11 December 2023
One of this year’s two commemorative €2 coins from Slovakia marks the 200th anniversary of the Vienna–Bratislava express postal service using horse-drawn vehicles.
Established by the Habsburg monarchy, the transport of passengers and mail by the express began in 1823. The service was required due to the growth in the movement of people, goods and mail caused by the impact of the Industrial Revolution.
To speed up the process, mail express coaches (eilpostwagen) were developed. Very well built with good suspension, the coaches were mostly drawn by four or six horses and were able to travel at 12km an hour – an extraordinary speed for the time.
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A test run of the mail express coach took place on 3 May 1823 on the Vienna–Brno route, which covered approximately 144km in 14 hours. As this was considered a success, in the same year the coaches started to operate on the Vienna–Prague route and the Vienna–Bratislava route, where the journey lasted about six hours. As well as a better-designed coach, the elimination of long stops and night-time running helped speed up the journey time.
The coin's design
The design of the national side of the coin depicts a symbolic depiction of the express mail coach service between Vienna and Bratislava. It shows a horse-drawn coach moving at speed, along with a centrally placed rectangular inset containing a post-horn.
Inscribed below the image is the year ‘1823’, when the express mail service began, and below the year are the city names in Slovak, ‘VIEDEŇ’ and ‘BRATISLAVA’. To the right of the coach, the mintmark, denoting the Kremnica Mint (Mincovňa Kremnica), consists of the letters ‘MK’ placed between two dies.
Just below the mark are the stylised initials ‘MP’, referring to the national side’s designer Mária Poldaufová.
The coin has a mintage of 995,000, with a further 5,000 coins available in proof-like quality.