A round up of issues from Slovakia for the first half of 2021 – Mountains, Caves & Music

With the release of the Bank of Slovakia’s latest silver coin today, we thought we’d have a little round-up of their releases for 2021 to date. Obviously, as is often the norm with Eastern European countries, there are a lot of quite esoteric subjects which may not travel well around the world, but there are some that will have universal appeal.

Case in point is the neat mountaineering coin that debuted today, and the previous one ‘Cave of Destiny’. All but one are 18 gram 0.900 silver issues, with a solitary 33.6 gram 0.925 offering. Each issue is available in both a proof finish and a brilliant uncirculated variant, with each having a fixed mintage. The proof one is actually the most common of the two.

All coins should be available to buy now, and we’ve seen the smaller coins selling at official dealers for under €30, so they’re not expensive. They do come with a Certificate of Authenticity, and most dealers sell them boxed. An eclectic selection. We’ll do similar roundups of neighbouring countries over the coming weeks.

FIRST ASCENT OF NANGA PARBAT BY SLOVAK CLIMBERS

There are myriad peaks and mountain ranges on the earth, but only 14 of them are more than 8,000 metres in height above sea level, all located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia. It was there, a century ago, that expeditions from different nations began competing to be the first to conquer the eight-thousanders. In 1950 French climbers made the first conquest—Annapurna (8,091 m)—and in 1964 Chinese climbers summited the last unclimbed eight-thousander, Shishapangma (8,013 m).

For geopolitical reasons, Czech and Slovak climbers were unable to take part in this race. In 1969, during a lull in political tensions, Slovak mountaineer Ivan Gálfy managed to organise the “Tatra Expedition to the Himalayas” with the goal of climbing Nanga Parbat (8,125 m). The expedition, however, did not achieve its objective. Two years later, the undeterred Gálfy put together another expedition consisting of 16 climbers, mostly from Slovakia. From May 1971 they worked tirelessly on preparing an ascent route, again via the Rakhiot Flank, and then on 11 July 1971 four climbers set out on the final ascent from the highest camp, at 7,600 m. Only two of them—Ivan Fiala and Michal Orolín—reached the main summit of Nanga Parbat. Their success triggered a wave of joy in Czechoslovakia, especially among the Slovak public, which reverberated for several years to come.

OBVERSE: depicts the climbers Ivan Fiala and Michal Orolín after reaching the summit of Nanga Parbat in 1971; they are holding an ice axe to which is attached the Czechoslovak flag, and Fiala is also hold¬ing the karabiner that he would leave on the summit.

REVERSE: right side of the reverse design depicts the summit of Nanga Parbat. On the left side, in the foreground, there is the figure of a climber on a rock face. In the upper left quadrant is the name ‘NANGA PARBAT’. Inscribed above the mountain’s name is its height ‘8125 m’, and below the name is year ‘1971’,

EDGE: PRVÝ ÚSPECH SLOVENSKÝCH HOROLEZCOV V HIMALÁJACH u

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
€10 EURO 0.900 silver 18.0 g 34.0 mm Proof or BU 6,500 / 2,600 YES / YES

DISCOVERY OF THE DEMANOVSKA CAVE OF LIBERTY

The Demänovská Cave of Liberty is part of the Demänovská Cave System, which is more than 41 km long. The cave system is notable for a diversity of flowstone structures that come in a plethora of shapes and sizes and feature an interplay of colours and hues. There are imposing, corridor-linked halls and domes, as well as the Demänovka Stream which formed the whole cave system. The Demänovská Cave of Liberty is one of the most beautiful caves in Slovakia. It was discovered in August 1921 by a Moravian teacher called Alois Král, who entered it via the Demänovka sinkhole.

He found an impressive watercourse and a magnificent array of spaces and flowstone decorations, which led to the cave originally being named the “Temple of Liberty”. Life in the cave reflects the presence and quality of water. Largely because of their importance as a waterfowl biotope and underground wetland, the Demänovská Cave of Freedom and other caves of the Demänovská Valley are included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance under the Convention on Wetlands. The coin design harks back to the cave’s discovery by portraying a mattock and carbide lamp – tools used to penetrate the cave’s darkness for the first time.

OBVERSE: left side is filled with an image of theDemänovská Cave of Liberty’s impressive speleothems. Around this image are examples of the cave’s rare fauna: two palpigrades and two beetles of the family Duvalius.

REVERSE: On the right side is a large circular inset depicting Alois Král in the process of discovering the cave – crawling down into it via a dry ponor of the Demänovka Stream. This image also includes a carbide lamp emitting rays of light and, at the bottom, the year ‘1921’ in which the cave was discovered. On the left, the larger part of the design depicts the cave’s dripstone formations together with lakes and other structures.

EDGE: OSOBITOSTI PRÍRODY SLOVENSKA

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
€20 EURO 0.925 Silver 33.63 g 40.0 mm Proof or BU 6,450 / 2,700 YES / YES

KREMNICA UNDERGROUND POWER PLANT

Around the town of Kremnica, miners have for centuries been drawing out natural treasures from the earth. The need to find a symbiosis between mining activity and water, which for miners is a good servant but bad master, gave rise to electricity generation, something we take for granted today. Located in spaces at the level of Kremnica’s Main Hereditary Adit, 245 metres below ground, an underground hydroelectric plant has since 1921 been transforming strong flowing water into electrical energy. It is a major feat of technical prowess.

