The name Max Hell conjures up a warrior who vanquishes evil across multiple dimensions, but in reality, the eighteenth century Jesuit priest, astronomer and mathematician, Rudolf Maximilian Hell, had an altogether more academic life. Born in what was then the Kingdom of Hungary, but is now modern day Slovakia, Hell was the third of 22 children (That explains the surname…)

He became the Director of the Vienna Observatory in 1756, going on to produce a healthy body of work. His paper Ephemerides astronomicae ad meridianum Vindobonemsem (“Ephemerides for the Meridian of Vienna”) which set out to document the transit of Venus was controversial, and he was plagued by accusations of falsifying data, but was exonerated a century later. He died in 1792 and has since had a crater on the moon named after him – literally, Hell.

The reverse face of the coin depicts the man himself in portrait form, with a symbolic astronomical background and the dates of his birth and death inscribed on it. It looks to be a fine realisation of the man, dressed for his defining journey to the Arctic Circle, although obviously, no photographs of him exist, so how accurate it is will be open to debate. The obverse again goes with the astronomical theme, featuring a period telescope against a star filled background.

This is a 0.900 silver coin a little over ½-ounce in weight and is available in two versions. The proof variant makes up the bulk of the mintage, with 6,500 pieces, and there are 2,800 being struck to the lower brilliant uncirculated standard. The coins look to come with a booklet detailing some of the mans history and are pretty cheap compared to many other mints. The BU version sells for around €22-24, with the proof coin around €5 more. The Bank of Slovakia puts out some nice, classic coins, and is well worth keeping an eye on. Available now.


Maximilian Hell (1720–1792) was a Jesuit Catholic priest, astronomer, and mathematician. Through his scientific and pedagogical activities and publications, he became a pioneer of modern astronomy in the Habsburg Monarchy. His scientific career began in 1745 when he was invited to assist Joseph Franz at the Jesuit observatory in Vienna and started teaching astronomy at Vienna University. In 1755 he was appointed Director of the Imperial Observatory of Vienna and held the post until his death in 1792.

Besides his work at the Observatory and University, he also published many works and helped establish observatories in Trnava, Kluž, Budín, and Eger. Hell gained an international reputation with the publication of his astronomical tables Ephemerides astronomicae ad meridianum Vindobonemsem (“Ephemerides for the Meridian of Vienna”), which he edited from 1757 and which continued to be published until 1807. Hell was a member of several learned societies, including the British Royal Society, of which he was made a Fellow in 1790.

OBVERSE: depicts Father Hell as a standing astronomer observing a starry night sky through a period telescope. At the left edge is the Slovak coat of arms, and in the lower centre, between the figure and the telescope, are the coin’s denomination‘10’ and currency ‘EURO’, one above the other. The name of the issuing country ‘SLOVENSKO’ appears along the upper edge of the design,followed by the year of issuance ‘2020’. At the lower right are the stylised letters ‘KL’, referring to the designer Karol Ličko, and the mint mark of the Kremnica Mint (Mincovňa Kremnica), consisting of the letters ‘MK’ placed between two dies.

REVERSE: depicts, on the right side, Father Hell eurove-mince/zberatelske dressed for his journey to the Arctic Circle, where he observed the transit of Venus across the Sun. The transit is shown on the left side above a cluster of shining stars. In the midst of the stars are dates of Father Hell’s birth ‘1720’ and death ‘1792’, one above the other. The name ‘MAXIMILIÁN HELL’ appears along the left edge of the design.

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COMPOSITION 0.900 silver
WEIGHT 18.0 grams
FINISH Proof or Brilliant uncirculated
MINTAGE 6,500 (+2,800 BU quality)
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
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