Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Poland Issues Unique Commemoratives To Honor Murdered Priest Jerzy Popiełuszko

The National Bank of Poland has issued a series of coins in gold, silver and nordic gold to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the murder of Catholic Priest Jerzy Popieluszko. This sombre tribute to the charismatic priest, a popular figure amongst Poland's anti-communist movement in the 70's and 80's, is made all the more special with the striking of the special denomination gold proof to mark Popieluszko's 37 short years on earth.

Poland 2009 37Zl Jerzy Popieluszko Gold Proof

Jerzy Popieluszko was born September 14, 1947 in the north-eastern town of Okopy. He began his path against Communist rule in Poland when sent to speak with strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks, associating himself with members of the anti-communist Solidarity movement. Popieluszko would often intertwine both spiritual and political messages into his sermons, criticizing the Communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law in Poland between 1981 and 1983, the church was one of the few places that people were allowed to gather openly, allowing Popieluszko to continue spreading his message of freedom.

Popieluszko's sermons began to be broadcast on Radio Free Europe, and as his popularity grew he invoked the ire of the Służba Bezpieczeństwa, (Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) who made attempts to silence him with intimidation. When Popieluszko refused to back down they fabricated evidence against him and he was arrested, however he was soon pardoned by the clergy and given amnesty. Frustrated with their lack of ability the Służba Bezpieczeństwa orchestrated a car accident meant to kill Popieluszko. He escaped this but was subsequently kidnapped and murdered by agents of the department.

News of Popieluszko's death created a huge uproar throughout Poland, with some 250,000 people arriving for his funeral in November 1984. He was just 37 years of age.

Poland 2009 10Zl Jerzy Popieluszko Silver Proof

Each coin in this poignant series features imagery inspired by Jerzy Popieluszko's life and death. The 16mm gold proof coin, struck from 1.75 grams of 90% gold shows a crowd of funeral attendees, all raising crosses in the air. Below is the motto most associated with Popieluszko, "Overcome evil with good", while on the obverse is the special 37 zloty denomination. No other coin issued from Poland has made a commemoration in this way.

The silver proof coin, struck from 14.14 grams of sterling silver (92.5%) on a 32mm flan has the image of Popieluszko deep in thought against a background of a cracked Poland. Embedded in the coin is a red teardrop-shaped zircon crystal. The obverse shows a partial image of Popieluszko's gravestone, with a single rose laid upon it.

Finally, the 2 zloty nordic gold issue has a striking portrait of Popieluszko on the reverse, together with the image of thousands of mourners and candles upheld at his funeral service. The coin measures 27mm and weighs 8 grams.

Poland 2009 2Zl Jerzy Popieluszko Nordic Gold BU

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Austrian Mint Announce Coin Issuing Schedule For 2010

The Austrian Mint has just released their Issuing Programme for 2010 with plenty to interest collectors amongst the popular ongoing coin series'.

January - The year starts out with the release of not one but two 5 euro commemoratives in silver, struck to celebrate the 2010 Winter Games that are being held in Vancouver, Canada from February 12. The two coin commemorate the sports of Ski-jump and Snowboard respectively and will be available in both Uncirculated (mintage 225,000 each) and Brilliant Uncirculated (50,000 each).

February - Continuing the high quality "Celebrated Physicians of Austria" 50 euro gold proof series in 2010 is issue honoring Karl Landsteiner, noted for his development in 1901 of the modern system of classification of blood groups from his identification of the presence of agglutinins in the blood, and in 1930 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
It was announced on January 23, 2010 that the Karl Landsteiner Gold coin has been cancelled because the Austrian Mint was unable to clarify the personal rights with the descendants in North America. As such the mint is planning to issue a different coin to complete the Great Physicians series later in the year. This coin is expected to be released in late May.

March - This month sees the next release in the widely popular Silver/Niobium series of commemorative coins, dedicated to "Renewable Energy". The 25 euro legal tender coins in this series, first started in 2003, have grown in appeal over the years to be one of the Mint's most popular products.

April - The "Tales and Legends of Austria" silver series began in 2009 and with only 2 coins released at the time of this article, it has proved to be a wise theme choice for the Mint. With the 10 euro coins issued in Uncirculated, Brilliant Uncirculated and Proof quality, there is a coin for every budget and collectors of world coins have been snapping them up in fast and furious style. Each year for 3 years the series sees two new designs released, with the first for 2010 being dedicated to the Erzberg, also known as the Ennstaler Alps, in Styria.

May - Taking the place of the successful "Austrian Railways" series is a new run of 20 euro coins named "Rome on the Danube". These coins commemorate various towns located in Austria along the famous Danube river that were established during the time of the Roman Empire. Claudium Virunum was a Roman city in the province of Noricum, on today's Zollfeld in the Austrian State of Carinthia.

