Croatia chooses Tesla for euro coins, but Serbia cries foul
- Published: Sep 2, 2021, 4 PM
Scientist Nikola Tesla famously battled Thomas Edison for recognition and respect as contemporaneous inventors.
Today, Tesla is the subject of a battle, between his native Serbia and neighboring Croatia, which plans to honor him numismatically by placing him on three euro coins beginning in 2023.
The National Bank of Croatia in mid-July announced themes for Croatia’s euro coinage, which it will adopt Jan. 1, 2023.
Aside from the designs chosen through a national vote, Tesla won the most write-in votes, featuring in 2,599 of more than 11,000 suggestions.
Tesla, an ethnic Serb, was born in present-day Croatia in 1856 when the country was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Serbia’s national bank threatened to press the European Union to block issuance of Tesla-themed 10-, 20-, and 50-cent coins, according to news reports, calling his appearance on the coins “inappropriate,” and “usurp[ing] the cultural and scientific heritage of the Serbian people.”
The European Commission will decide the fate of the proposed themes this fall.
Other themes for Croatia’s euro coins include a checkerboard motif (which will appear on all eight denominations), a geographical map of Croatia (on the €2 coin), the marten (on the €1 coin), and the Glagolitic script, the oldest known Slavic alphabet (on the 1-, 2-, and 5-cent coins).
Croatia may eventually issue coins honoring Tesla, but it already lost the battle to be first to honor him. Serbia features Tesla on an annual series of 1-ounce silver coins that began in 2018, and also marked the scientist’s 150th birth anniversary on a circulating commemorative 20-dinara coin in 2006.
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