The Josef Michera Collections: Roman, Early Byzantine, Islamic and Late Medieval Glass Weights, Vessel Stamps and Jetons
Josef Michera (1879–1957) – one of the most significant personalities among Czechoslovakian numismatists and collectors of the 20th Century – has been omitted for decades. His interests, as well as the scope of his collections, were very wide and always went beyond European-wide significance. By coincidence, part of his collections remain untouched and have become part of the Czech national cultural heritage. Josef Michera was born into a farming family and was sent as typographer to Moscow in about 1900 to participate in the establishment of new printing enterprises. He lived with his wife, Maria, and later also with their daughter, Tamara, at Central (later Red) Square. Michera can be considered a very important person, efficient organiser and clever diplomat whose career lasted even into Soviet times. The origin of a considerable part of his collections was in Russia. Michera was purportedly in touch with many local private collectors and in revolutionary times acquired many objects for his collections as a good mobile investment. At the beginning of the 20s (no later than 1921), he moved to Slovakia and, according to verbal records, moved all his property and collections in an official railway coach. He again worked in his field for Slovenská Grafie in the new location, later as a director of this company in Bratislava. He also continued in his collecting activities there. He retired in the years 1946-7 and moved to Solnice (East Bohemia). In his Will, Michera bequeathed part of his collection to Solnice city. After his wife died, the whole inheritance – including a numismatic collection numbering 5,551 items – came as bona vacantia to the State. At the present time, it is for the most part administered by the National Museum in Prague. A lesser part of Michera’s collection is in the Arts and Crafts Museum in Prague, in the Institute of the History of Art of the Science Academy of the Czech Republic, the former Municipal Museum in Sokolnice and in the Municipal Museum in Bratislava. Other parts of the collection - mainly those which Michera sold during his lifetime – are either preserved in private ownership or considered as lost. It is possible to divide Josef Michera’s collections into the following categories: Numismatic collection 1. Roman, early Byzantine, Islamic and late medieval glass weights, vessel stamps and jetons 2. Coins 3. Banknotes Archaeological objects Historical glass, porcelain, wood carvings and metal objects Plaster casts of gems of the 19th Century Modern ceramics and wood carvings of the 20th Century Folk textiles and artifacts Paintings Historical weapons – rifles and pistols Jewellery Carpets and coverlets Books and manuscripts Stamps, stickers and shares Minerals Photographs Michera’s collection of Roman, early Byzantine, Islamic and late medieval glass weights, vessel stamps and jetons originally contained 209 exhibits (201 of which have survived to the present time) and they are situated in the Numismatical departments of the National Museum and the Náprstek Museum in Prague, as well as in the Municipal Museum in Bratislava. Preserved displays can be characterised by the following categories: Roman anonymous and undated jetons (2 pieces), early Byzantine undated jetons (1 piece), Umayan coin weights (1 piece), Umayan vessel stamps (5 pieces), Abbas coin weights (5 pieces), Abbas vessel stamps (3 pieces), early Islamic anonymous weights with marked face value (4 pieces), anonymous Islamic jetons with religious inscription (1 piece), Fatima jetons (126 pieces), contemporary imitations of Fatima jetons (27 pieces), Ayubian jetons (1 piece), Mamluck jetons (24 pieces) and European late-medieval jetons (1 piece).