The numismatic department of the National Museum is the leading scientific workplace in its field. It holds the largest collection relating to the origins and development of money in the Czech lands as well as in Europe and worldwide. It also holds medals, occasional coins, orders, decorations and other related material.
Franz Josef Count Sternberg-Manderscheid/František Josef Šternberk-Manderscheid was the true founder of the numismatic collection – besides coinage, he donated to the museum extensive manuscript material in the form of a card catalogue, a collection of Czech coinage regulations, other manuscript notes on minting and contemporary literature. In 1830, the bibliothecary of the National Museum, Václav Hanka (1791-1861) was appointed to administer the collection. Despite some unfavourable judgements of his work by some numismatics, it was he who put together the earliest German catalogue of the collection and who, in 1859, made a purchase of 700 Czech coins and medals from the famous collection of Vilém Killian. Under Josef Smolík (1832–1915), who in 1881 became the first real curator of the numismatic collection, it expanded, primarily thanks to the systematic collection of finds. The collection moved from Nostitz Palace to what is now the Historical Building of the National Museum on Wenceslaus Square, where the first numismatic exhibition was installed. Thanks to the care of Gustav Skalský (1891-1956), the collection became a centre of scientific research across Czechoslovakia, expanding from 30,000 to 130,000 pieces. In 1922 a new numismatic exhibition was created, and the work on the creation of a perfect professional library that had started previously was continued. After World War II the collection expanded to three quarters of a million pieces, due to the transfer of confiscated pieces to the National Museum. At present, the numismatic collection of the National Museum holds over 1 million collection items, and approximately half of them have been expertly catalogued so far.