|Transylvania of Ours 1944 medal/coin
|21 mm diameter, 6.55 g, gold 90%, copper 10%, flat edge
Incuse on the edge: NIHIL SINE DEO
Overimposed heads of Michael the Brave, Ferdinand and Mihai inside a circle; outside inscription ARDEALUL NOSTRU (above), meaning TRANSYLVANIA OF OURS and years 1601, 1918 and 1944 below
- designed by Haralambie Ionescu -
|inscription ROMANIA around a crowned Romanian eagle (aquila) head and coats of arms of Romanian counties in Transylvania ripped in 1940
- designed by Ioana Bassarab Starostescu and Ștefan Iordan -
Mintage: 1.000.000 pieces
This piece was struck to "etch in evocative gold the day of Northern Transylvania liberation and to be transmitted and inherited from generation to generation the concrete remembrance of these history pages".
The medal was related to the National Restoration Loan, a public loan that was to be used to pay the war debts of Romania. Such a medal could be bought for 15.000 de lei by those who had bought state titles in amount of 50.000 lei.
On the reverse are depicted the coats of arms belonging to the Romanian counties in the northern Transylvania ripped in 1940 by Hungary with the support of fascist Germany and Italy. They are, in counterclockwise order, starting at 12 o'clock: Trei Scaune, Năsăud, Odorhei, Cluj, Satu Mare, Bihor, Sălaj, Maramureș, Mureș, Ciuc and Someș. In 1944 this territories were being liberated.
Coin or medal?
One might think this is not actually a coin because no denomination value is to be found on either sides. In fact this coin was struck almost accordingly to the Latin Monetary Union rules and characteristics the 20 lei gold coins issued in the 19th century conformed (20 lei 1868, 20 lei 1870, 20 lei 1883 (1884) or 1890, 20 lei 1906, 20 lei 1922). Besides, the coin was struck in a satisfactory number, one million pieces, so that it circulated along the other gold coins. Being made of a precious metal, this is a golden COIN made in the acception of medieval and ancient coins.
These pieces (also known as cockerels or roosters in Romania - and having the same value as the French twenty francs pieces struck at the beginning of the 19th century) continued to circulate thanks to their intrinsic value. Inscribing the value of 20 on those pieces would not have made sense, given the inflation of the time. The hypothesis to be a speculative medal aimed at collectors does not stand due to its large mintage. (Even in nowadays Romania golden coins are circullating, the initial market value had and inscribed on them being ignored.)
Moreover, the piece was actually used in the era as coin, although the use was not legal.
The obverse contains:
-effigy of Michael the Brave, the first to unite the three Romanian principalities (Moldavia, Walachia and Transylvania) under the same rule, though for a short time (1600-1601),
-effigy of Ferdinand, under the reign of which the Transylvanian Romanians rejoined their brothers in 1918 and
-effigy of Michael, the reigning king.
The word ARDEAL you can see is the oldest name Transylvania bore.
The gold coin pictures above are present on Romanian coins through the kind permission of an anonymous donor.
Inside book The History of Coins in Romania (Chronology - Bibliography - Glossary) written by renowned Romanian numismatist Octavian Iliescu (Editura Enciclopedică, Bucharest, 2002, in English) the hypothesis is presented that the mass difference between the medal and the coin standard appeared as an error happened at the mint; the pieces should have had the same characteristics as the usual 20 lei coin. Initially the National Bank had provided enough gold for 1.000.000 pieces of 20 lei. Because the mint has struck the pieces a bit heavier, another 100 kilograms of gold were delivered from the bank's reserves.
The law for issuing "Transylvania of Ours" medals
The "Transylvania of Ours" medals were struck and sold based on the Law no. 656, published in Official Gazette no. 298 from December 23rd 1944. We quote below the articles of that law.
Article 1. The Ministry of Finance is authorized to strike through National Mint and to sell gold commemorative medals, up to a maximum of one million pieces, having the characteristics given at article 3.
Article 2. The price and the selling conditions of these commemorative medals will be set up through a decision of the Minister of Finance.
