2013-2024 TREASURES OF STANISLAW AUGUST by Narodowy Bank

Issued by the National Bank Of Poland (NBP), also known as the Narodowy Bank, Treasures of Stanislaw August is a rare gem along the lines of the Monnaie de Paris’ superlative From Clovis to Republic series. Whereas that series took a modern designer, Christian Lacroix, and reinterpreted the styles of history for a modern, themed look, this series is firmly rooted in a historical source. The last king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was Stanislaw August Poniatowski, and around 1790 he instructed a pair of talented medallists, Jan Filip Holzhaeusser and Jan Jakub Reichel, to strike a series of medals based on a set of portraits by Marcello Bacciarelli painted some twenty years earlier. The result was issued by the Warsaw mint between 1791 and 1798.

The NBP are releasing this series of twenty four coin replicas, accurate even down to the diameter and depth of relief. Originally planned to be released at a rate of four per year for six years, the first three years from 2013 to 2015 saw three coins per year, and recent changes to the 2016 release schedule may indicate that further contracting to just two. When the series will finish is now open to speculation.

Each coin is a chunky 2oz in weight, a nice size for a commemorative we think, but that also applies to the gold version, and 2oz of gold doesn’t come cheap. Most of you will be looking at the silver version and a recent mintage increase from 5,000 to 5,250 indicates things are healthy there, and with good reason. These are beautiful coins, expertly struck by the Mint of Poland (Mennica Polska) and quite superbly realised. Considering these are very close replicas of medals over 200 years old, it’s obvious the two medallists responsible for those genuinely were talented. The reverse design includes one of the kings of Poland that ruled from 992 up until Stanislaw himself in 1795, although there is a big gap between 1025 and 1300 as apparently, medieval kings from the Piast Dynasty weren’t particularly well thought of in the late 18th century. The designs are of the highest order. The obverse sides carry an inscription with some notes on the life of the particular monarch.

Each coin comes nicely boxed, it’s good seeing the silver presented to the same standard as the gold, and the whole completed set will be quite an impressive sight we believe. Some effort expended on a quality coin collection case would certainly be worthwhile for people having spent so much on the set. As we said, the release schedule moving forward isn’t known, and the set could take longer to get together than originally envisaged, but fans of history will certainly be advised to check this little known series out.

SERIES OVERVIEW

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The unique series of gold and silver collector coins with the face values of 500 zloty and 50 zloty – “TREASURES OF STANISŁAW AUGUST” – replicates the famous 18th century medallic series with the images of the kings of Poland, which was struck on the order of Stanisław August Poniatowski.

The royal medals, designed by two outstanding medallists: Jan Filip Holzhaeusser and Jan Jakub Reichel, were struck at the Warsaw mint in the years 1791-1797/1798. The design of the medals was based on portraits painted between 1768 and 1771 by Marcello Bacciarelli for the Marble Room at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The coins issued by the National Bank of Poland are faithful replicas of the medals, preserving the diameter and height of relief of the originals. This applies to the portraits of the kings on the reverses. The obverses of the coins feature the reverses of the medals with biographies of the monarchs. The reverses of the medals have been reduced in size because they are accompanied by the name of the state along the rim, the image of the state emblem, the face value and the year of issue of the coins. The biographies of the monarchs and the inscriptions on the obverses of the medals accompanying the royal portraits are in Latin. The final text editing was most likely done by King Stanisław August himself. The names of the monarchs in Polish are presented on the sides of the coins, along with the name of the series “Treasures of Stanisław August”.

The gallery of portraits of Polish kings, painted on the order of Stanisław August Poniatowski, consisted of images of 23 monarchs. It included one royal portrait more than Bacciarelli’s series of 22 paintings. The additional portrait of Stanisław Leszczyński – featured on the medal – was most probably modelled on a painting by Jan Bogumił Plersch. Both series, the paintings and the medals, begin with the image of Bolesław Chrobry and end with the portrait of August III. Since the 18th century, the principal place in the Marble Room has belonged to the portrait of the full-length figure of Stanisław August in his coronation robes. The painting is several times larger than other portraits. It is therefore probable that the medallic series would have finished with a medal presenting the image of the ruling monarch. However, these plans were thwarted by the king’s abdication, emigration and early death at the beginning of 1798.

The series of coins “Treasures of Stanisław August” consists of 24 portraits of monarchs – of which 23 have been modelled on the royal series plus a portrait of Stanisław August based on the medals from the period. The series will be struck in silver and gold, as was the practice in the 18th century. Starting from 2013, the National Bank of Poland will issue the coins from the series four times a year.

Tomasz Bylicki
Senior curator Historical Museum of Warsaw

SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
50 ZLOTY 0.999 SILVER 62.2 g 45.00 mm STANDARD 600-750 YES / YES
500 ZLOTY 0.9999 GOLD 62.2g 45.00 mm STANDARD 5000-5250 YES / YES