Steamboats are not a subject that appears with great regularity in the numismatic world, but we’ve recently had a new series debut at the Swiss Mint and now the National Bank of Slovakia is adding a new coin. The coin commemorates 200 years since the steamboat Carolina first made its way along the Danube river. Built to the plans of Hungarian inventor Antal Bernhard, the ship was employed as a ferry service between the cities of Buda and Pest, then distinctly seperate cities.
Sadly, the service was not a success and just a few months later it was suspended. Powered by a 24 HP steam engine, she was never going to break speed records, but even then you’d have thought the novelty factor at the time would have been enough. It was not to be and the last reported location of the Carolina was as a wreck on the Danube’s southern shore.
The coin comes in at 18 grams in weight and is struck in 90% (0.900) fineness silver. It has a clean-struck finish, devoid of modification like colour or gilding – a classic coin style. The artwork is quite unusual, certainly not going to far down the realism route, but the style seems to work well and offers a good look at the vessel on the reverse face – one going some way to explaining why nobody wanted to get on it… The obverse features a look at the mechanism that powered this early steamboat and is a fascinating glimpse of the early technology employed to power ships in this period. All of that equipment generated just 24 HP!
Struck by the Kremnica Mint, their mintmark is placed on this face. All in all a quirky design, but a good one by designer Zbyněk Fojtů. Available now, these are not the easiest coins in the world to track down, but prices seem very keen where we’ve seen them. There are two versions distinguished by finish, but both versions sell for well under €30. The brilliant uncirculated version has a mintage of 5,650 and the proof is capped at 2,750 pieces.