How much are aluminum pennies worth

How die cutter Max Barduleck experienced the last days of the Dresden mint in 1887

The name Münzgasse in Dresden's inner city between Frauenkirche, New Market and Brühl's Terrace reminds us that there was a money factory here until 1887. A long time ago, it had to give way to the magnificent buildings erected under King Albert. The art academy can be recognized by the dome with the gilded Victoria on top, built between 1887 and 1894 according to plans by Konstantin Lipsius. The dome was nicknamed "Lemon Squeezer" because of its special shape. At the time of its creation it was heavily controversial because it was seen as a competition to the dome of the Frauenkirche. Today it is seen as an enrichment of the old town.

This could also have been the case in the middle of the 19th century in the Dresden mint when punching the blanks, embossing on the toggle press and rolling the metal strips and at the very back when casting the metal. All of this work was always done in one and the same little money factory, as you can see in the old photo.

The toggle press and the scrubbing drum with casting molds in the background on the right come from Muldenhüttenn and are shown in the Hausmannsturm of the Dresden Castle with other historical devices.

This opening in the Dresden Münzkabinett, which was used to cut the coin blanks from narrow metal strips, comes from the inventory of the Dresden or Muldenhütten mint.

The B on the coins minted under King Johann refers to mint master Buschick, who in 1887 drew the last Dresden and the first Muldenhütten pfennigs in a special way and made them famous.

The medal for the eighth centenary of the House of Wettin with the head of King Albert and an allegory is a work by Max Barduleck, to whom we owe interesting insights into the inner workings of the Dresden mint. (Photos / repros: Caspar)

The coin history of the German Empire knows many curiosities and rarities. We owe the Dresden stamp cutter Max Barduleck information about the last one-pfennig coins minted in the Saxon capital on February 7, 1887, which, as extraordinary rarities, achieve enormous prices if they are offered by the coin trade. The dissolution of the Dresden Mint, which was established in the 16th century, had long been under discussion after the unification of the empire in 1871. The Saxon state coin, located near Dresden Castle and Brühl's Terrace, moved to Muldenhütten near Freiberg in 1887 and was involved in the production of aluminum pennies and groschen on behalf of the GDR government until 1953.

These coins can be recognized by the mint mark E, which has been used by the Dresden and Muldenhüttener mint since the unification of the empire in 1871. After minting operations in Muldenhütten were stopped in 1953, the coin and medal stamps as well as some historical minting machines and other devices came to the Dresden Münzkabinett. Attempts by Saxon coin lovers after reunification in 1990 to revive the production of money in Muldenhütten and thereby return the traditional identifier E to the German coinage, failed due to disinterest in politics and the costs that this project would have caused.

Crossed swords and diamond crown

Saxony can look back on a long history of coins. Of the many mints that worked for the electors, only the one in Dresden remained in the 19th century. In the electoral and from 1806 royal main mint, which was active in various locations in the Elbe metropolis from 1556 until the move to Muldenhütten in 1887, coins and medals were created that are well represented in the offers of the coin trade and make the hearts of collectors beat faster. In addition to the usual currency coins with the sovereign image, the crossed swords and the diamond crown and in the royal Polish period with the Saxon-Polish alliance coat of arms, splendid commemorative coins made of gold and silver and medals were minted on which the Wettins represented themselves as concerned sovereigns, great generals and generous art patrons presented.

Since the Saxon state had new building plans for the Brühlsche Terrasse in Dresden and in adjacent streets after the unification of the empire in 1871 under King Albert, the coin stood in the way. From 1887, i.e. immediately after the workers moved out, to 1894, the Art Academy was built on the Brühlsche Terrasse according to plans by Konstantin Lipsius in the neo-Renaissance style, visible from afar on a glass dome with a gilded angel on it. The Albertinum next door, named after King Albert, was built in the style of the Italian High Renaissance as a museum building according to plans by the architect Karl Adolf Cranzler. The old, unsightly factory buildings of the mint had no more space in these noble surroundings. Only the name Münzgasse reveals that money was made below the art academy a long time ago. The houses that stood here, like almost the entire city center, went under in the night of bombing from February 13th to 14th, 1945. Today there are few residential and commercial buildings near the rebuilt Frauenkirche and the Neuer Markt, and there is a lot of activity in numerous restaurants and souvenir shops.

The number of workers fell sharply

The planning and construction of the art academy went hand in hand with the recommendation of the state parliament to the government to unite the Dresden mint with the Freiberg smelting works and to stop the mint in Dresden and demolish the old buildings. At the new location in Muldenhütten, a new building was to be built for 146,000 marks. The move would certainly have been completed faster if the decrepit water wheel of the Dresden silver hammer had not collapsed in August 1885. As a result, the drafting system on which the tines were rolled became inoperable, which in turn meant that the coinage was interrupted until December 1886. The silver hammer was publicly auctioned on December 22, 1886 and acquired by the city of Dresden for 70,000 marks. The old mint building, on the other hand, was ruthlessly cannibalized, regardless of the historically valuable inventory, and demolished in the following years.

A list by Hugo Fischer in the "Contributions to the History of Technology and Industry - Yearbook of the Association of German Engineers" (1926), in addition to the facts and figures just mentioned, also indicates that the Dresden money factory in the 15 years up to its Relocation to Muldenhütten minted coins for 114,226,729 marks. Of this sum, gold coins took the lion's share with 82,474,310 marks, followed by 28,309,707 marks for silver coins as well as 2.87 million marks for nickel coins and 0.572 million marks for copper coins. Also of interest is the development in the workforce, about which Fischer reports with reference to files in the main state archive that the number of workers was 31 in 1871 and had fallen to three or four in 1879. In the last few years there were seldom more than three men. This loss of personnel is reflected in the declining minting numbers that are registered in the coin catalogs.

