5 Euro Silvercoin “Tyrolean Resistance fighters”

Within its theme of “Austria and its People” the Vienna Mint begins a new sub-series of six silver 10 Euro coins called: Tales and Legends in Austria. The first coin is dedicated to a mediaeval legend from Vienna – the Basilisk. It will be issued on Wednesday, 15th April.

The story goes that in the year 1212 a baker’s boy in a shop in the Schönlaterngasse (Lovely Lantern Lane) No. 7 discovered a horrible monster at the bottom of a well. The stench and poisonous fumes of the creature killed all those who inhaled them. The monster was identified as a basilisk, a mutant creature part snake, part toad, part cockerel. To look into its eyes was instant death. A counsellor learned in such matters was fetched to help and to advise. He said that the only way to destroy the monster was to confront it with its own horrid appearance. Someone must go down into the well with a mirror.

No matter what reward was offered as an inducement, there was no one prepared to confront the deadly monster, until the baker’s apprentice raised his voice. He had long been in love with the baker’s beautiful daughter, but that was an alliance that the baker would never accept under normal circumstances. The young man seized his opportunity. He would descend into the well if the baker would consent to give him the daughter’s hand in marriage as his reward. The desperate baker agreed. The apprentice was lowered into the well with a large mirror. As the fearsome basilisk turned to him, it caught sight of itself in the mirror held before the apprentice like a shield. In a fit of rage and revulsion at its own image, the basilisk burst. The apprentice climbed from the well to claim his bride, while the spectators began to fill the well with earth and stones to bury the remains of the monster and its deadly fumes.

The tale has been retold (with minor variations) ever since. Indeed, the Baroque house that stands on the site of the old baker’s shop today has the legend and a fresco depicting the brave apprentice and his mirror on its façade. A stone purporting to be a petrified basilisk hatched from an egg found in the well, also adorns its façade.

The new coin shows the legendary monster as it turns and sees its reflection in the mirror held by the baker’s apprentice, who peeps timidly over the frame. At the top of the well two more frightened faces peer (almost comically) over the stone edge at the scene below. On the other side we see a view of the Schönlaterngasse (Lovely Lantern Lane) in Vienna. At the end is the gateway into Holy Cross Court, belonging to the great Cistercian Holy Cross Abbey in Lower Austria. On the right is the Basilisk House No. 7 as it appears today.

This 10 Euro silver coin is struck in sterling silver (.925 fine) in three qualities: proof (max. 40,000 pieces), special uncirculated (max. 30,000 pieces) and circulation quality (130,000 pieces). The proof version comes in an attractive box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. For the first time a special collection album for all six proof coins is being produced and can be purchased separately. The special uncirculated coin is sold in a colourful and informative blister pack. The circulation pieces are issued at face value through the Austrian banks.

The new series “Tales and Legends in Austria” will continue in October with a coin for the imprisonment of King Richard the Lionheart in the castle of Dürnstein on the Danube and the search for him by his loyal minstrel Blondel.

K.R. J. Tattersall
Marketing Director
Austrian Mint.

“The Basilisk”

Date of issue:        15th April, 2009

Design:            Thomas Pesendorfer

Face value:        € 10.-

Diameter:        32 mm

Fine weight:        16 g Ag

Fineness:        .925 sterling silver

Mintage:        max. 40,000 proof
max. 30,000 special uncirculated
130,000 circulation pieces