The Engines of Our Ingenuity

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The Maria Theresa Thaler


I was driving to work this week, listening to our local NPR station when a story came on that piqued my interest. "Today, the almighty Thaler. The Honors College at the University of Houston presents this program about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them."


"The Engines of Our Ingenuity" is a local radio program produced by the University of Houston that tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. Each show lasts just a few minutes, and a different episode is broadcast 5 days per week. The show first aired in 1988 and has been locally and nationally broadcast ever since. As of November 19, 2015, 3031 new episodes will have been aired.


I've been listening to this show for years and on Tuesday I found it even more informative that usual. I've seen Maria Theresa Thalers, all dated 1780, at every coin show I've ever been to. They are outside my area of interest and so prolific that I never bothered to find out anything about them. I will forever view them differently after hearing their history. If you're interested, transcripts and audio of every episode can be found on the Engines web site at (


After hearing about Maria Theresa and her Thaler, I decided to see if there were other episodes with a numismatic theme. Below is a list of all of the episodes I found that may be of interest to folks reading this journal.


Episode #

1347 - Inventing Money: (

1689 - Numismatics (

2003 - Counterfeit: On making money without delivering the goods (

2380 - Isaac Newton's other life as Master of the Royal Mint: (

2733 - American culture and the inscriptions on U.S. Coins (

2801 - The Maria Theresa Thaler (

2986 - Simon Stevin and The Rise of Decimal Currency (


And a few more that are indirectly related...


0915 - In which power and gold shape California (

1485 - Ship of gold in the Deep Blue Sea (

1486 - What is gold worth today? Not as much as it was (

1648 - Building a dirigible to get to the California gold rush (

1656 - Electric power comes to Telluride, Colorado (

1901 - Philipp Deidesheimer and the remarkable timber square set (


This radio show is a great local gem that is available to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of "the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them."


I do not own a Maria Theresa Thaler, so I apologize that I have no picture to go with this post.


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These look pretty cool! I'll definitely be looking at several of these links in the coming months. The episode on numismatics has a depiction of an ancient coin with a quadriga, or in other words a four horse Roman war chariot. Interestingly, I have a modern Italian coin with a four horse chariot that I haven't wrote on because I couldn't determine its significance. Well because of your link, no longer!





Edited by gherrmann44
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