Where raw forces rule senselessly

We are well informed about the inner workings of the money factory operating between the Frauenkirche and Cosel-Palais near the Brühlsche Terrasse through a report by the coin cutter and medalist Max Barduleck. In his memoirs, edited posthumously in 1981 by Paul Arnold, the director of the Dresden Münzkabinett, the artist, who was employed as an engraver at the Saxon Mint in 1867 and served it until his retirement in 1911, criticized the motto "Where raw forces senseless rule "from Schiller's" Glocke "uttered chaotic circumstances under which the Dresden mint was dissolved and moved to Muldenhütten near Freiberg in 1887. "No sooner had the last tool been brought to safety than the smelters rushed on the machines and continued their work of destruction. [] When tearing down and clearing the coinage guards expeditions, the carpenters had done particularly badly. There was one in one of the rooms Very beautiful black-stained wood paneling with a dainty wall fountain made of cast pewter in the middle, depicting a dolphin. The rough fellows smashed the whole splendid interior design with the hint that they had been commissioned by the hut builder. What valuable objects that are worth preserving would have been, perished, had to touch every art and antiquity lover in the most painful way. To Barduleck's sorrow, not only the pieces of equipment from uneducated blanks were destroyed, but also important files and numerous coin and medal stamps. "How much valuable may still have been underneath," is the sigh of the punch cutter, who was rightly indignant at the brutal way in which historical furniture, documents and tools were disposed of.

Max Barduleck's memories, written in 1921, are an interesting source not only for the final years of the mint in Dresden, but also impress with their excellent characterization of the staff working in Dresden. The spectrum ranges from dutiful, even pedantic officials to contemporaries who took their service lightly, to tight-fisted, scheming and obnoxious cholerics. Some fell into debt, fell ill, or took early retirement. Apparently the Dresden Mint offered the upper class of employees ample opportunity to let all five be. Some mint officials couldn't get by with their poor pay and had a more or less lucrative side trade, which was hardly possible for the simple mint workers who worked twelve hours.

Most miserable wages

Working on the stamping machines, in the foundry, on the rollers and punching machines and in other areas, the workforce, according to Barduleck, "was composed of all professions and unskilled people. Locksmiths, as well as manual professions in general, from which one could assume skill and understanding, there were only a few available. Blacksmiths were still mostly represented, otherwise tailors and shoemakers often exchanged needles and awls for the minting profession. " Some families had father, son and grandchildren employed in the mint, and their employees had a corps spirit. It went so far that the mint workers applied to the Ministry of Finance for a special headgear with a certain badge "in order to be able to legitimize themselves as belonging to the mint". The request was rejected.

Barduleck noted that the wages had always been "the poorest". Before the wages were increased by ten pfennigs, heated battles had to be fought. Even if the wages of the mint workers in Muldenhütten were somewhat adjusted to those of the ironworkers, "they were still extremely low, and fights were necessary here too before the hourly wages were increased by pennies". Unfortunately, the memoirs contain no indication of what Barduleck got himself for his work as a die cutter. The lists of the coins and medals he created in the memoirs published by Paul Arnold allow the conclusion that the fees paid to the artist enabled a life of prosperity. It is also known from the history of other mints that coin engravers and medalists did not earn badly and received extra ratifications if a design or stamp was particularly successful for the client. This process certainly spurred the creativity and commitment of the artists, who often had academic training and were also highly specialized artisans.

According to descriptions of the damage, the floods that regularly hit Dresden, as well as the work done by "modern Cyclops" in the smelting room and in the silver hammer further away, where the coin plates were rolled and the planes were cut, annealed, adjusted and knurled , Barduleck turned to embossing in his description. "In the embossing room there were six Uhlhorn embossing machines, two large, two medium-sized and two small. When the heavy iron bodies of the machines were set up at the time, the workers said 'they are our corpse stones' because only one man is enough to operate them. "

Modern toggle presses as workplace hogs

Knee-lever presses were faster than any other device, and anyone who had previously worked leisurely on the clipping mechanism or the screw press had to fear that the new types of machines would make their work and bread in dispute, a phenomenon that those in other industrial areas, such as the textile branch, have noticed Machine storming was reacted to the job hogs. According to Barduleck, a "Uhlhorn" managed 60 to 70 coins per minute with a diameter of up to 20 mm and 40 to 45 coins if they were up to 41 mm in size, i.e. double thaler size. However, these quantities were not reached because the machine wanted to be spared. "If the minting machines had rattled and pounded for days, the day of delivery came. The sacks on the mighty table emptied, and the shiny coins piled up to form a high mountain that represented millions in gold. On boards, on boards for the various people When holes in the size of coins were screwed in, the coins were counted, then weighed, sacked, booked, numbered, tied, labeled and sealed. [] At the windows that led to the arsenal, large crowds of spectators had often gathered behind the iron bars Marveled at these treasures with covetous glances and exchanged their wishes. The sacks were now well packed and delivered to the post office, the Reichsbank or the Ministry of Finance. So it went day after day, year after year, especially with the conversion of the coin law in the 1970s that worked day and night. "

According to Max Barduleck, minting in Dresden had peaked in 1876, after which there was a lull and many workers had to be laid off. From 1879 the company almost fell asleep, and in 1882 and 1884 there was no work at all, which is confirmed by information in the relevant catalogs. Under these circumstances, it was only a matter of time before the government decided to cancel the Dresden Mint or to move it to Muldenhütten near Freiberg.

March 27, 2019

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