Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Silver Coin Series From Austrian Mint - "Tales and Legends of Austria"

On April 15, 2009 the Austrian Mint released the first in a new series of silver coins entitled "Tales and Legends of Austria". The series, a sub series of the "Austria and Her People" coin program, will see six different silver collector coins issued over 3 years in both Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated quality, making 12 coins released in total. There will also be a circulation issue of each coin available at face value through various Austrian banks.

Austria 2009 10€ The Basilisk Of Vienna Silver Proof

The first release in this compelling program is dedicated to the Legend of the Basilisk of Vienna. The tale, dating back to the early 13th century, tells of an apprentice baker who finds a hideous Basilisk in a well. A group of unwitting workers had uncovered the beast, who had been hibernating for several centuries under the baker's shop. The Basilisk is an obscure creature that those who don't play Dungeons and Dragons or watch Harry Potter movies may not know about. Basically it is described as being part snake, part cockerel and part toad, giving off a poisonous gas that kills all who breath it in. The most chilling aspect of the Basilisk, however, is that one look in it's eye can render a man dead by petrification.

The legend continues that a meeting is called in the town as it is decided that the only way to defeat the Basilisk is to use a mirror to show the beast it's own reflection. At first there are no volunteers to go down in the well to take on the creature, until the baker's apprentice raises his hand. Turns out he and the baker's daughter are very much in love, but the baker would never allow a lowly apprentice to marry his daughter. The apprentice agrees to challenge the Basilisk in return for the hand of the daughter - and the baker reluctantly agrees. The boy then ventures down to the well and confronts the Basilisk with it's own reflection, causing it's immediate petrification. The boy returns to marry the baker's daughter and the townspeople fill the well with stones and earth to stop any toxic fumes from escaping.

Known for their expert craftsmanship in designing stunningly detailed coin images the sculptors at the Austrian Mint have not disappointed with this latest release. Shown on the reverse is an image taken from the tale, where the baker's apprentice confronts the Basilisk with a mirror and the creature sees it's own reflection for the first time. The apprentice can be seen peeking over the top of the mirror while townspeople timidly watch over the lip of the well. At the bottom is the title "Der Basilisk" (The Basilisk). The attention to detail in the stone walls of the well and the Basilisk reptilian skin are first rate. The obverse takes the detail even further, with a beautifully recreated depiction of modern Schoenlaterngasse (Lovely Lantern Lane where the baker's shop is located at No. 7), still retaining it's medieval appearance. The fine detail of the cobblestones, the windows and doors of the charming buildings is breathtaking to behold. At the top is the denomination of 10 euros, while to the bottom is the inscription for "Austrian Republic".

The coins have been struck from 16 grams of 92.5% sterling silver on a 32mm flan. The 2009 10€ Basilisk Proof issue has a maximum mintage of 40,000 and is presented in an attractive, official Austrian Mint jewel case. The 2009 10€ Basilisk Brilliant Uncirculated edition is capped at 30,000 and comes in a full-colour coin card with a depiction of the fearsome Basilisk on the cover.

Euro Collections has both proof and BU issues available now to order from our website. Given the theme of this series and the public interest in fantasy tales and legends from days of old this will no doubt be a popular release that will grow with each subsequent issue. In October the Austrian Mint will release the 2nd silver coin in the series, this time focused on the story of the imprisonment of Richard the Lionheart in the castle of Dürnstein on the Danube river, and the search for him by his loyal minstrel Blondel.

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