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About 150 letters written by Hans von Schellenberg to a coin collector friend, Johann Jacob Rüeger, have survived. They have been stored for centuries in the Universitätsbibliothek in Basel. About 10 % of the letters, written between 1595 and 1606, is dedicated to numismatic and archaeological issues. The rest of the texts deals with every-day events, theological issues, gout, which afflicted both correspondents, and many other day-to-day problems giving a vivid picture of the life of an average intellectual in the 16th century.
Moreover, these letters provide details on how coins were traded and collected around 1600. They address routine issues like what to pay for a certain coin and where to store it. They discuss where to buy coins and how to detect fakes from the genuine coins. We learn about Schellenberg’s network stretching to Augsburg, Basel and Zurich, which led him to one of the most important numismatists of his time: Adolph Occo.
Hans the Savant, as Hans of Schellenberg loved to be called, was the descendant of an old family of Imperial knights who supported the Emperor and were active proponents of the Catholic faith. Therefore, Hans received a distinguished education attending the Jesuit University of Ingolstadt and the University of Freiburg. He completed his studies travelling to Rome, where his love for antiquity deepened. After his father’s death in 1583 he took control of the Schellenberg seigneury consisting of Randeck Castle, Hüfingen Castle and some smaller estates close to Schaffhausen / Switzerland. He was proud of his position as superior of the Imperial knighthood of Hegau, Allgau and Lake Constance.
Johann Jakob Rüeger was the son of the cathedral priest of Schaffhausen. He studied in Strasbourg and Zurich. Rüeger rose through the hierarchy of the Reformed Church of Schaffhausen. His exquisite knowledge brought him into contact with the most eminent coin collectors of North Switzerland and Southern Germany. Rüeger is known to have written the first history of Schaffhausen.
The letters of Hans of Schellenberg will be transcribed, translated into modern German and commented. There will also be an extensive introduction. The focus is not limited to numismatic issues, but numismatics will play an important role for the analysis.
79540 Lörrach, Germany