Slovakias St James Church commemorates its Gothic altarpiece with new silver coin

One of those rare medieval towns that has managed to preserve much of its character and architecture into modern times, Levoča in eastern Slovakia was rewarded with being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Filled with impressively preserved buildings from the 13th to 15th centuries, Levoca has even held on to its old fortifcations, usually the first thing to be lost, including six bastions and three town gates, some 80% of the original total.

The town is also famous for the work of Master Paul of Levoč, a woodcarver of exceptional ability. His work on Levoca’s 14th century St James‘s Church is considered amongst the finest of its type. The high altar, carved from lime wood between 1507 and 1517, is the tallest late-Gothic winged altarpiece in the world. The predella of the altarpiece includes a scene of the Last Supper in which one of the Apostles is said to be an image of Master Paul himself. There are multiple other examples of his workshops fine efforts within the church and in other locations within the town.

The coin is an ounce of silver in weight and available in two almost identical variants. The most numerous of the pair has a mintage of 6,200 and is finished to a proof quality. A brilliant uncirculated version is rarer at just 3,400 pieces. Designed by Pavel Karoly and engraved by Dalibor Schmidt, the coin was produced by the regarded Kremnica Mint. Depicting a view of St. James Church on one side and a detail look at the high altar on the other, it’s a nice piece that celebrates its subject with great success. Available now, they should sell for around €40.00/$60.00 and it comes in a box with a certificate of authenticity.

2017 LEVOCA HERITAGE SITE PROOF SILVER COIN

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The town of Levoča grew up at an intersection of trade routes below the Levoča Mountains in eastern Slovakia. Along with Spiš Castle and surrounding historical landmarks, the national heritage site in Levoča forms a well-preserved legacy of medieval settlement, the like of which is found nowhere else in the world. For this reason, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Evidence of the town’s wealth in the Middle Ages is provided by its buildings and fortification system dating from 13th to 15th centuries. The main square, originally surrounded by houses of leading townsmen, gradually came to be filled with public buildings. In the 14th century, St James’s Church was built in the middle of the square and the Town Hall was built to the south of the church. The renowned woodcarver Master Paul lived and worked in Levoča and his workshop produced many masterpieces. Among them was the main altarpiece in St James’s Church – the highest late-Gothic winged altarpiece in the world, carved between 1507 and 1517. The town’s fortified medieval core is home to many unique heritage structures, and in 1955 it was declared a national heritage site.

OBVERSE: The obverse depicts the three central figures of the high altarpiece in St James’s Church, Levoča, only here they are shown partly finished, as if emerging from blocks of wood. The wooden block of the right-hand figure bears the coat of arms of the Slovak Republic. The block of the central figure is inscribed, on separate lines, with the year of issuance “2017”, the denomination “20”, and the currency “EURO”. Below them are the mint mark of the Kremnica Mint “MK” and the stylised initials “PK”, the initials of the designer Pavel Károly. The wooden block of the left-hand figure is inscribed with “1517”, the year when the high altarpiece was completed, and, below that, the signature mark of Master Paul. The name of the issuing country “SLOVENSKO” runs along the lower edge of the central field.

REVERSE: The reverse features part of St James’s Church (including the steeple) and the Old Town Hall. The composition is set in front of a Gothic window, below a trefoil at the top of the window and above altar decorations at the bottom of the window. To the left of the composition is the coat of arms of Levoča. Inscribed above the lower edge of the central field, on two lines at left, are the words “PAMIATKOVÁ REZERVÁCIA” (Heritage Site), and, at right, the town name “LEVOČA”.

SPECIFICATION

NAME 2017 LAVOCA HERITAGE SITE
DENOMINATION €20 Euro
COMPOSITION 0.925 ‘sterling’  silver
WEIGHT 33.63 grams
DIAMETER 40.00 mm
FINISH Proof or Brilliant uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS Edge inscription ‘NAJKRAJŠIE HISTORICKÉ MESTÁ’
MINTAGE 6,200 proof / 3,400 b.unc
BOX / COA Yes / Yes


NARODNA BANKA SLOVENSKA