Austrian 20 Euro Commemoratives
The 20 Euros (as well as 100 Schillings) that comprise the "Austria through the Ages" series are
pictured on this page.  
(Austria thru the Ages)    

2004 SMS Novara,  20 Euro

On the reverse of the coin is a double portrait of Archduke Ferdinand Max and Commodore
Wüllerstorf.  Before them on a table is a ship's globe and navigation instruments, as well as a
microscope denoting the scientific nature of the mission.
2004 SMS Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, 20 Euro

The reverse shows Tegetthoff himself after a famous painting by Anton Romako.  He stands on the bridge, resolute but calm,
with hands in his pockets, while four crew members struggle with the wheel to bring the ship into a ramming position.

The S.M.S. Erzherzog Ferdinand Max was launched in 1865 as one of the new ironclad steam ships.  In 1866 she was chosen
by Admiral Tegetthoff to be his flagship in the Battle of Lissa, where she rammed and sank the Italian flagship, the Re d'Italia.
Two years later she became the flagship of the fleet and in 1869 accompanied the Emperor Franz Joseph on his visit to the
Holy Land and the opening of the Suez Canal.  In the following decade the S.M.S. Erzherzog Ferdinand Max served in the
second reserve, until in 1885 she was taken out of service and became an assistant ship in the Artillery School.  Archduke
Franz Ferdinand wanted to preserve her as a historic vessel, but the Ferdinand Max was finally broken up in 1916.

2005 SMS Admiral Tegetthoff, Polar Expedition, 20 Euro

The reverse side shows the expedition leaders, Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht, in their Arctic clothing with the frozen
ship caught in the ice behind them.

The Austro-Hungarian polar expedition of 1872 was a very heroic one.  The leaders of this expedition, which aimed at sailing
the north-east passage around Russia to the Bering Straits and the Pacific, were the naval officer, Karl Weyprecht, and the
infantry officer, Julius von Payer, who in 1870 had taken part in the second German polar expedition.

The expedition ship was a three mast schooner with an auxiliary steam engine to make her independent of the weather. She
was constructed in the northern German port of Bremerhaven especially for the expedition, and was named the Admiral
Tegetthoff after the great Austrian seaman who had died the year before. They set sail on 13th June, 1872, but after reaching
Arctic waters the ship became hopelessly trapped in ice drifts. No efforts of the crew could free the Tegetthoff from the frozen
mass and they drifted with the ice helplessly for just over a year.

On 30th August, 1873, land was sighted to the north-west.  Jubilant with renewed hope, they named their discovery “Franz
Joseph Land” after the Emperor of Austria.  But they had to wait until the 2nd November before they could set foot on land,
because they were too distant and the ice was not safe for crossing.  Only when they were three nautical miles away, did the
drift ice freeze together with the land.

They spent the next few months exploring what turned out to be an island group covered in ice and snow.  The cold and
weather conditions were often appalling.  It was obvious that they would never get the Tegetthoff free again, so on 20th May,
1874, they struck out on foot for the open sea to the south, dragging three lifeboats with them.  It was a slow and physically
harrowing journey, but by mid-August they had reached their goal and they put out to sea where they were picked up by two
Russian fishing vessels a few days later.  They had been out in the open for 96 days since abandoning the Tegetthoff.

Back in Vienna they were celebrated as heroes, and were rewarded with both Austrian and foreign medals and distinctions.  
They had succeeded in writing a stirring chapter of Austrian and world history.

2005 SMS Sankt Georg 20 Euro

After the celebrations opening the great Jamestown Exposition, which included an international naval review before President
Theodore Roosevelt, the ships visited the Annapolis Naval Academy before moving up the coast to New York. During their stay
there, the captains had to cancel all shore-leave in order to stem the number of desertions, since the Sankt Georg had 17
men jump ship and the Aspern lost 10 crew members. The call of the New World was proving too strong! The Sankt Georg and
the Aspern were the last Austrian naval vessels to visit America.

In the First World War, the Sankt Georg was confined to operations in the Adriatic Sea, as was the rest of the imperial navy.
The end of her story was regrettably less admirable. In February, 1918, her crew joined with some other disaffected sailors in
the southern Adriatic port of Cattaro (Kotor) in a short-lived mutiny.  In April she was decommissioned and awarded to the
British as war booty after the armistice. The Sankt Georg was broken up and scrapped in Genoa at the end of 1920.
Austrian Coins,
Medals & Tokens
The obverse shows the S.M.S. Novara under full sail in
Chinese waters. The coast can be seen in the
background as well as a Chinese junk. This side also
bears the face value and the country of issue "Republik
Oesterreich", Republic of Austria.
The second coin in the silver series "Austria on the High Seas" is dedicated to the
S.M.S. Erzherzog Ferdinand Max named after the Archduke (Erzherzog) Ferdinand
Max, brother of the Emperor Franz Joseph, commander-in-chief of the Austrian
navy and from 1864 the ill-fated Emperor of Mexico.

The coin shows the Ferdinand Max under full steam heading for the island of Lissa
in the Adriatic Sea, and the battle with a superior Italian fleet. Tegetthoff's admiral's
flag flutters from the mizzenmast.
The third silver coin in the “Austrian on the High Seas” series continues to celebrate
Austrian successes on global seas, this time reaching into the far north.

The obverse shows the ship the Admiral Tegetthoff steaming into Arctic waters
surrounded by the frozen landscape. The country of issue REPUBLIK ÖSTERREICH,
“Republic of Austria” as well as the year of issue 2005 and the name of the
expedition ship EXPEDITIONSSCHIFF ADMIRAL TEGETTHOFF are also located on
this side of the coin.
The Fourth 20 Euro silver commemorative in the “Austrian on the High Seas” series
is dedicated to the armoured cruiser S.M.S. Sankt Georg, which was launched in
1903 in the naval dockyards in the harbour of Pola (today “Pula” in Croatia) and was
taken into active service in the imperial navy in 1905.  Its first overseas mission (that
is, outside the Mediterranean) was in 1907 when it was dispatched together with the
smaller cruiser S.M.S. Aspern to represent Austria-Hungary at the celebrations of
the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia.