Propagating the Reform of the Church
It is widely held that, had it not been for the invention of the printing press around 1440 by Johannes Gutenburg, the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, might have ended in nothing more than a theological debate among the scholars and students at the University of Wittenberg. The printing press enabled Luther’s action to become known as “the hammer blows heard around the world.”
What is not as well known is that the sixteenth century also witnessed the flowering of new means for striking medals and coins. Artists, sculptors, woodcutters, and other craftsmen could now make these durable miniature pieces of art to propagate the reform of the church creatively through words of Scripture, symbols, and stories from the life of Luther and the events of the Reformation. For a rather low price, the new middle class, which was arising in Europe, could collect these objects that were easy to store, display, and transport. The expectation was that they would also be treasured by future generations, bringing to remembrance historical events of which their ancestors were a part.
Those hammer blows heard and circulated via the printing press were also spread via medals and coins. The news spread so rapidly that various medals and coins have been struck relating to Luther and his life and teachings than any other single person throughout history.
These medals provided Frederick J. Schumacher, donor, a hobby for the past thirty-seven years. In 1977, one of Frederick’s sons expressed an interest in coins. Frederick took his son to a meeting at the White Plains Coin Club which met in his church in White Plains, NY. It was there that a Jewish club member asked Frederick is he was aware of the auction of the Luther and Reformation medals that was to be held in Paris in the coming months. As Frederick knew of no such thing as the Luther medals, he is grateful for the introduction to the study of Luther in Numismatic art. It was there that Schumacher’s collection began.
Please enjoy this collection of coins that have been digitized for the delight of enthusiasts and scholars alike.