Austrian Mint releases penultimate issues in its gold wildlife and silver Maria Theresa coin series

Two of the Austrian Mints ongoing precious metal coin series are coming to an end this year and the mint has recently debuted the penultimate issues in both of them. This mint has a track record of releasing some very high quality and gimmick-free series of coins focusing on Austrian history and nature and these are no exception.

First up is the third of four sterling silver coins celebrating 300 years since the birth of Empress Maria Theresa. Inspired by the Maria Theresa Thaler, a coin first struck in 1741 and used until 1858, this series takes the perceived qualities of this eighteenth century ruler and spreads them over the four issues. Latest to get the treatment is Clemency and Faith. As on previous coins, the obverse carries an effigy of the Empress and again, it’s a different one to previous coins. A well defined piece of work, it has echoes of the NBP’s superb Treasures of Stanislaw August series.

Like the obverse, the reverse face benefits from a high-relief strike and depicts a personification of Clemency reaching out to raise up a fallen soldier, while a lion lays alongside. The figures look great and the overall image is excellent, but the lion head is a little ‘puppet-like’ for our taste. The date in Roman numerals is a nice touch. Available to order now for €59.40, this is definitely one for the lover of classic-style numismatics to enjoy. You can read about the better quality packaging options in our last article HERE. The final piece, Prudence and Reform, launches on the 3rd October.

The other series with just a single coin to follow is one of the mints rare gold ones. Already an award-winning range, Wildlife in our Sights will comprise of six coins when completed and each depicts an animal native to Austria. Releasing just a single coin every year starting in 2013, we’ll have to wait until 2019 to see the finished collection. In the meantime, the 2018 issue depicts an absolutely fascinating and iconic animal – the Alpine Ibex.

No changes to the way these are laid out. The reverse face shows an inscription-free image of the animal in its natural habitat, along with a juvenile and a chilled-out looking marmot. This easily maintains the high standard set by previous entrants in the series. The obverse carries the required inscriptions, a flowing pattern along the bottom and a portrait of an adult Alpine Ibex in close-up. This has always been a gorgeous series and the Ibex coin is no exception. There are also higher-end packaging options available for the series outside of the usual little red box these come in and you can also read more about it in our coverage of the last coin. After a rise from €645.00 to €739.00 last year, the price has dropped slightly to $719.00. Excellent coin.

MINTS DESCRIPTION: A species of wild goat with impressive horns that can grow up to a metre in length, the Alpine ibex can be spotted on vertiginous rocky outcrops above the tree line in the Alps. It can also be spotted on the fifth coin in our Wildlife in our Sights series, which celebrates the diversity of Europe’s native wildlife and the sustainable management of the natural habitats in which it continues to thrive.

Life above the tree line

Almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because its blood and horns were thought to possess mythical healing powers, today the Alpine ibex numbers some 45,000. After a gestation period of five to six months, the Alpine ibex’s young are born in May or June. Immature males and females live together in a herd but the young bucks form a separate herd as they approach maturity. In the rutting season, adult bucks seek out females and try to win control over the herd by putting on a show of strength. They do this by confronting rival bucks on hind legs and bringing their horns crashing down on those of their opponents. In spring, the bucks become solitary again and spend more and more time alone as they get older.

The obverse of the coin shows an ibex in profile surrounded by alpine primroses and edelweiss. Like the other coins in the series, the lower part of obverse is exquisitely decorated with a handsome design that gives the series its distinctive character. The coin’s reverse shows an ibex with its young on a steep rock face, as a marmot looks on.

MINTS DESCRIPTION: The third coin in our Empress Maria Theresa series features the only ever female ruler of the Habsburg Empire wearing a widow’s veil. Empress Maria Theresa donned the veil following the sudden death of her beloved husband, Francis I, in 1765. Like the other coins in the series, Clemency and Faith has been inspired by medals issued during the Empress’ reign and minted in extra-bold relief, which gives it a special antique look and feel worthy of its illustrious subject.

Mournful monarch

Devastated by the death of Francis, Maria Theresa dressed in mourning for the rest of her life and even had the room in which he died, in the Hofburg in Innsbruck, converted into a chapel. The portrait of Maria Theresa wearing a veil on the coin’s obverse is from a relief by Anton Guillemard (1747-1812), while the coin’s reverse shows an allegorical representation of Clemency in which a female figure offers her hand to a fallen soldier. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Empress Maria Theresa in 1717, the four-coin Empress Maria Theresa series is based on the four cardinal virtues, which drove the Empress. Featuring an amalgam of original motifs taken from medals issued during Maria Theresa’s 40-year reign (1740-1780), the coins combine Courage, Justice, Clemency and Prudence with four different portraits of the Empress: as a young woman; as a wife; as a widow; and with her successor, Joseph II.

DENOMINATION €100 Euro €20 Euro
COMPOSITION 0.986 gold 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 16.23 grams 22.42 grams
DIAMETER 30.00 mm 34.00 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None Extra bold relief
MINTAGE 30,000 30,000
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes