National Historical Museum of the Republic of Belarus

Precious Metals and Gems

The beginning of the collection acquisition dates back to the late 1950s, when the museum began to conduct expeditions for collecting exhibits within the territory of Belarus. It should be noted that the collection "Precious metals and gems" includes numismatic collection, phaleristics, household items, decorative and applied arts, as well as weapons made of gold and silver. Chronological framework of the collection is very broad: from archaeological monuments dating back to 3rd century BC to early 21st-century commemorative coins of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus. The very first collection acquisition is a twisted bracelet with zoomorphic ends of the 12th century from excavations of Minsk Castle site, which were held in 1967.

Collection of coins from precious metals numbers about 4500 depository items. A considerable part of them (1200 units) are coins of the Russian Empire since the time of Peter the Great, transferred in 1960 from the State Hermitage Museum (Russia).

The collection includes coining of various countries: Prussia, Austria-Hungary, Sweden, and Denmark of 17th-20th centuries. We can single out a coin collection of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 15th-18th centuries (groszes, tymfs, orts), coins of pre-Petrine Russia (dengas, kopecks), currency units of the United Provinces of the Netherlands (patagons, leeuwendaalder, thalers, rijksdaalders). Iranian means of payment (qrans) are also of numismatic interest, as well as Japanese (sens), Chinese (yuans), Iraqui (rials), Egyptian (piastres), Bulgarians (stotinki), Brazilian (réis), Serbian (dinars), Romanian (lei). However, they are represented by unique samples. USSR money circulation, especially of the 1920s, is also well-presented.

Separate collection is presented by silver and gold commemorative coins of the National Bank of Belarus. The collection began to form in 1997 ("The Fox", "50 years of establishment of the UN," series "Olympic Belarus", "Festivals and Rites of the Slavs", etc.).

The most unique coins of the collection are considered: double miliaresion (610-641, Byzantium), bracteate of the 10th century (Germany), the Italian grossa (Venice, Doge Reniero Zeno (1253-1268), stater dated year 494 of Bosporan era (197-198 BC).

The Russian Empire system of awards of the nineteenth century is well presented in the collection, which includes both military insignias and civilian awards. The most interesting phaleristics monuments are: medal commemorating the 80th anniversary since the birth of Bismarck (1895, Germany); badge commemorating the 17th of October, 1905; medal commemorating the treaty between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden in Sztumska Wieś (1635); medal of Roman Academy of 1907 for achievements in poetry; medal issued to commemorate the 15th anniversary of marriage of King Frederick Augustus of Saxony and his wife Amalie (1768-1769), etc.

A collection of modern monuments of phaleristics was formed mainly by acquisitions of orders, medals, insignia and badges from famous statesmen and public figures, members of historical events.

Arts and crafts are presented in the museum’s collection by different interesting monuments: icons, crosses, tableware of Russian Empire and Western Europe, timepieces, jewellery, accessories. The collection "Precious metals and stones" includes unique objects of decorative art: belt set of silver plates of the first third of the fifteenth century (so-called "Vytautas’ belt"); chalice from Navahrudak, XVI century; panagia "God Almighty" (1789); an altar cross of 1625. A special place in the collection is taken by the archaeological findings (hryvnias, rings, temple rings, and bracelets) and weapons (cold steel and fire arms).

Total number of items in the collection "Precious metals and gems" is 6,258 units (as of 2011).