ruhr area) too. But old silver mines, that is cool ...

And the old paintings in the church are fascinating indeed. Not exactly a theme you find in lots of churches, but certainly appropriate in that city. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Christian

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Minters and miners of Kutná Hora (Czech Republic)
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 05:03:19 PM »
Thanks for a fine report, Postelwijn. Mining was indeed an even more dangerous business before stulls were invented; there's no trace of them on your picture.

There's a bird's leg in an oval cartouche at 6 o'clock on this coin. That's the mark of Wolf Herold von Aupa, who was master of the Kuttenberg (Kutná Hora) mint. The man on the other side is Rudolph II, the man with an impossible dream: he wanted to unite all christian kingdoms (under himself, of course) and fight the Ottoman empire. Logical thought, but it required peace between catholics and protestants. Rudy dithered between them, which drove them apart, rather than unite them. In the end, the catholic Hungarians got tired of fighting the Ottomans and rebelled, while protestant Bohemia abused its newfound religious freedom to start a series of religious wars that ended only in 1648. By that time, Rudy was dead. He had spent his last years as a prisoner of his brother and successor, Matthias. Think of that, next time you see the cathedral of Saint Barbara.

The man in the lower picture is clearly minting, but I wonder what the pair above are doing. Flattening dies to the required size, maybe?

Peter
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 07:25:25 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline chrisild

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Re: Minters and miners of Kutná Hora (Czech Republic)
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 08:11:35 PM »
The man in the lower picture is clearly minting, but I wonder what the pair above are doing. Flattening dies to the required size, maybe?

Not sure either. Could it be people who cut the coins from hose long metal bars? Tried to find a similar "scene" but this - from a relatively famous book - was not terribly helpful either.

http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/en/bbb/Mss-hh-I0016/222
(can be enlarged)

That is a page from the "Spiezer Chronik". The worker on the left makes what in German is called Zain (an oblong bar that will later be cut into coin blanks), the next one strikes the coins, and the person in the middle apparently cuts the blanks from the Zain ...

Christian