World Coins

Slovakia shows historic steamship on silver commem

The Carolina was the first steamer to traverse the Danube, a milestone memorialized with a new silver €10 coin.

Images courtesy of the National Bank of Slovakia.

A 2018 silver coin from Slovakia celebrates a milestone in sailing history for that country.

The .900 fine silver €10 coin marks the 200th anniversary of the first successful steam travel on the Danube. 

Inventor and builder Antal Bernhard took advantage of interest in steamboat transportation in government circles in Austria-Hungary. 


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On Nov. 6, 1817, the Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph I, issued a decree on steamboat transportation, offering patent privileges for steamer operations on the rivers of the empire for an applicant who would be able to demonstrate a steam-powered ship. 

Bernhard, already working on a ship for some time, fulfilled the conditions laid down in the decree. He had built a steamboat to his own design and named it Carolina after Princess Caroline Augusta of Bavaria.

The boat’s maiden journey took place on March 21, 1817. The steamer had a length of 15 meters, a beam of 3.5 meters, and a freeboard of 2.3 meters. The steam engine generated 24 horsepower.

The imperial decree required steamboats to be able to transport a load of 11 metric tons. Bernhard’s Carolina exceeded this four-fold and was able to haul a load of 45 metric tons upstream.

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The Carolina had to be tested over a longer distance, however, and the route from Vienna to Bratislava was chosen for this purpose. It made its first long test journey on Sept. 2, 1818, taking three hours to reach Bratislava, mooring at the quay near Coronation Mound. 

The next day, according to the Pressburger Zeitung newspaper, the steamer put on a demonstration for curious onlookers by turning upstream and downstream several times. 

The next destination was Pest (a county in Hungary), from where it would showcase its ability to travel upstream, one of the conditions for sailing on the Danube.

The Carolina steamed upriver from Pest for the first time on Sept. 16, 1818. A three-member committee of state officials was on board to verify that it moved under its own power, using only its steam engine and with no help from the shore. Since the Carolina had no lights and traveled only during the day, it was not until Sept. 26 that it reached Komárno.

The actual time in motion — according to the preserved log book of the Carolina — was 71 hours, during which the steamer covered a distance of 120 kilometers at a service speed of about 0.6 kilometer an hour.

The coin’s obverse design portrays technical parts of the Carolina. Slovakia’s coat of arms is situated on the left side, below the name of the issuing country SLOVENSKO.

The year of issuance 2018 is shown at the bottom of the obverse. In the upper right of the design are the Mint mark of the Kremnica Mint (consisting of the letters MK between two dies) and the stylized letters ZF, the initials of the coin’s designer Zbynek Fojtu.

The reverse depicts the Carolina with a view of Bratislava in the background. At the bottom of the design is the coin’s denomination, 10 EURO, and at the top is a Slovakian inscription translating to “The first steamer in Bratislava” in semi-circle. At the left side is the year 1818, when the Carolina made her maiden journey.

The coin weighs 18 grams, measures 34 millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 11,000 pieces in both Proof and Uncirculated qualities. 

To order, visit the Kremnica Mint website


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