By Coin & Currency Institute ……
King Matthias I (Matthias Corvinus, originally Mátyás Hunyadi) was Hungary’s first elected king and one of the most popular historical figures in the country’s history. The year 2018 is a double anniversary – of the 560th anniversary of his coronation, and the 575th anniversary of his birth, and it is being celebrated in Hungary as the King Matthias Memorial Year. The Hungarian Mint has joined the commemoration with the issue of two versions of a coin with identical designs, one a 20,000 forint sterling silver piece, and the other a 2,000 forint in copper-nickel. The coins pay tribute to him with representations of artifacts from his life.
The central motif on the obverse is a half-length bust of the king from a detail from the relief of him in Bautzen, Germany. It is said that the king had seen this himself. The Mint points out that while this depiction deviates from the more well-known images of Matthias, it accurately depicts him in arms with his regalia (a scepter in his right hand, an orb in his left, and a crown above his head). The lower horizontal field shows an ornamental detail from Matthias’ coat-of-arms, the crow, in a subtle reference to the king’s commitment to science and learning.
The lower third of reverse back features a detail from the original throne of Matthias Corvinus, with the image of a Gothic-style helmet and armor at the center, symbolizing his martial and military organizational achievements. He was the first Hungarian sovereign to have left his signature on surviving official documents. His calligraphic signature is above that. At the top is a copy of the gold florin of King Matthias as a coin within a coin. It is a reference the monetary reforms introduced by him and the introduction of the Madonna and child image, which was a key element on Hungarian gold florins, as well as coins of other nations, for long thereafter. To the left of the medieval coin are found the dates 1443, -58 and -90, marking the years of his birth, ascension to throne and death, with the number 14 emphasized for the fourth century of the first millennium. To the left of the florin is the mint date 2018 with the mint mark BP. for Budapest visible below. The 0 in the mint date forms a ring, which is held in the beak of a crow, the animal featuring in the Hunyadi coat-of-arms. The coins each measure 52.5 mm (2.05 inches) in diameter, making them Hungary’s largest coins. The 20,000 forint, .925 fine silver coin is issued in proof quality only. It weighs 77.76 grams and costs $99.75 while supplies last.
The uncirculated copper-nickel 2,000 forint weighs 76.5 grams. Its price is $19.75.The first day of issue is November 17 and they will be available in December. Mintage is limited to 5,000 of each.
To order, or for more information on these and other coins of Hungary, contact the Hungarian Mint’s North American Representative at P.O. Box 399, Williston, VT 05495. Toll-free: 1-800-421-1866. Fax: 802-536-4787. Email: [email protected], or click on the Hungarian flag at www.coin-currency.com for secure website ordering. Add $5.75 to each order for shipping and handling in the U.S.A. Shipping to other countries will be based on actual cost. Vermont residents add 6% sales tax. Those desiring to receive information and photographs electronically on a regular basis can provide their email address to [email protected].
A Brief Biography
Matthias Corvinus (b. February 23, 1443 in Kolozsvár – d. April 6, 1490 in Vienna) was King of Hungary from 1458 to 1490 and was an outstanding figure in Hungarian and European history. His moniker ‘Corvinus’ (meaning ‘crow’) came from the crow on the coat-of-arms of the Hunyadi family.
The son of John Hunyadi is considered by Hungarians and many other neighboring peoples to be one of the greatest kings, and his memory lives on in many legends and sayings. He was one of the most well-known and popular rulers in Hungarian history, who strongly increased Hungary’s contemporary reputation. He had already amassed considerable experience in social and political life as a child. Tutored by one of the country’s most learned men, John Vitéz, Bishop of Várad, he received a broad education in the spirit of humanism.
Matthias Corvinus was an outstanding Hungarian politician of the 15th century. As an elected king, he struggled with issues of legitimacy but was able to solidify his grip on power. He was skilled at exercising royal power but was not very popular during his own day and age. Matthias was the first Hungarian sovereign to organize a standing army of mercenaries from the considerably increased royal revenues. As a pragmatic politician, he was acutely aware of the strength of the Ottoman Empire, against which he waged a cautious defensive war. At the same time, he looked to conquests in the west. His original regnal titles included King of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, Rama, Serbia, Galicia, Lodomeria, Cumania and Bulgaria, to which was added the title of King of Bohemia after his election to this throne in 1469, and Duke of Austria, after his campaigns in Lower Austria.
Cultivated and intelligent, Matthias Corvinus was a great patron of art and science and a lover of books. He spent huge amounts on acquiring books from around the world, mainly from Italy. His library included ancient classics of philosophy and natural science in Latin, Greek and, Hebrew, as well as the ecclesiastical works of later ages and the literary works of Roman writers. Most of these codices were manuscripts. At its peak, the ‘Bibliotheca Corviniana’ likely numbered some 2,000 volumes in the king’s palace, placing it on par with the Vatican library at that time.