The first version of the Vienna Philharmonic to be launched, and by some considerable time, the gold coin debuted in October 1989. Initially available in 1oz and ¼oz sizes, it wasn’t until 1991 that a 1/10oz coin was added, and 1994 when a ½oz coin joined the lineup. In 2014 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Gold Philharmonic, a 1/25oz coin joined the lineup. All coins from 1989 to 2001 were denominated in Austrian Schillings, but in 2002 with the introduction of the Euro to Austria, the Philharmonic began to be denominated in the fledgling currency.
The design has the purest reverse side of the three metals now available, the only one not to carry the composition at the top, and is the only one available in fractional form. It’s been an extremely popular coin with the World Gold Council declaring it the world’s most popular in 1992, 1995, 1996 and 200o. It will likely take that honour in 2015 if sales turn out to be as high as expected. As of September 2015, sales of the Gold Philharmonic were greater than the American Eagle and Perth Mint gold bullion coins combined, an impressive achievement. The Austrian Mint claims that if all the Gold Philharmonics sold were stacked into one pillar, it would be 15km (9.3miles) high.
There have been three special issues of the Philharmonic coin. In 2004 for the 15th anniversary, the Austrian Mint produced a 1,000 ounce (31.103kg) coin of a staggering 370mm diameter and 20mm thickness. Only 15 were ever produced and the coin picked up the nickname ‘Big Phil’. Until the launch of the 100kg Gold Maple Leaf by the Royal canadian Mint in 2007, Big Phil was the a record holder.
In 2009, the mint launched a 20 ounce (622g) coin for the 20th anniversary, with a denomination of €2,000. With a 74mm diameter and a thickness of 8.3mm, a total of 6,027 coins were produced, 2,009 each for the European, American and Japanese markets. The 25th anniversary in 2014 saw a somewhat humbler, but far better celebration with the launch of a 1/25th ounce coin that remains in the range to this day. A proof set comprising a 1oz and a ¼oz were also made available, with a mintage limited to 5,000 sets.