Article 3. The gold medals released into circulation will have the following characteristics:
a) The medals are made from gold and copper alloy.
b) The title of the alloy is 900 to a thousand gold, with a tolerance of +/- 2 at a thousand, consequently it can vary from 898 to 902 at a thousand.
c) The color of the medal is yellow-golden, corresponding to the title of the alloy.
a) The diameter of the medal is of 21 mm, with a tolerance of +/- 0.05 mm, consequently it can vary between 20.95 and 21.05 mm.
b) The weight of a medal is 6.55 grams, with a tolerance of +/- 2 at a thousand, namely it can vary between 6.5369 and 6.5631 grams.
a) The face (obverse) of the medal represents the effigies of HM King Mihai I, of King Ferdinand I, both wearing the war helmet and of Michael the Brave, wearing the characteristic voivodal cap. The effigies are in profile, superimposed, to the left. Around the effigies is engraved with capital letters the text: "Ardealul nostru" and years "1601, 1918, 1944". The portraits are framed inside a thin circle in relief.
b) The back (reverse) of the medal has engraved in the middle the head of the heraldic eagle from the country's coat of arms, having written in the lower part the text "Romania". Round about are represented the coat of arms of the 11 counties from Northern Transylvania, recovered in year 1944.
c) The edge of the medal forms a flat cylindrical surface, having incuse, with capital letters, text "Nihil sine Deo".
Article 4. The commemorative medals put on sale in the conditions of the present law are assimilated with the objects made of precious metals excepted from the legal restrictions concerning their possession and circulation, in conformity with article 3 of Law no. 1907 from August 12th 1936, modified by Law no. 3203 from September 12th 1938, published in Official Gazette no. 213 from September 14th 1938.
From the text of the law we can draw some conclusions:
1. the official name of this piece was "jubilee medal";
2. the mintage figure of 1.000.000 pieces is the maximum mintage, so it is possible that the real mintage is smaller than one million (since today we did not find any information about the number of pieces effectively sold to the population);
3. the mass of the coin is 6.55 grams through the will of the lawmaker and not due to an error, so the difference between the medal/coin and the gold 20 lei coins was intentional.
About the confiscation of the medals/coins "Transylvania of Ours" by the Communist regime
The Law no. 284 from August 15th 1947, published in the Official Gazette in the same day, stipulated that the gold, the foreign currencies and other means of payment must be handed to the National Bank of Romania. The medal "Transylvania of Ours" was explicitly mentioned in more than one article of this law (articles cited in the following paragraph).
Article 1. The persons established in the country, having in property or in possession with any title, the values specified below at article 2, are obliged to hand them to the National Bank of Romania in exchange for lei, at the official exchange rate, in term of 15 days from the date of publishing of the present law in the Official Gazette.[...]
Article 2. It will be handed:
a) The gold in any form, as well as the jubilee medals issued on the basis of Decree-law no. 656 from 1944, with the following exceptions: the gold in the forms mentioned by article 6 from Law no. 638 from 1946; the necklaces made from Austrian large and small ducats (large and small yellows); the mahmudele and icusari [our note: gold Turkish coins], as well as the numismatic collections recognized as such by the National Bank of Romania, inside the term for handing established by the present law. These exceptions are restrictive. The jewels made from gold coins struck after year 1800 are not excepted; [...]
Article 14. The one who infringes the orders of the present law will be punished with the confiscation of the values not yielded or not declared, with 5 - 25 years of prison and with a fine equal to five times the confiscated value, without the possibility of extenuating circumstances to be granted. [...]
The confiscated values in the advantage of the State will be liquidated for the state at the official exchange rate. The National Bank of Romania will retain from the value in lei of the confiscated goods 25% for its suing costs and 20% for distributing as bonuses, from which 10% for the denouncer and 10% for the discloser [...].
Article 16. The demands of the Law no. 656 from 1944, concerning the circulation of the commemorative gold medals, are and remain abrogated; the demands of article 7, b from the Law no. 638 from 1946 are also abrogated.