The Austrian Mint is located in an historic 1835 building in the Heumarkt area of Landstrasse district in the old city center in Vienna. A subsidiary of the Austrian Central Bank, the Austrian Mint strikes all coinage for the Republic of Austria, as well as for a long list of foreign clients. Annual production is approximately 450 million coins.
The Austrian Mint was literally founded upon a king’s ransom.
King Richard I of England managed to make bitter enemies of many of Europe’s rulers, including the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, and Duke Leopold V of Austria. Richard had ordered Leopold’s banner cast down from the city walls of Acre, after the city’s capture from the Muslims in the Third Crusade. This grave insult led Leopold to immediately return home with his army. Richard was later implicated in the murder of Leopold’s cousin Conrad, who had been elected King of Jerusalem.
One can imagine Leopold’s joy when his mortal enemy was captured on Austrian soil in December 1192, attempting to sneak back to England in disguise at the conclusion of the Crusade. Commanded by Emperor Henry VI to hand Richard over, Leopold only did so upon a promise of half the 100,000 silver marks ransom demanded from England for Richard’s release. (Henry later increased the ransom demand to 150,000 marks, but only gave Leopold 50,000 marks when it was paid.)
Leopold’s share of the ransom totaled nearly 12 metric tons of silver. Being suddenly extremely wealthy, he proceeded to mint his own currency in Vienna, marking the founding of the Vienna (now Austrian) Mint. The Vienna Mint served the rulers of Austria for over 700 years, until the proclamation of the first Austrian Republic after World War I. In 1715, its name was changed to the Principal Mint. In 1733, an engraving academy was formed in Vienna for production of coin and medal dies. 1735 saw the Mint move to Prince Eugene’s winter palace in Himmelpfortgasse. In 1850, it became the leading mint of the Hapsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empire. In 1918, all other government mints in Austria were closed with the proclamation of the first Austrian Republic.
In 1989, the Principal Mint in Vienna was restructured as a private company and renamed the Austrian Mint, wholly owned by the Austrian Central Bank. That same year saw the introduction of the Gold Philharmonic bullion coin, followed in 2008 by the Silver Philharmonic.
Popular Investment Products
The introduction of 1 oz pure gold bullion coins by Canada, the U.S., and Australia in the 1980s prompted Austria to produce their own version, honoring the legendary Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Described by the Austrian Mint as Europe’s most successful gold investment coin, the Vienna Philharmonic first came to market in 1989 with the denomination of 2,000 Schilling for the 1 troy ounce version, and 500 Schilling for the 1/4 ounce version. A 1/10 oz Gold Philharmonic was added to the lineup in 1991, followed by a 1/2 oz coin in 1994, and finally, a 1/25 oz version in 2014 to celebrate the coin’s 25th anniversary. The 2001 Austrian Gold Philharmonic was the world’s first gold bullion coin to be denominated in euros. If all the Gold Philharmonics ever sold were stacked together, it would reach over 15,000 meters (49,200 ft)!
The 1 troy oz Silver Philharmonic was the first European silver bullion coin to be minted in “four nines” .9999 fine silver. Within a month of its introduction in 2008, over one million Silver Vienna Philharmonic coins had been struck.
As the primary mint of one the Great Powers of 18th- and 19th-century Europe, the coins produced by the Austrian Mint were accepted worldwide for their precious metal content. Modern restrikes of these famous Imperial coins are still popular among gold and silver investors.
Maria Theresa Silver Thaler
Empress Maria Theresa of Austria was the first female to rule the Empire, and the last of the Hapsburg line, ascending to the throne in 1740. Part of the much-needed economic reforms she implemented was stringent standards of purity in Austrian coinage. The Maria Theresa thaler (or taler) was first minted in 1741, and became one of the most widespread silver coins in history. It was so important in international trade that the design continued to be struck by the millions for many decades, with its date frozen at 1780 -- the year of the Empress’s death.
Continuously minted since 1857 to the present day, some estimates put mintage totals as high as 400 million coins. The Maria Theresa thaler was the preferred silver trade currency for over 200 years throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia into China.
Gold 100 Corona
The gold 100 Corona (Crown) coin of Austria was the crowning numismatic exemplification of the glory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Featuring the likeness of Emperor Franz Joseph, modern restrikes of this coin bear the date 1915, the last year it was minted as circulating currency. The Austrian 100 Corona gold coin is popular among modern gold investors for its classic, detailed design, and the fact that it contains nearly 1 troy oz (.98 ozt) of gold content. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it’s still being struck by the Austrian Mint.
Gold 1 and 4 Ducat
The Austrian gold 1 and 4 Ducat coins were the golden trade coins of the Empire in the last half of the 19th century. Also bearing the portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph, these smaller coins lost their legal tender status to the Corona in various denominations. Like the Coronas, the gold ducats are still restruck annually with their date frozen at 1915, the last year circulating gold coins were struck in Austria.