One of the big guns in the bullion coin world since its debut in 1989, the Philharmonic has been very successful for the Austrian Mint. Silver joined the gold range in 2008, and platinum was added to the line-up in 2016. However, despite competitors like the Royal Canadian Mint and the British Royal Mint having expanded their ranges past the core bullion designs into wider selection of smaller mintage offerings, the Austrian Mint has not followed them. Until now.
Launching today is the mints new Duke Leopold V one-ounce silver bullion coin. The first of a trio (the others will feature the city of Wiener Neustadt that was founded by Leopold V, and Robin Hood, a character created from events the Duke put in motion). Duke Leopold V of Austria is most remembered for his capture and ransom of King Richard the Lionheart in December 1192, after their participation in the Third Crusade. Richard was imprisoned in Durnstein Castle, of which you can see the current ruins in our featured image above.
The ransom was a staggering 35,000 kilograms of silver. The money was used to build new city walls for Vienna, to found the towns of Wiener Neustadt and Friedberg in Styria, and most relevant here, to found the Vienna Mint. While highly unlikely, it’s pretty cool to think that some of that very silver might be in the mints new bullion coins. At 825 years old, the Vienna Mint is one of the world’s most aged, although the Royal Mint and the Monnaie de Paris are even older by some three centuries.
The coin is a major departure from the Philharmoniker and an instant favourite here. The image of Duke Leopold, holding his sword and in full Crusader armour, is quite excellent. Just a single date is inscribed on this reverse face, and the whole piece is packed to the rafters with detail everywhere – quite the thing for a bullion coin. The obverse holds all the descriptive text necessary for an official Austrian coin release, but at its centre is a beautiful, almost tapestry-style image of a knight on horseback – we’re going to assume its Leopold V again.
Available in the one-ounce 0.999 silver format only, it has a mintage limit of 100,000 pieces. Given that the equivalent Philharmonic has had a mintage of between 2 million and 18 million ounces per year, it’s comparatively a small number. Available in tubes of 20, or monster boxes of 500 (although single coins should be easy to get hold of), you should be able to pick these up on pre-order from today. An unexpected and highly welcome addition to the market, and from a Tier I mint.