Indulgence chest, 16th century
(padlock from Zoth century)
Iron plates studded with straps, forged lid lock with five bolts
Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt
Buyers of indulgences put their contributions in chests, which became a flashpoint of the Reformation. They were encouraged by slogans, including this one attributed to Johannes Tetzel, Albert of Brandenburg's chief agent for the sale of indulgences: "As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs."
Agents could count the money in the iron dish around the coin slot before dropping it in. The locks sealing the chest required several keys held by different people, so that the chest couldn't be opened unless all the key holders were present. Local German officials were alarmed at how much wealth was leaving their territories-and headed for Rome-in these chests.