Heidelberg University is home to a not insignificant coin collection. It consists mainly of ancient coins and is supplemented by a few Byzantine, mediaeval and early modern coins. The majority of the collection is made up of Roman coins from the time of the Republic and, above all, the Imperial period, as well as provincial Roman coins from the east of the Roman Empire and Alexandria. This accounts for about two thirds of the collection. There are also around 600 Greek coins. The collection also contains some Sassanid and Celtic coins. The coins are supplemented by various casts and a very well-preserved stock of electroformed moulds, which was purchased by the British Museum in around 1900. In total the collection amounts to around 5000 numismatic objects.
The Numismatic Collection was begun in the 19th century. It was established on the initiative of Georg Friedrich Creuzer (1771-1858) during his tenure as Full Professor of Philology and Ancient History at Heidelberg University from 1804 to 1845. He referred to Numismatics as ‘the shining light of the Classics’. According to the current state of provenance research, around 20% of the collection is likely to have arrived in Heidelberg by the 19th century.
After having led a little-noticed existence for many years, the Numismatic Collection is currently being reorganized in order to present the objects to the general public. The coins are being photographed in high-resolution and issued with normative data in Heidelberg University's Digital Coin Cabinet.
The collection, which was originally designed to be used as a teaching aid, is now again in intensive use within academic teaching. The curator also frequently receives enquiries from Germany and abroad, and in recent years several pieces from the collection have been sampled for research purposes.