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New Croatian Coins Honor Faust Vrančić, the Croatian Leonardo

Faust Vrančić – The Croatian Leonardo
Faust Vrančić – The Croatian Leonardo

On June 28, 2023, the Croatian National Bank issued two new collector coins in collaboration with the Croatian Mint as part of the “Croatian Innovators” series. They are dedicated to Faust Vrančić, a Croatian polymath whose parachute design, published in his 1595 book Machinae novae, is the first appearance of this device in a printed work.

Faust Vrančić: Croatian Inventor

Faustus Verantius, better known in Croatia today as Faust Vrančić, lived during the last phase of the Renaissance, from 1551 to 1617. He was born in the city of Šibenik, now a popular tourist destination, the son of a noble diplomat. His uncle was Archbishop of Esztergom and one of the most famous humanists of his time. It was thanks to him that Vrančić found his way into the world of intellectuals. After studying in Hungary, Padua, and Venice, this gifted man was summoned to Prague by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, to be his secretary. Vrančić served there from 1581 to 1594, during which time he met the intellectual elite of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Following his return, Vrančić pursued his own research in many fields, as was customary at the time. For instance, in 1595, he published a five-language dictionary that would have a lasting influence on the Croatian and Hungarian languages. In the same year, he published what is now his best-known work, entitled Machinae novae (“New Machines”). This work contains descriptions of 56 innovations, accompanied by large-sized images and commentaries in multiple languages. The most well-known image in the book is probably the homo volans, the “flying man”, which depicts a functional parachute. This is the earliest instance of a parachute in a printed work; similar designs by Vrančić’s forerunners, among them Leonardo da Vinci, were always confined to private sketchbooks.

Vrančić died on February 27, 1617, in Venice. His body was brought back home and buried in a church on the island of Prvić.

The Design

The gold and silver coins feature this same design. The reverse depicts a person in traditional early modern clothing, floating from the sky in a harness attached to a square parachute. This image is based on a detail of the original drawing of the “flying man” from Machinae novae, published in 1595 and reprinted in 1616. The inscription “38. HOMO VOLANS” is taken from the publication and refers to the fact that this is the 38th innovation presented by Vrančić, called the “flying man”.

The inscription reads REPUBLIKA HRVATSKA / 100 EURO / 2023 or 4 EURO / 2023 for the silver coin.

The obverse depicts a mill designed by Vrančić, whose shape enables it to be installed inside a tower. During the Renaissance period, mills were an essential source of energy that served many different functions, ranging from milling to cloth production to iron processing. The circumscription reads MACHINAE NOVAE – FAUST VRANČIĆ.

The image was designed by Jelena Mavrić Varga and Paula Banić Vudrag.

Issue Date and Price

As of June 28, 2023, the coins are available to purchase directly from the Croatian Mint shop at croatianmint.hr/en/trgovina. The price is adjusted daily based on current precious metal prices. On July 3, 2023, the price was calculated at 2,142.97 euros for the gold coin and 50 euros for the silver coins + the Croatian VAT rate of 25% for the silver coin; please note that your country’s VAT rate will be applied to exports.

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