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.

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