World Coins

Hungary commemorates Reformation with two coins

Hungary marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with the Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel 2,000-forint coin shown here, as well as a Proof silver 10,000-forint version.

Coin images courtesy of the Hungarian Central Bank.

On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther, Augustinian monk, nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church in the German town of Wittenberg.

This set off the seminal event known as the Protestant Reformation.

To mark the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, the National Bank of Hungary is issuing on Oct. 31 a silver 10,000-forint coin and a copper-nickel 2,000-forint coin.

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In posting the theses, Luther challenged the position of the Catholic Church on the forgiveness of sins. The theses claimed that it was not the pope but God alone who could forgive sins, based on the repentance of the sinner. Accordingly, Luther’s theses condemned the practice of selling indulgences.

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The challenge initiated the great movement of the Protestant Reformation, which spread very quickly and enjoyed mounting support in society.

By the middle of the century, the Reformation began to spread in Hungary, contributing greatly to the development of Hungarian language and literature, one of its fundamental ideas being that everyone should have access to the Bible in their native language. As a result of the Reformation, new centers of culture developed, and the first full Hungarian version of the Bible, translated by Gáspár Károli, was printed in Vizsoly.

The Reformed Church became the most influential branch of Protestantism in Hungary, but the Lutheran Church and the Unitarian Church also had significant impacts on the nation’s cultural history.

Today the Reformation’s legacy is remembered on two new coins, a Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel 2,000-forint piece and a Proof .925 fine silver 10,000-forint coin.

These coins feature almost identical designs (the denomination indication being the only difference). 

The obverse depicts the facade of a church with open doors, symbolizing that the Reformation brought people closer to religion, as the word of God was preached in local languages rather than only in the Latin Mass. The sturdy walls of the church allude to the Protestant hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” composed by Martin Luther. The image of a dove, in symbol of the Holy Spirit, appears in the window above the door of the church. Rays emanating from the open gates symbolize the Holy Spirit flowing out.

The reverse shows an open Bible on a windowsill, with the Greek letters alpha on the left and omega on the right, standing for the beginning and the end. Believers say the Reformation sharpened the focus on the Holy Scriptures as the source of truth. Above the Bible, a dove hovers in the window in symbol that the Bible is understood only with help from the Holy Spirit.

A legend translating to “500th Anniversary of the Reformation” is at the bottom of a ribbon-like bookmark, indicating that the process has not ended and that reformation and renewal are always needed. The mark of the sculptor, Róbert Csíkszentmihályi, is on the other end of the ribbon.

Both legal tender commemorative coins measure 38.61 millimeters in diameter and have a mintage limit of 5,000 pieces.

The copper-nickel coin weighs 30.8 grams and costs $19.75.

The silver coin weighs 31.46 grams and costs $59.75.

To order, contact the Hungarian Mint’s North American representative.

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