The Assembly Hall of the Hungarian National Museum will host a double event. Museum copies of the coins and banknotes issued by the Magyar Nemzeti Bank in 2017 will be presented ceremonially, followed by the launch of the English version of ‘The Silver of Fairyland. A Transylvanian Thaler Collection in the Magyar Nemzeti Bank’, a catalogue and collection of papers published in the summer.

As part of its corporate social responsibility obligations, the MNB has for decades presented all circulation notes and coins, collector coins, banknotes issued during the given year, as well as their trial strikes, as museum copies to the Coins Collection of the Hungarian National Museum. In 1999, the transfer of banknotes and coins issued was laid down in an official agreement, based on which works of art worth approximately HUF 8-10 million are transferred to the Coins Collection of the Hungarian National Museum every year.

Collector coins and their trial strikes represent the most important, exquisitely crafted pieces of the collection, which, by being relatively rare, are of significantly greater value than their denomination. The Magyar Nemzeti Bank has regularly issued collector coins since 1968 in connection with Hungary’s historical, scientific and cultural events and anniversaries as well as international events. Collector coins are Hungarian legal tender; however, they are not circulation coins, but serve to commemorate an important event or raise general awareness. This year, 19 collector coins were issued under ten different topics. Of these, two were gold, seven were silver and ten were non-ferrous metal collector coins.

The MNB continued three of its collector coin series this year: the Bükk National Park collector coin as part the series presenting Hungarian national parks; the János Irinyi coin as part of the series dedicated to Hungarian scientists and investors (the coin, with a rainbow effect on its surface, is of technological interest for collectors); and the series presenting the national memorial sites was expanded with the Kossuth tér collector coin. By issuing the Saint Margaret collector coin with a face value of HUF 50,000, a piece with the highest denomination within this year’s issuing programme, the Bank in 2017 launched a new gold collector coin series in honour of the Saints of the House of Árpád. Another feature of the programme is the Compromise collector coin, with an exceptionally large diameter of 52.5 mm.

The Bank also commemorated important anniversaries, including the 650th anniversary of the foundation of the University of Pécs, the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation; the 200th anniversary of the birth of Zsuzsanna Kossuth and János Arany; the 125th anniversary of the birth of László Lajtha. This year’s full coin issuance programme can be downloaded here.

The presentation of the coins and banknotes will be followed by the official launch of the book titled ‘The Silver of Fairyland. A Transylvanian Thaler Collection in the Magyar Nemzeti Bank’. As part of its Depository Programme, the MNB in 2015 purchased István Törő’s 16-17th century Transylvanian thaler collection consisting of 220 pieces, which has been deposited in the MNB’s coin collection for five years for the purposes of processing and displaying. This collection of works of art, unparalleled in every aspect, was on display in the Hungarian National Museum in the summer of 2016. Then, the Bank, jointly with the Hungarian National Museum, presented the collection as part of a planned six-city travelling exhibition, first in Székesfehérvár in the spring of 2017. As the second station of the exhibition tour, The Silver of Fairyland. Fabulous Treasures of Our Princes, supplemented with other rare coins and objects, will be on display in Nyíregyháza at the András Jósa Museum until 28 February 2018.

This is a milestone of work commenced two years ago: after the Hungarian the catalogue has also been issued in English. It contains detailed descriptions and same-size photos of all 220 pieces of coins (thalers, half thalers, quarter thalers and collector coins).

At the same time, the present volume is much more than a simple collection catalogue, as it provides a real historical background to the 150-year history of the Principality of Transylvania with the help of numismatics. Expert researchers, including archaeologists, historians, art historians and numismatists, have contributed papers which cover virtually every aspect of the history of coinage in Transylvania. The volume contains accounts of mining in the Principality, contemporary payments and money values, as well as the changes in sovereign titles of Princes from the beginnings to the final days of the Principality.

Detailed studies expound on the background of the design elements of coins: the various ways of portrait painting, the different heraldic elements and also how engravers recreated regal symbols and weapons (armours, maces and sabres) on thalers. Last but not least, the book provides a colourful description of the special collection of dies owned by the Magyar Nemzeti Bank which also includes original Transylvanian dies from the 17th century.

Depository Programme

The Magyar Nemzeti Bank launched the Depository Programme, a project of repurchasing art treasures in January 2014. One of the main aims of the Programme is to regain for Hungary the largest possible amount of art treasures of significant artistic value, created by Hungarian or foreign artists and brought abroad or into under foreign ownership in previous historical periods. Another main aim is to prevent the dispersion of the most important works of art held in domestic estates by purchasing them. The Head of the Depository Programme is Ferenc Gerhardt, Deputy Governor of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank. The Programme is coordinated by an Advisory Board consisting of heads and eminent experts of national public collections as well as the Bank’s Deputy Governor. It is also a key task of the Advisory Board to determine the authenticity art treasures, their importance in the history of art as well as their value. The MNB’s Executive Board has allocated EUR 100 million or HUF 30 billion to the implementation of Depository Programme until the end of 2018.