The commonly accepted origin of the coin is the administrative initiative taken by King Darius of Persia. He ruled an immense empire extending from the center of Asia and India to Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, and taxes had to be collected for him. If those taxes had been given in kind, their presentation, transfer, conservation and use would have presented enormous difficulties. So the idea was advanced of fixing the equivalence of a certain amount of animals, grain, perishable goods or non-transferable materials with a small amount of gold. This would be well delimited in weight and shape and certified as correct by imprinting on it the figure of King Darius kneeling and aiming his bow. Consequently, that little piece of gold was submitted as tax instead of perishable or encumbrant materials. So the Daricus was born, and with it a very convenient standard of transactions, and bearing at the same time a touch of humanity.
The central element in a coin is the visual representation of the authority certifying the value. It is usually the face of a ruler; though certain ancient cities preferred the image of their main deity, or a symbol of an animal sacred to it. At the back would be a scene usually depicting, a group of animals or implements. Most often in modern coins, the coat of arms of the nation issuing the currency is placed. The legend minted around both figures gives the identification of the person of authority, his title, the year of issue, and its corresponding value. A small letter or a sign indicates the city or place of minting.
These details make a coin a condensed monument for the keen observer, and the association of one or several coins with some excavated ruins or with some preserved implements becomes a decisive factor for making these remnants of life in the past historical.
The coin as currency has been not only used, but frequently misused and mishandled, counterfeited, devalued, stolen, made into an indefinite variety of forms, private or official, legal or criminal, which are indicative of the historical and cultural variations of human life.
A good display of coins is one of the most valuable educational services a Museum could render to its visitors. The UST Museum’s coin collection was started, maintained and developed by the sheer personal interest and sense of value of Dominican professors. It was gathered rather than formally collected, and subjected to the changes brought about by a long and irregular series of caretakers.
The permanent numismatic display in the Museum Hall contains just a sampling of coins with significant cultural value. The coin collection of the UST Museum is the product of a long-sustained interest in historical and cultural research. It participated in the Regional Exposition of the Philippines as far back as 1895, and also in Hanoi, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, and Pairs, wherein the University earned outstanding awards, and some coins of the collection were considered meritorious. The collection has occasionally been lent to other institutions and to important commemorative exhibits.
The medal collection in the UST Museum is a modest one, and may be informative in tracing memorable events in Philippine history and the life of the University, as it is given prominence in the display.
In its history of almost four hundred years, the University has lived through many vicissitudes. Through its classrooms have passed prominent men and women who have shaped the face of the nation including saints, presidents, heroes and soldiers.
In the display you can still see the bell which was used call to students, and the dry seal whose stamp testified to the official recognition of their qualifications; the maces that opened the procession during the day of their graduation or in the solemn inauguration of the school year; the silver tray where their grades were cast by the tribunal of examinations, and other silent witnesses to a life started over 300 years ago.
Other examples of memorabilia around the campus are the Benavides Monument, created as a tribute to the University’s founder, Msgr. Fr. Miguel de Benavides, OP, third Archbishop of Manila.
There are also the statues on pedestals at the 4th floor of the Main Building. Made by the late Italian sculptor and former Head of the UST Department of Sculpture, Francesco Monti, the statues were erected during the rectoral term of Fr. Angel de Blas, OP (1949-1953) to symbolize the spiritual and intellectual aspirations of the University.
Browse Selected Pieces from the Collection: