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.

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