June - The first of the Austrian coin sets are released in June, and as is tradition in previous years, the release of the second of the year's 5 euro coinage is available on the same day. The mint set for 2010 will include all 8 circulating coinage from Austria, struck to brilliant uncirculated quality and housed in a full-colour informative coin folder. The 5 euro commemorative will honor the 75th anniversary of the famous Grossglockner High Alpine Road, that connects the state of Salzburg with the state of Carinthia. Named after the Großglockner, Austria's highest mountain, the road is panoramic and features many sharp curves through the mountain side, producing spectacular views of the ranges.

September - The first release for the latter half of the year sees the second in the "Rome on the Danube" silver coin series made available. This coin commemorates Vindobona, originally a Celtic settlement before becoming a Roman military camp, situated at the site of modern day Vienna. The town is known for being the place where Marcus Aurelius died in the year 180.

October - The second "Tales and Legends of Austria" silver coin release is dedicated to the story of Charlemange (Emperor Karl, Charles the Great) in the Untersberg Mountains. October also sees the highly regarded Austrian proof set of coins issued for 2010, containing all 8 circulating coins of Austria struck to exquisite proof quality.

November - The final issue for the year will be the third in the stunningly detailed gold proof series paying tribute to the Crowns of the House of Hapsburg, with the Hungarian Crown of St Stephen being recreated in stunning 98.6% gold.

Undoubtedly an exciting year ahead for lovers of Austrian Mint numismatic products! As official distributor for the Austrian Mint, Euro Collections International is able to supply stocks of the above items on the the day of their release from the mint. Be sure to follow us on Twitter or sign up to our weekly newsletter for notification of the latest arrivals to our website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mennica Polska Issues 3rd Coin in Popular Amber Route Commemorative Series

The third coin to be issued in the "Amber Route" series of gold and silver proof coins is also the first to be released in 2009. The coins commemorate the ancient town of Elblag, located in the north of Poland and like previous issues in this popular collector series, each coin is enhanced with a genuine half-sphere of natural amber embedded into the coin itself.

Niue Island 2009 $1 Elblag Amber Route Silver Proof

The Amber Road is an ancient trade route, leading from Asia to Europe, used predominately by the Romans to transport precious natural amber from the Baltic and North seas, back to Rome. While Rome is best known for using the route, it was also used years before the Romans to move amber to Greece and Egypt, via routes from northern Europe to the Mediterranean Sea. The old Prussian town of Laup (Mokhovoye, in the Kaliningrad Oblast) and the seaport town of Truso (now Elblag) are thought to be the starting points for the route heading south.

The series of coins issued by Mennica Polska include one gold coin and one silver coin for each city being commemorated along the route. The coins are struck to the highest standards of proof by the mint, and feature similar designs for both coins, with the exception of their denominations. All up there will be 8 coins released in the Amber Route series, honoring the towns of Kaliningrad (Russia), Gdansk, Elblag and Wroclaw (Poland), Stare Hradisko (Czech Republic), Szombathely (Hungary), Carnuntum (Austria) and Aquileia (Italy), each with a natural piece of high quality amber embedded as part of the reverse design.

This third release pays tribute to Elblag, the ancient town located in the North of Poland on the Baltic Sea. The town is built on the site of the seaport known a Truso, one of the alleged starting points for the route. Truso was destroyed by fire sometime in the 10th century and lay in ruins until the 13th century when the Tuetonic Knights built a citadel there during the Prussian Crusade. From there a town was built.

The silver proof has been struck from 28.28 grams of 92.5% silver on a 38.61mm flan. The coin has been treated to give it an antiqued appearance of old money. It comes encapsulated and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity confirming the mintage of 10,000 coins. The gold proof coin is struck from 15.50 grams of 90% gold on a 27.00mm flan, and is also encapsulated and presented with a certificate. The mintage of the coin gold is set at a tiny 2000 coins released worldwide.

Niue Island 2009 $5 Elblag Amber Route Gold Proof

The reverse design of both coins is the same, and features a depiction of the St Nicholas Church, the medieval Roman Catholic cathedral in Elblag, together with a dual portrait Roman coin, as used in the times of the amber route, and a Roman goblet. In the bottom portion is the 10.00mm half sphere of natural amber, while at the top is the inscription "Elblag - Szlak Bursztynowy" (Elblag - Amber Route). The obverse, common to all coins in the Amber Route series, has the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, together with the country and year of issue and the nominal face value ($1 for silver, $5 for gold). Above is the image of a horse-drawn cart, as used to transport amber to Rome, together with the profile of a Roman guard set against the background of the Baltic coast. At the top is the "Amber Route" inscription.

Other coins available in this series are:

2008 $1 Kaliningrad Silver Proof - BACK IN STOCK!
2008 $1 Gdansk Amber Route Silver Proof
2008 $5 Gdansk Amber Route Gold Proof

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Austrian Mint Issues 2nd Silver Coins In "Tales and Legends" Series

October 7, 2009: The second in the 6-issue series of silver coins dedicated to the "Tales and Legends of Austria" has been released by the Austrian Mint. The coins, available in both silver proof and silver brilliant uncirculated quality, have been struck to pay tribute to the story of the English King Richard I, known as "Lionheart", and his capture by the Austrian Duke Leopold.

