|Dates of operation||1280-date|
The State Mint of Berlin is one of the five German state mints that currently operate under the supervision of the Senatsverwaltung für Finanzen. The mint has used an “A” as a mint mark since 1750. It currently mints medals and tokens, as well as circulation and commemorative euros for the Federal Republic of Germany.
Margravial Mint of Brandenburg (13th century–1356)
The two merchant settlements of Cölln and Berlin, located on the opposite banks of River Spree, were first documented in 1237 and 1244.
Although coins had been minted in Berlin earlier, the first time a mint is mentioned in a document dates from 4 April 1280. Coins were hand hammered for the Margraviate and, following the Golden Bull of 1356, for the Electorate of Brandenburg.
Electoral Mint of Brandenburg (Münzerstrasse, 1356–1630)
On 24 June 1369, Berlin, by then united with Cölln, together with 13 other German cities, acquired municipal rights to mint Ewiger Pfennigs. The cost of the privilege was 1.5 tonnes of silver. The pfennigs of Berlin showed the margrave with a sword and a spear on the obverse, and a bear running left on the reverse. The mint was located on Münzer Strasse, near Neuer Markt.
Berlin continued to develop, it joined the Hanseatic League in the 14th century, and became the capital of Brandenburg. In the mid-15th century, the ruling Hohenzollerns moved their residence to Berlin.
Relocation to the Münzturm (1630–1701)
The Berlin Water Tower (German: Wasserturm) was commissioned by Elector Johann Georg and built in 1572 by Johann von Blankenfelde as part of the water supply system of Berlin. By the beginning of the 17th century, the water ducts had degraded and were no longer usable. Nevertheless, the Water Tower was still fully operational and the mint was moved there in 1630. The tower became known as the Tower of the Mint (German: Münzturm) and the adjacent moat as the Münzgraben.
After the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which reduced the population of Berlin by half, the municipal mint was closed down in 1666, although the elector had already confirmed the minting privilege for another 100 years. The mint was reopened in 1680.
Royal Mint of Prussia (Unterwasserstrasse, 1701–1752)
Frederick III of Brandenburg was crowned King of Prussia as Frederick I (1701–1713). He appointed architect Andreas Schlüter to transform the Berlin Palace into his main winter residence. Part of this commission was also the refurbishment of the Tower of the Mint, which was adjacent to the Palace. This was to be increased to 91 meters, receive stronger foundations, and get a clock, chimes, and a new water tank. However, starting in 1704, the construction works encountered significant difficulties. The tower inclined and got cracks, needing to be supported by a 13 meter high wall in 1705, and again by pillars in 1706. No further construction was carried out and a commission agreed on the architect's proposal dated 18 July 1706 to reduce the tower to a height of 36 meters and use it as a viewing platform. However, before the king could give his consent, the tower collapsed. In the same year, the inoperative Münzgraben was filled up.
During the extensive construction works, the minting workshops had to be relocated to Unterwasserstrasse 2, next to the old Friedrichswerder Town Hall. In this new location, an artificial canal of River Spree, the Münzkanal, had already been constructed in 1688 and could be used to power the minting equipment.
Reform of Frederick II (Münzstrasse, 1752–1802)
In 1750, during the reign of King Frederick II (1740–1786), Prussia became a major European power and the importance of the capital Berlin grew as well. The minting system was reorganized and the Royal Mint of Berlin started to use the “A” mint mark that is still in use to this day. This mint mark replaced the long-established practice of marking coins with the initials of the mint masters.
The mint grew in importance and could no longer keep up with its commissions, requiring more and more space. Therefore, in 1752, the mint was moved to a new location in Münzstrasse.
Royal Mint of Prussia (Werderscher Markt, 1802–1871)
On 26/27 November 1794, the old Friedrichswerder town hall on Werdersche Markt (today the new part of the Federal Foreign Office) was destroyed by fire. At the initiative of Minister Friedrich Anton von Heynitz, the Prussian government acquired the vacant building site to enlarge the inadequate mint.
On 10 November 1798, the architect Johann Heinrich Gentz started the works on the new building, and in 1802, the mint moved to its new location in Werderscher Markt. The building was decorated by the 36 metre long Münzfries, elaborate sandstone friezes designed by Friedrich Gilly and executed by Johann Gottfried Schadow. They represent the discovery of raw precious metals under Rheas’s and Prometheus's instructions, the processing of the ore, the minting of coins, the offering at the altar of Pluto, and finally the use of the coins in the service of the gods Mercury and Minerva.
In 1820, Mint Director Christian Friedrich Goedeking introduced the state-of-the-art coin production equipment: the Uhlhorn toggle press developed in 1817.
Prussian State Mint (1871–1934)
Between 1868 and 1871, the mint was extended in Unterwasserstrasse 2–5 and Holzgartenstrasse 1–3, with buildings designed by architects August Stüler and Wilhelm Neumann.
