White Gold of Hallstatt coins from Austria


09 February 2024
Austrian Mint is launching a three-part White Gold of Hallstatt silver €20 series in February, with the first coin focussing on the history of the town of Bad Ischl.

In 2024, the Austrian town of Bad Ischl, located near Salzburg, is European Capital of Culture, together with 22 other towns in the country’s Salzkammergut region.

To mark the occasion, the Austrian Mint is launching a three-part White Gold of Hallstatt silver €20 series in February, focussing on the history of the town, which is located in the south of the region. The series begins with Salt Mining, to be followed by Salt Trading in November, with the third and final coin in the series, Beliefs and Rituals, being issued in 2025.

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Some 3,500 years ago, the richest and most technically advanced Europeans lived around Hallstatt, which lies on the southern shore of Lake Hallstatt, where they mined salt, the source of their great wealth. The Salt Mining coins transports us back thousands of years in the Salzkammergut region, where archaeological finds have shown that prehistoric Hallstatt was flourishing because it supplied half of central Europe with that most essential of substances – salt.

The Hallstatt salt mine is the world’s oldest, with salt found in abundance inside the local mountains. During the Iron Age, salt mining and trade led to the prosperity of the people in and around Hallstatt, leading to the name Hallstatt culture being used to describe the archaeological culture of the early Iron Age in Europe.

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As early as 1200 BC, the tools made for mining salt in Hallstatt were highly sophisticated, and cultural exchange with other peoples led to the importation of exotic materials, such as amber, glass, coral and ivory, from as far afield as Africa and Asia. In the mines, the salt has preserved organic materials, such as textiles, wood and leather, and artefacts decorated in styles that were widespread in Europe have also survived in good condition.

The obverse of the coin depecits a pair of deer antler pickaxes with bronze tips found in the prehistoric salt mines of Hallstatt. Rocks and stones symbolising the mines are depicted around the axes, and an ornamental design from the Hallstatt culture is shown in the background. In the style of a collage, the coin’s reverse shows a scene in which salt is mined and transported. The figures are inspired by artistic depictions found on bronze vessels, in particular buckets (situlae), from the Iron Age.

The Salt Mining coin provides a visual representation of the prehistoric beginnings of a unique cultural and industrial landscape.