Friday, September 19, 2008

Ancient Towns Of Russia Coin Series

When it comes to coin collecting there are many options to choose from. Some collect individual pieces while others ravenously snap up coins from a particular series. In the realm of modern world coins there are literally hundreds of different series' being produced all over the world, with some coin series' going back many years. One coin series that has been building in popularity over the years is the Russian coin series entitled "Ancient Towns of Russia."

In 2002 a series of bi-metallic Russian coins featuring ancient towns was begun by the Central Bank of Russia. Each year coins were produced that pay tribute to a different city in Russia, where the city was established anywhere between 700 and 1000 years ago. Some of the cities have no recorded establishment, only a first mention in a particular journal, while others have evidence of settlements dating as far back as BC.

Unlike a lot of coin programs throughout the world there is no set regularity to the number of coins released each year in this series, with some years seeing 4 coins issued and other years only 3. This inconsistency can frustrate collectors, as they often look forward to knowing a set number of issues will be released in any given year. Still, that doesn't seem to have slowed the interest level on this historic series, as collectors the world over ponder on the next ancient city to be honored.

There are, however, a few consistencies with regards to the coins themselves, as there should be with any good coin series. For the Ancient Towns of Russia series these include the bi-metallic composition of the coins, made from Brass (Outer Rim) and Cupro-Nickel (Inner Disc). Each coin features the same Obverse design; that of the denomination of 10 Rubles in the center disc (Represented by the number ‘10’ and the word “РУБЛЕЙ” (RUBLES). The number ‘0’ features a latent image generally used as a security measure against counterfeiting. These latent images are becoming more common throughout modern world coins with countries such as the Ukraine and Japan, amongst others, adopting the technique. When held at varying angles, the image on the Ancient Towns of Russia coins shows either ‘10’ or “РУБ” (RUB). In the outer rim at the top of the coin are the words “БАНК РОССИИ” (BANK OF RUSSIA), while at the bottom is always the year of issue. At either side of the coin are stylized twigs that cross over from outer rim to inner disc. The twigs may just be a design element or perhaps they have a greater significance. While this is a standard design for the Ancient Towns of Russia coin series, it is also the design used for all commemorative bi-metallic 10 Ruble Russian coins issued by the Central Bank of Russia.

The Reverse of each coin, while commemorating a different town, does carry consistent features. Those being the inscription of “ДРЕВНИЕ ГОРОДА РОССИИ” (ANCIENT RUSSIAN TOWNS) shown in the outer rim at the top of the coin, as well as the name of each town at the bottom of the coin. The inner disc image always features a view of the town being represented (of course), usually with a prominent landmark featured in the design if appropriate. The coat of arms for the town is also always shown, always in the upper portion of the inner disc.

As yet we have no information as to when the series will end. Russia is full of cities many centuries old so the opportunity to keep the series running for several more years is certainly there – and why not? The series represents a lasting tribute to places in Russia many of us would never have known about, let alone visited, had it not been for the coins in this series. The more attractive element of the series being that the coins are issued at a very reasonable price for collectors - and while the high mintages may mean that there isn’t going to be a huge appreciation in value over the years, those who do stick with it will find themselves with a unique and telling collection of coins that represent a little-known aspect of one of the oldest countries on Earth.

At the time of this article the following coins have been issued:

2002 Derbent
2002 Kostroma
2002 Staraya Russa

2003 Dorogobuzh
2003 Kasimow
2003 Murom
2003 Pskov

2004 Dmitrov
2004 Kemy
2004 Rijask

2005 Borovsk
2005 Kaliningrad
2005 Kazan
2005 Mcensk

2006 Belgorod
2006 Kargopol
2006 Torzhok

2007 Veliky Ustyug
2007 Vologda
2007 Gdov

2008 Vladimir

2008 Azov

2008 Smolensk

Euro Collections International currently has all released coins from this series available in stock, with plans to source future issues as they are released. You can check out the entire list of coins currently available in this series by visiting our Ancient Towns of Russia Category.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Latest Austrian Railways Silver Proof Released Today!

September 10, 2008 sees the release of the 4th coin in the beautifully designed and enormously popular Austrian Railways Silver Proof coin series. This stunning 20€ Silver Proof commemorates the Empress Elisabeth West Railway which was constructed between 1856 and 1860 and ran from Vienna to Salzburg.

The Austrian Railways coin series began in 2007 and will run until 2009 with a total of 6 coins being released over that period. 2007 saw the release of coins commemorating the Northern and Southern railways, considered the most important rail lines in the country. The 3rd coin in the series paid tribute to the Belle Epoque railway of the 19th and early 20th Century. With each coin released in the series comes a greater wave of popularity as coin collector and railway enthusiast alike appreciate the superbly detailed design and expert craftsmanship that goes into each of these stunning 20 Euro issues.

Austria 2008 20€ Empress Elisabeth Railway Silver Proof

The following information about the 2008 Empress Elisabeth Silver Proof has been supplied by the Austrian Mint:

Construction began in 1856 and by late 1858 the line had reached the city of Linz. In the next two years the line was extended to Salzburg, the first train from Vienna arriving on 26th May, 1860. The official opening was not until 12th August. On that day the Emperor Franz Joseph coming from Vienna and King Maximilian II of Bavaria coming from Munich arrived in the Salzburg Railway Station at precisely the same time. The official opening was followed by celebrations first in Munich and then in Vienna. The new line would also be used by Franz Joseph to travel to his beloved Bad Ischl in Summer, and by the Empress Elisabeth herself to travel home to see her family in Bavaria.

The locomotive 306 which appears on the obverse of the new coin, was designed and built in 1908 by the chief engineer Karl Gölsdorf. Unfortunately, it proved insufficiently strong to move the new heavy express trains and consequently only three engines of this model were constructed. The locomotive 306 was then employed in pulling the imperial court trains which Emperor Franz Joseph and members of the imperial family used on their frequent journeys throughout the Empire. Each line placed such a special train at the disposal of the imperial family, although the journeys themselves were billed to the court.

In 1881 the Empress Elisabeth West Railway, which had been struggling with financial problems, fell victim to the government’s plans to bring all the railways under the control of the Imperial State Railways. The entire network of lines and the running of all trains were incorporated into the state system. In 1884 the Empress Elisabeth West Railway was officially nationalised. After the First World War with the dismemberment of the Habsburg Empire, the North and South Railways declined in significance. The West Railway became (and remains) the most important line in the Republic of Austria.

The new silver 20-Euro coin shows the locomotive 306 steaming across an iron railway bridge. The reverse side depicts the platform hall of the West Railway Station in Vienna. A train has just arrived and the passengers begin to disembark. A railway official stands with a timetable in hand to assist passengers with inquiries. To the right is the statue of the Empress Elisabeth, who gave her name to the line. This figure was in the entrance to the old station, and although damaged in the Second World War, it stood until recently in the entrance hall of the new West Station.

As with all the issues in the Austrian Railways series, the 2008 Empress Elisabeth Silver Proof has been struck from .900 silver and has a maximum mintage of 50,000. Each individual coin is presented in it's own stylish case with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity. Also available as a separate product is an official Austrian Railways case with space to beautifully display all coins in this series.

Also Available:

Northern Railway

Southern Railway

Belle Epoque Railway

Austrian Railways Series Case

You can also visit the Austrian Railways section of ECI to view all the coins currently available in this series.