Greek gold coin marks begin of First Balkan War

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November 22, 2012 – On November 5, 2012 the Bank of Greece has issued a new gold collector’s coin to mark one of the most historic and decisive battles fought in Modern Greek history. Known as the First Balkan War, which began in October 1912, it saw the armies of Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria fighting against forces of the Ottoman Empire. Combined military strength of the Balkan allies were successful in conquering much of the Macedonian region and almost all remaining European lands within the Ottoman empire, among some of the more notable and important cities was Thessalonika.

George I, King of Greece, before 1912. Photo: Wikipedia.

With a population of more than a quarter million Greek-speaking peoples, the addition of these new territories more than doubled the geo-political area of the modern state of Greece then headed by HM King George I (1845-1913) of the Glucksburg dynasty.

Under the leadership of Rear Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis (1855-1935) a prominent figure in Greece during the era, the Ottoman fleet was repelled and driven back to borders which are today recognised between Greece and Turkey. Kountouriotis conquered most of the Aegean islands and his victories, due in large part to his daring but successful tactics, earned him the status of a national hero in Greece. Admiral Kountouriotis was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral for ‘exceptional war service’ and was the first Greek career officer since Constantine Kanaris (1795-1877) to reach a rank usually reserved for members of the Greek royal family.

Kountouriotis would eventually become regent of the kingdom in 1920 and then the first president of Greece during the second Republic (1924-1935). The coin, with a face value of 100 Euro is designed by artist / sculptor George Stamatopoulos, (known for his depictions on the one and two Euro Greek circulation coins) and depicts Admiral Kountouriotis in a front-facing portrait in full military uniform along with the Hellenic flag as a backdrop. The Greek Mint’s mintmark is seen just to the lower right. The text around the upper half includes the text in Greek ‘100th year, Balkan War, 1912-2012’ and ‘Pavlos Kountouriotis’ below the commemorative text.

The Averof, 1909 by Sp. Markezinis. Photo: Wikipedia.

The reverse includes a depiction of the Armoured Cruiser, the Georgios Averof built in 1911 and named after the well-known Greek benefactor of the late 19th century. The Hellenic coat of arms is positioned just to the upper left of the primary design. Struck to superb proof quality in .916 fine gold (22 ct), the coin weighs 7.98 grams and has a diameter of 22.1 mm. A mintage of just 1,500 pieces has been authorised.

For more information on this and other coins offered by the Bank of Greece, please visit their website.

A special e-mail address has been arranged for collectors outside of Greece. For information on ordering outside of Greece please send an e-mail.

To learn more about the First Balkan War, watch this National Geographic video clip.