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Friday, 14 November 2014

Did you know series (23): (i): The“25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series": 2003 onwards minted by the Austrian Mint :First Coin featuring: “700 Jahre Stadt Hall” (700 years of Hall Town/City in Tyrol):

Did you know series (23): (i): The “25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series": 2003 onwards minted by the Austrian Mint by using Niobium and Niobium metal insertion technology for the first time anywhere in the World of Numismatics:
First Coin featuring: “700 Jahre Stadt Hall” (700 years of  Hall Town/City in Tyrol):

In 2000, the Austrian Mint started a Coin Collector’s Series called the “25 Euro Millennium Coin” Series which initially consisted of bimetallic coins, having a metallic composition of Silver/Tin. The first coin in the Series issued in 2000 had a theme of “telecommunications” and the second one in the Series issued in 2001 had “mobility” as its theme.

Encouraged by the enthusiastic response of the Collectors in 2002, the Austrian Mint proposed to continue the Series. In 2003, they planned to issue a Collector’s coin to commemorate the “700th Anniversary of City Hall, Tyrol” (the town of Hall in Tyrol) – but with a difference – from the third coin onwards till end of the series, for all coins to be issued in this Series, the Austrian Mint wanted that there should be a new and unique metal composition for this coin. The Mint also proposed to issue about 50,000 pieces per edition.

As such, the Austrian Mint collaborated with Plansee Aktiengesellschaft on a project for identification of a new metal from out of the production range of the Plansee group, to be used in the minting of the coin commemorating the “700th Anniversary of the City Hall, Tyrol”.

 As Tyrol was a production site for manufacturing the  metal Niobium which had a high technological application in the aerospace industry, Niobium was chosen after studying the pros and cons of its qualities. Niobium is a relatively young metal, discovered in 1801.

The designers of the 2003 “700th Anniversary of the City Hall, Tyrol” coin have applied this Niobium metal insertion technology for the first time anywhere in the world of Numismatics.

 A particular challenge overcome by the designers was the requirement to provide an optical appearance on the coin blanks, which necessitated the development of special surface treatment techniques.

In addition, the colouring of the Niobium insert was an important feature which required the development of advanced quality tools necessary, so as to keep the quality level uniform over the whole production in the entire Series.

With the issue of the 25 Euro bi-metallic Silver-Niobium coin, it was the first time for the Austrian mint that the idea of conceiving, implementing and quality deciding production steps that a collaborative external partner – Plansee Aktiengesellschaft was relied upon.

On its part, Plansee Aktiengesellschaft measured up to meeting the rigorous demands for mint processing, production and the implementation of advanced quality assurance methods, as well as marketing of the commemorative coins. Over two years of extensive research was required to successfully adapt the special properties and working behaviour of Niobium to the coin minting process.

A new application field for Niobium – its use in the minting industry was developed together with a technique for colouring of Niobium with specified shades of colour which was a huge challenge which was overcome.

The overwhelming success of the 25 Euro bi-metallic Silver – Niobium coin Series complimented the decision of the Austrian Mint to invest in this innovative product line despite the high realisation risk.

Why Niobium:

Niobium belongs to the group of refractory metals which comprises Zirconium, Hafnium, Niobium, Tantalum, Chromium, Molybdenum, Tungsten, Technetium and Rhenium which are termed as “high melting” metals/elements, given their high melting points.

Their specific properties make the refractory metals suitable for many high performance applications in high technology, like, the steel industry and in aerospace industry. It is also used as a component for production of superconducting cables and magnets for large test units in high energy physics research institutes, for research on plasma fusion technology and in analytical devices for medicine technology.

Niobium and Niobium alloys are also used in more common applications and are sometimes very essential – for example, in chemical engineering for heating and shielding elements, for process technology for better materials and for lighting technology as components for sodium vapour lamps.

Thus, Niobium is a corrosion resistant, light grey metal with good room temperature ductibility.

Niobium was found to be most suited for inclusion in this Series of Commemorative coins.

The main deposits which are industrially mined are located in Brasilia, Canada and Africa.

Some factors which were given special focus by the Austrian Mint & Plansee Aktiengesellschaft were:

-      Clear impressions of the Niobium inserts on the coin blanks so as not to produce distorted images.

-      Incorporating some additional features like colouring of the metal by special surface treatments (decorative colouring like for eg. painting, printing or enamelling were not considered appropriate). A unique feature of this process is the fact that the colouring layer is not deposited on the surface, but it is formed by commutation of Niobium in the surface area of the material. After the colouring, the Niobium insert is assembled together with the silver ring and stroked in place.

-      To lay stress on the “strike quality” of the coin, is chiefly influenced by the surface structure of the blank, beside the purity of the metal and the homogeneity of the microstructure, which influences the workability of the material.

