The Mint of Baia Mare city functioned for over 450 years and played an important role in the history of Transylvania and Hungary, uninterruptedly working for the voivodes and princes of Transylvania, the kings of Hungary and the Habsburg Empire.
Photo credit: (c) baiamare.ro
The building where the Mint functioned, constructed near the defence wall of the city, is kept intact after hundreds of years and in time it underwent multiple improvements, in the ?90s having become the headquarters of the Maramures County Museum of History and Archaeology.
Located in the older area of the Baia Mare city, the current Millennium Square, the Mint and Museum represent one of the attraction points for tourists wanting to discover the history of Maramures.
‘Baia Mare benefitted from one of the most important privileges of the time: the right to mint coins. The area was known as having plenty of resources and non-ferrous mineral deposits, rich in gold and silver, which most likely led to the establishment of the mint that functioned uninterruptedly over 450 years. The documents show that the first coins were minted towards the end of the 14th century, the beginning of the 15th century, being a complex activity for that period,’ said Lucia Pop, museographer at the Maramures County History and Archaeology Museum.
The functioning of the mint, historians say, brought advantages to the upper class, but the labour force coning from the villages near the city was drastically exploited in the works of mining the non-ferrous ores, rudimentary back then, and in processing the raw material. The natural resources rich in gold and silver created for kings, emperors and princes a state of perpetual conflict from one generation to another, difficult to solve, but the great benefit, the gold and silver resources also determined the development of the city, trade and education.
The organisation structure of the mint seems to have been well-thought and coordinated and the authorities of the time strictly followed its activities.
‘The first signs engraved by craftsmen on the coins minted were R-I and R-P. The letters I and P could have represented the name of the person authorised to run the mint and the letter R probably came from the Rivulus Dominarum name (the River of Ladies in Latin), the supposed former name of Sasar River. The N and B letters are also frequent, which could mean the Hungarian name of the city of Baia Mare — Nagy Bany. Sometime during the 18th century Austria’s Emperor Joseph the Second introduces the signs standardisation in alphabetical order, the mint of Baia Mare being thus attributed the letter G,’ Lucia Pop said.
The documents of the time also show that around 1600 the mint of Baia Mare was going to issue a golden medal with the effigy of voivode Michael the Brave, at the initiative of the mint’s governor, Felician Herberstein, as a sign of acknowledgement for erasing some debts had to Michael.
During the 18th century, the administration of the city expands the working space of the mint, which would include the headquarters of the first newly established mining companies. Since 1784, the activities of non-ferrous ore mining, already undergoing in Baia Mare and Baia Sprie, would be run by the first Superior Mining Inspectorate, with the mint going under its coordination.
Historians say that between 1850-1860, following some repeated fires, the mint ceased its activity for good, and the bodies of the salvaged buildings would host for many years the institutions coordinating the mining activity. After these activities moved to other buildings in the city, the mint was turned into the current headquarters of the Maramures County History and Archaeology Museum.
The mint is seen as a landmark of the past of Baia Mare city and enjoys the appreciation of Romanian and foreign tourists visiting the Maramures area.AGERPRES