Austria 2009 10€ King Richard I Lionheart Silver Proof

As the story goes, while Richard I was on the crusades he offended the Austrian Duke Leopold V by removing the Austrian banners of the conquered city of Acre (located in modern day Israel). Leopold and his German troops then returned to Austria, and some time after Richard decided to return to England. On his travels home the ship he was sailing on wrecked, and he was forced to travel over land, passing through Austria without the permission of the Duke. To avoid capture the King dressed in peasant clothes but was eventually apprehended at a restaurant outside of Vienna. His capture was blamed on locals spying expensive clothes under his peasant rags, as well as the fact that he ordered chicken from the restaurant, a dish out of financial reach of peasants in that day.

Richard was held prisoner at the castle of Duernstein which leaders from throughout Europe negotiated his release. In fact, most rulers were happy to have his head on a plate as it would mean they were open to invading England for themselves. Even the King's own brother showed very little enthusiasm for his brother's freedom, on account that the death of the King would mean the brother would take the throne. In the end it was the King's mother who secured a sizeable ransom, said to be made of some 22 tons of silver, and King Richard was released.

It is also said that during the time of the King's incarceration, his loyal minstrel, Blondel rode throughout Austria singing songs the King and he had composed together. While passing the Castle at Duernstein the king overhead the minstrel song and was able to notify Blondel of his position.

The silver paid for the release of King Richard I is significant to the Austrian Mint, as Duke Leopold V used a portion of the silver to begin the Vienna Mint, which eventually became the Austrian Mint. Started in 1194, the mint is the oldest continually operating company in Austria and this years celebrates it's 815th year of operation.

On the reverse is a depiction of the capture of King Richard I by Duke Leopold. The scene is taken from the restaurant outside of Vienna where the King was apprehended, and shows some of the tell-tale symbols that led to the capture - namely the official garments hidden beneath the peasant robes the King wore to avoid detection, the stately ring on his right hand, and the chicken cooking on the spit in the background. The inscription around the bottom of the coin reads: "Gefangennahme von Richard Lowenherz" (Capture of Richard, Lionheart).

The obverse, shown in the Austrian Mint stunningly detailed design style, shows Blondel on horseback, riding towards Duernstein Castle while playing the melodies he composed with the King. At the top right is the country of issue inscription "Republic of Austria", and the banner for Duernstein. At the bottom is the nominal face value of 10 euros and the year of issue (2009).

Austria 2009 10€ King Richard I Lionheart Silver BU

Both the high quality proof edition and the brilliant uncirculated silver issue have been struck from 16 grams of 92.5% sterling silver from a 32.00mm flan. The proof coin has a maximum mintage of 40,000 and is supplied in an official Austrian Mint case with Certificate of Authenticity. The BU version has a total mintage of 30,000 and is presented in a full-colour informative (German and English) coin folder.

These coins are the second in the series of Tales and Legends, coming after the popular Basilisk fable coin released in April this year.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Germany Issues Silver Coins To Mark 100th Anniversary Of First Youth Hostel

August 13, 2009: To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the very first youth hostel, and the growth of the German Youth Hostel Association and Hostelling International (formerly International Youth Hostel Federation), the Karlsruhe mint in German has issued a silver proof and silver BU coin as part of the regular German silver coin program.

Germany 2009 10€ Youth Hostels Silver Proof

The very first youth hostel was started by schoolteacher Richard Schirrmann and conservationist Wilhelm Münker in 1909 in the town of Altena (Nordrhein-Westfalen) in Germany's west. Their plan was to offer cheap overnight accommodation to students on school tours travelling the German countryside. This first hostel was located in Schirrmann's own school at Altena, although it was moved to Altena Castle in 1912 where it still opwerates today.

The idea of youth hostels quickly spread, first throughout Germany and then the rest of the world. In 1919 Schirrmann founded the German Youth Hostel Association, and in 1932 the International Youth Hostel Federation was started. Later this would become Hostelling International, which overseas more than 4000 youth hostels worldwide. Youth hostels, know no longer exclusive to the young and more often called backpacker hostels, provide affordable temporary accommodation throughout the world for travellers all over the globe. While some are simply nothing more than a room to sleep in, others have transformed over the years to become a home away from home for backpackers, with bars, karaoke, tours and other activities designed to bring travellers together.

As is the tradition with silver coins issued from the various German mints, the two coins released to celebrate the youth hostel anniversary feature the same design while being of differing quality. The reverse of each coin featured the modern logo of the German Youth Hostel Association, with the anniversary inscribed inside it. Below is an image of the town of Altena, where the first hostel is located, while below that are the years of the anniversary.

Germany 2009 10€ Youth Hostels Silver BU

The obverse carries the Eagle motif, State Emblem of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Eagle has been designed to compliment the reverse image. Also on this side is the country and year of issue, together with the nominal face value of 10 euro.

Each coin is struck from 18 grams of 92.5% sterling silver from a 32.50mm disc, either in brilliant uncirculated condition or in high quality proof standards. The Proof coin is supplied in a capsule, while the BU edition comes in a protective plastic flip.