-      The constant quality of the coins over the whole production process to be monitored by repeatedly carrying out visual inspections and comparisons with the reference samples.

-      Keeping costs of production low so as not to impact the buyer/collector-end prices.

Following in the footsteps of the Austrian Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, has for the first time brought out a Sterling silver and Niobium coin Series titled “Full Moon Sterling and Niobium Coin Series” for the first time in 2014, when the pioneering technology of the Austrian Mint is now over a decade old. They are subtly marketing these Coins under a sub-title “A Royal Canadian Mint First” with no  mention of the pioneering Austrian Mint and Plansee Aktiengesellschaft’s successful collaborative project to develop the “Niobium insert” technology.

Amusingly, the Royal Canadian Mint website on its “Full Moon Sterling silver and Niobium coin” page has mentioned “Niobium metal Inset” instead of “Niobium metal Insert”, as (Niobium) “Insert” is a new technology, whereas “Inset” is a commonly used term in Numismatics.

The 2003 “25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin”:

The silver-Niobium bimetallic coin “700 Jahre Stadt Hall” (700 years of Hall Town in Tyrol) was conceived and minted in 2003, beautifully combining the theme of the “past and the future” in an impressive way. This theme has been carried forward in all the coins issued under this series by the Austrian mint.
 The Obverse of the coin depicted an earth observation satellite which is scanning the symbolic City map of Hall/Tyrol. Also mentioned on the left Periphery is "Hall in Tirol 2003" and on the right periphery "Republik Osterreich".
This face depicts the present/future under the theme of this coin series.
 The Reverse of the coin shows a representation of the “guldiner”, a historical coin which highlights the Hall/Tyrol as a historical mint. The engraving is in the shape of a reflection of a medieval “guldiner” or Tyrolean “guldengroschen” and gives the impression of a coining die, in other words, the image presents a  mirror image of an actual coin.  also mentioned on this face on the upper periphery is "700 Jahre" (meaning 700 years) and on the lower periphery "Stadt Hall in Tirol" (meaning Hall City in Tirol). The coining die also bears a mirror image of the date 1486.
This Face depicts a connection to the past under the theme of this coin series.

 As a special feature for enhancing the visual effect, a unique material property of the element Niobium, which has the ability to colour the surface of the coin blanks, by anodic oxidation, was used for the first time for minting these coins and for these coins, the Niobium based core surface was given a blue colour.

This was the first coin to be issued under this innovative Series commemorates the 700th Anniversary of Hall Town in Tyrol or Tirol. In 1486, in Hall, one of the first coins to be minted was the “Guldiner”, which was considered to be a milestone in the history of coins.

The specifications of the coin are:

Face value: 25 Euros; Metallic composition: Outer ring: Silver (Ag) 900 – 9 gms, Niobium 998 – 6.50 gms; Diameter: 34 mm; Weight: 16.50 gms; Edge: smooth.

Hall town in Tyrol:

The first mention of a settlement in this area comes from a 1256 document. The name is derives from the German word “hal” meaning a “salt mine or source of salt”, as a salt mine was the principal source of the town’s prosperity around that time.

In 1303, Duke Otto of Carinthia/Tyrol granted Hall the same municipal rights as Innsbruck. The town grew to be the most important trading town in the north of Tyrol in the following centuries.

By 1316, the settlement is mentioned as “Hall im Inntal”.

In 1342, the hospital area was established in the Town centre. Centuries later, in 1914, Hall’s “spital” was re-established as the District hospital.

Subsequently, the Old Town area grew and Hall became by far the biggest town in Northern Tyrol.

By 1356, Hall was granted the right to hold two annual fairs which evolved into major international events. Initially, these markets were held in the “Salvatorgasse”, but after 1406, the markets were held on the meadow (Anger), north of Tyrol town.

In 1406, the ruling prince donated the “Konigshaus” or the “Royal House” to the town which is used as the Town Hall.

In 1447, a huge fire destroyed much of the city which was reconstructed and over 300 buildings were constructed during the reconstruction phase.

In 1452, the town was granted the “Lendordnung” which gave the residents the sole rights to trade imported and exported goods transported on the River Inn. However, the river trade ended some time later when a timber rake was extended across the river to catch driftwood for burning in the nearby salt works. The river stayed blocked till around 1857.

In 1670, there was a violent earthquake which destroyed the major portion of the town which had to be reconstructed once again, only to be devastated by fire in 1740 once again.

In 1858, the Railway had come to Hall. The new means of transport led to a decline in whatever river trade was left and the town fairs also suffered substantially.