With the foundation of the German Empire, the Prussian King William I became German Emperor (1871–1885). With the Coins Act of 4 December 1871, the coinage was reformed and the mint became the Prussian State Mint. Out of the ten state mints in the empire, Berlin alone produced 55% of all the coins. Foreign countries were also commissioning coins in Berlin. In 1875, each minting press was producing 60 to 70 coins per minute. Every day, around 750,000 coins were created on the 18 presses in Berlin.
The building in Werderscher Markt was finally demolished in 1885/1886 to make room for the Werderhaus, a commercial building.
The Prussian State Mint stopped making gold coins in 1914, at the beginning of World War I. Coins made of iron, zinc and aluminum continued to be produced. After the war, in the early 20s, extreme inflation rendered coins useless and most aluminum coins were not released for circulation, but were rather thrown back into the melting furnace.
The situation stabilised again in 1924, with the introduction of the Rentenmark. The mint started to produce again coins made of copper, nickel and silver.
German Reich Mint (Molkenmarkt, 1934–1947)
With the Coin Act of 1934, the National Socialists decided to establish the Reichsmünze, a single central mint in Berlin replacing the existing six mints of the entire Reich. However, the existing location in Friedrichswerder was too small for the project.
Therefore, the construction of a new Reich Mint began in 1935, on the site of the Stadtvogtei, in Molkenmarkt 1–3, close to River Spree, on the foundations of the historic Krögel district. The new building was designed by architects Fritz Keibel and Arthur Reck and integrated the Münzfries, which was salvaged from the former Werderscher Markt Mint. The adjacent baroque Schwerin Palace, built in 1704, was also integrated into the complex. A further workshop and auxiliary buildings were constructed on Rolandufer Street.
However, due to the beginning of World War II, the building project could not be completed. During the war, Berlin's art treasures were kept in the vaulted cellars of the inoperational buildings. The buildings still in use at the old Unterwasserstrasse site were completely destroyed in the war.
Publicly Owned Mint of Berlin (Molkenmarkt, 1947-1990)
After the end of World War II, the Prussian State Mint remained in the Soviet sector of East Berlin and became the Volkseigener Betrieb Münze Berlin, the Publicly Owned Mint of Berlin. In December 1947, coin production in the Molkenmarkt building was resumed for emergency zinc coins. After the currency reform of 1948, new coins for regular circulation were minted in aluminum.
With the closure of the Muldenhütten mint in 1953, Berlin remained the only mint in the German Democratic Republic. After 1964, the currency denomination was changed from Deutsche Mark to Mark, and consequently, the coins were redesigned. From 1966, the Berlin Mint also started to produce commemorative coins. By the fall of the GDR, 123 commemorative coins had been created.
On the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Berlin coinage, a commemorative coin was issued in 1981, showcasing a reproduction of an Ewiger Pfennig of the city of Berlin on the reverse.
State Mint of Berlin (Molkenmarkt, 1990-2005)
After the German reunification, the mint became the Staatliche Münze Berlin, the State Mint of Berlin, and the production of the new 1 mark coins began on 16 June 1990. Until the introduction of the euro, the State Mint produced five to seven million coins every day, about 20% of the total amount of federal coins. In 2001, a gold coin was produced in Berlin for the first time in 16 years. The 12 g 999.9 fine gold piece commemorated the retirement of the mark. From 2001, production switched to euros and cents.
Relocation to Reinickendorf (2005-date)
In 2005, the State Mint was moved for the first time in more than 700 years outside the Berlin Mitte, to the Reinickendorf district.
• Helmut Caspar; 2006. Vom Taler zum Euro : die Berliner, ihr Geld & ihre Münze. Berlin-Story-Verlag, Berlin, Germany;
• Hilmar Bärthel; 2000. Zur Geschichte der Wasserkunst Berlin. In: Berlinische Monatsschrift (Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein), 5, pp.4-13. ISSN 09445560;
• Hans Wilderotter (ed.); 2000. The house on Werdersche Markt. Jovis, Berlin, Germany, pp. 86–152. ISBN 3931321207;
• Otto Uhlitz; 1978. Der Berliner Münzfries. Geschichte und Schicksal eines bedeutenden Werkes klassizistischer Bildhauerkunst. In: Der Bär von Berlin. Jahrbuch des Vereins für die Geschichte Berlins 27, pp. 51–85;
• Adolph Doebber; 1909. Die Berliner „Alte Münze“ und ihr Erbauer. In: Alt-Berlin. Mitteilungen des Vereins für die Geschichte Berlins, 26, pp. 27–36;
• Richard Borrmann; 1888. Das Fürstenhaus und die alte Münze am Werderschen Markt in Berlin. In: Zeitschrift für Bauwesen 38, pp. 287–298;
• Heinrich Gentz; 1800. Beschreibung des neuen Königlichen Münzgebäudes. In: Sammlung nützlicher Aufsätze und Nachrichten die Baukunst betreffend 1, pp. 14–26.