The length of the adit between shaft IV at Kremnica and its outlet at the Hron River is 11 km. The elevation over that distance is only 5.5 metres, and in places the water seems to flow into the hill. Shaft IV is today the only operational shaft at this location. The shaft, engine room, and hoist still operate in their original condition. With water flowing in at a rate of 1 200 litres per second, the plant has a generating capacity of 2.16 MW. With such plants being rare in Europe, the underground hydroelectric plant in Kremnica has been designated a Slovak national cultural heritage site. Its operator, the mining company Kremnická banská spoločnosť, s.r.o., aims to maintain the plant’s uniqueness and beauty, just as we have inherited it.

OBVERSE: depicts the wheel of the hoist that services the shaft above the underground hydroelectric plant in Kremnica.

REVERSE: depicts, in the lower right quadrant, the Kremnica underground hydroelectric power plant and, on the left side, the mine’s surface buildings connected with the Turčekovský water pipeline and with subterranean mine workings. The lower left quadrant includes an upper aperture on to a rail switch inside the mine and a lower aperture showing water flowing out of the adit.

EDGE: ELEKTRINA – NOVÉ ZLATO PRE KREMNICKÝCH BANÍKOV

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
€10 EURO 0.900 silver 18.0 g 34.0 mm Proof or BU 6,200 / 2,600 YES / YES

ANNIVERSARY OF THE SLOVAK TEACHERS CHOIR

The Slovak Teachers’ Choir (Spevácky zbor slovenských učiteľov – SZSU) is a Slovakia-based male teachers’ choir that enjoys a high reputation both at home and abroad. Its establishment was linked with the town of Trenčín and with names such as Gabriel Valocký and Miloš Ruppeldt. Since 3 March 1921, the choir has been a fine exponent of the artistic aspiration captured in the motto of M. Rázus: “To inspire love for the nation through singing”. The choir sings folk, patriotic and sacral songs and has given thousands of performances.

ts tenor and bass singing have been honed by its conductors, including M. Ruppeldt, J. Strelec, J. Valach, J. Haluzický, P. Hradil and Š. Sedlický. The choir has won numerous major awards, with composers such as M. Moyzes, M. S. Trnavský, J. V. Dolinský, V. Figuš-Bystrý, J. Cikker, E. Suchoň, P. Špilák and T. Vrškový having composed for it directly. A permanent home for the choir was established in Trenčianske Teplice in 1933 thanks to support from J. Geryk, a donation from the local spas, and contributions from teachers. This base, called Domov SZSU, has been run by the state since 1968 and continues to provide a quality location for artistic work and relaxation.

OBVERSE: The central image is based on the logo of the Slovak Teachers’ Choir, showing the head of a woman with long flowing hair in left profile. The upper part of the design depicts horizontal parallel lines overlaid with the Slovak coat of arm.

REVERSE: In the upper segment of the reverse are the dates ‘1921’ and ‘2021’ placed either side of a stylised lyre. The rest of the design depicts three staves of notation for the national anthem of the Slovak Republic, with a treble clef at the beginning of the upper and middle staves. The letters shown in most of the white circular noteheads are sequenced to form the name ‘SPEVÁCKY ZBOR SLOVENSKÝCH UČITEĽOV‘.

EDGE: ELEKTRINA – DUCH NÁRODA ŽIJE V PIESNI, V ŇOM SA VZNÁŠA K VÝŠINÁM

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
€10 EURO 0.900 silver 18.0 g 34.0 mm Proof or BU 6,500 / 2,800 YES / YES

200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF JANKO MATUSKA

Janko Matúška (10 January 1821 – 11 January 1877) was a poet belonging to the new generation of Slovak intelligentsia around Ľudovít Štúr (the ‘Štúrovci’). He was born into a landowning family in Orava, a region in the north of what is now Slovakia. During his studies at the Lutheran Lyceum in Pressburg (now Bratislava), he supported the activities of Štur’s group. He wrote poems, but was also attracted by historical topics, ballads, verse legends, and drama. He is famous for writing the lyrics of a song that became the Slovak national anthem in the 20th century.

He wrote them out of indignation at the dismissal of Ľudovít Štúr from a teaching position at the Lyceum. After his studies, he worked as a civil servant in his native Orava. From 1851 to 1870 he worked in government offices, before becoming Clerk of the County Court in Dolný Kubín. Matúška was a local organiser of the 1848/49 Revolution, and in 1849 he had to hide in the mountains, where he fell ill. In later life he was forced to retire because of health problems, suffering from them until his death. His literary works, although modest in number, are among the gems of Slovak romantic literature.

OBVERSE: features a framed image of Orava Castle, symbolising the home region of Janko Matúška. Within that frame, the Slovak coat of arms appears above the castle, and to the right of the frame, inscribed in facsimile, is a four-line extract from the original handwritten lyrics of what became the Slovak national anthem.

REVERSE: shows a framed portrait of Janko Matúška with the poet’s facsimile signature inscribed along the frame’s left edge. The coin’s denomination and currency ‘10 EURO’ is situated below the portrait. Along the upper left edge of the design is the name ‘JANKO MATÚŠKA’, and along the lower left edge, separated from the name by a dot and running in the opposite direction, are the years of Matúška’s birth and death ‘1821 – 1877’.

EDGE: AUTOR TEXTU ŠTÁTNEJ HYMNY SLOVENSKEJ REPUBLIKY

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
€10 EURO 0.900 silver 18.0 g 34.0 mm Proof or BU 6,250 / 2,800 YES / YES
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