By 1930, in addition to the Salt mines, the town was now dependent on spas or the “Solbad” for their economic prosperity which still reeled under the effects of the global economic crisis of the 1920s.

The name of the Town/settlement was changed to “Hall in Tirol” by the 19th century.

Subsequently, between 1938 and 1974, the town’s name was changed to “Solbad Hall” (as a reminder of the town’s one-time popularity as a spa town).

In 1967, the salt mines closed down bringing down curtains on the longest chapter in Hall’s history as a salt-mining town.

In 1972, the new Inntal autobahn was completed. The town got a new bridge over the Inn and direct access to the new Highway which became the most important traffic artery for the north-south traffic through the Alps.

In 1973, the Old Town was renovated and 300 houses were renovated which won the first Austrian State Prize for Conservation (in 1984) and the Council of Europe Flag of Honour (in 1986). The fine buildings in hall’s Old Town remind one of the settlement’s prosperous past.

In 2004, Hall became a University town. Situated on the western outskirts, the UMIT is housed in the Eduard Wallnofer Centre for Medical innovation.

The Mint:

In 1477, the Provincial Mint of Merano (in modern day Italy), in what is now South Tyrol, moved north to Hall. Initially it was located in Ansitz Sparberegg, but, from 1567 the Mint was shifted to Burg Hasegg (Hasegg Castle) in Hall which was initially intended to serve as a second coining mint. However, due to economic and political considerations, the first mint at Ansitz Sparberegg closed down and the mint in Hall became the only mint for making Tyrolean coins.

Like most medieval mints, the coins struck at Hall Mint were initially hammer struck.

In 1486, Hall Mint embossed the “Taler” which was also called the “Guldiner”. The word “dollar” i.e. the US currency and that of several countries world-wide have derived from the German word “Taler”.

From 1550 onwards, there were several attempts to install mechanical alternatives for the coining process.  Finally, machines were installed in 1564, but they were not very successful.

Many of the coins bore the mint marks – “F” (1765-1809), “H”, (1760-1780), “HA” (1746-1765) or an eagle (1975-1976). The Mint was mainly responsible for minting the area’s own coinage, but also issued “poltura’ coins for Hungary.

In 1809, the Mint was closed down due to Napoleonic Wars and the increasing lack of silver resources. All of Hall’s minting machines were moved to Rosenheim in the same year.

After Tyrol returned to Austria, there were attempts to reactivate the mint, but these did not work out. The Hall Mint and Mint Tower is now a museum where exhibits illustrate the technology to emboss coins as well as the history of the town. The Mint Museum also has the Austrian Museum Quality Seal. The Museum documents the history of the minting machines, Hall in Tirol Mint and the Mint Tower. The prized exhibit is the reconstruction of a roller minting machine from the 16th century.

In 1975 – 1976, Hall Mint in collaboration with the Mint Museum struck coins or medals for special occasions for example – the Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck and the 500th year Anniversary of the Hall “dollar”.  For the 500th year of anniversary of the Hall, 500 schilling souvenir coins were minted in silver. These coins were struck after nearly 170 years of inactivity.

The Tyrolean mint was one of the most important mints in Austria and several other commemorative coins have been struck with the Mint as the Central theme – a 100 schilling coin in 1977 which marked the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Mint in Hall, another coin issued in 1986, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the first “thaler” minted at Hall and, of course, the first coin issued under Austria’s bimetallic niobium 25 Euro coin Series in 2003, which commemorated the 700th anniversary of the city of Hall in Tyrol.

The following coins have been issued in this Series:

2003 – 700 years old city hall in Tyrol or Tirol.

2004 – 150 years Semmering Alpine Railway

2005 – 50 years of Television

2006 – The European Satellite Navigation

2007 – Austrian Aviators

2008 – Fascinating light

2009 – Year of Astronomy

2010 – Renewable Energy Sources.

2011 – Robotics

2012 – Bionics

2013 – Drilling tunnels


  1. Choudhary Roy S has commented:
    " This is such an interesting topic...Much u go into deep...more it becomes amazing/interesting...Thanks fr the research...U r doing...!

    1. Thank you so much for your extremely encouraging comment/observation. There are nine more very interesting coins in this Series which I am researching on and every time I leave my laptop for going out etc, the first instinct is to get back quickly & carry on with the research.

  2. Specifications for 25 euro 2003 (town hall in Tyrol)
    Date of Issue 29. January 2003
    Quality Special Uncirculated
    Series Silver niobium
    Face Value 25 Euro
    Coin Design Mag. Helmut Andexlinger, Herbert Wähner
    Diameter 34,00 mm
    Alloy Silver niobium
    Ring Silber Ag 900
    Core Niob Nb 99,8
    Fine Weight 9,00 g
    Total Weight 17,15 g