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The Vienna Philharmonic silver coin is the only silver bullion coin with a face value in the European Union’s currency, the euro. Since its first mintage in 2008, the Münze Österreich (Austrian Mint)’s design wowed the precious metal community and earned top awards from numismatic organizations, but also captured the title, “Europe’s #1 silver bullion coin.”
Which is strange, considering how different the Philharmonic’s design is compared to most gold and silver coins. Most nations choose patriotic or nationalist symbols for their coinage (whether for circulation, or for collectors). Kings and queens, presidents and national heroes… Austria, though? Over the last century or so, they just don’t have a whole lot of leaders to be proud of. Instead, the Austrian Mint chose a completely apolitical symbol of national pride and achievement: the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Yes, just like the Philharmonic coin, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra really is one of the best in the world.
The silver Philharmonic’s design hasn’t changed since its first mintage in 2008. The obverse features what might, at first, look like a building. It’s actually part of the Großer Musikvereinssaal (Golden Hall): an astonishingly ornate display case built in 1870 to house a building-sized pipe organ. Over the last 150 years, the organ has only been updated four times. You’ll see the words Republik Osterreich and 1 unze feinsilber on the obverse as well. These translate to "Republic of Austria" and "1 ounce fine silver" from German, Austria’s official language. The 2023 year of issue and face value of €1.50 are on the obverse as well.
The reverse continues the orchestral theme with a representative sampling of the instruments played on any given night in the Golden Hall. A single cello, flanked right and left by two violins dominate the foreground. Behind the string section, we see (left to right) a French horn, part of a bassoon and a harp. These represent respectively the brass, woodwind and percussion sections of the orchestra – yes, the harp is considered percussion rather than strings – so all four sections are accounted for. Across the top edge of the coin, the phrase Weiner Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) appears in classic Gothic lettering. Underneath, the word Silber appears to differentiate between the silver and platinum coins – though a knowing eye can easily tell the difference. Silver’s so much more reflective than platinum!
Look: Europe has had a rough century or so. Two global wars, the rise and fall of the Iron Curtain, economic collapses by the handful – in fact, Austria suffered nearly a decade of hyperinflation after World War I. These people don’t forget stuff like that, which helps explain why silver bullion coins like the Philharmonic are popular in Europe. The back gardens and closets of Europe are well-stocked with inflation-resistant, sound-money coins like this one, because you never know when you’ll need them…
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