Vienna Philharmonic – Europe’s first bullion coin

The widely circulated Vienna Philharmonic gold coin, has enriched the investment market since 1989. The first gold bullion issue in Europe, it is easily recognised by its high fineness and precision images. This investment product from the Austrian Mint is valued by investors worldwide, partly due to its intricate musical motifs which promote awareness and acceptance.

The Vienna Philharmonic bullion coin is available in five attractive denominations: one ounce, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, and a unit weight of 1/25 oz, which is rather unusual in the market. This coin thus offers a choice of denominations to suit every investment budget. Ever since the first issue, this gold coin has been consistently produced in uncirculated quality with a fineness of 999.9/1000. It is produced by the Austrian Mint on behalf of the Austrian government.

Image of the front and back of a Vienna Philharmonic gold coin
Vienna Philharmonic Gold coin
© Xandi -

The motifs on the front and back, which are identical for all coins, offer similar continuity. The reverse bears the inscription ‘Wiener Philharmoniker’ (Vienna Philharmonic) and displays a selection of orchestral instruments. And likewise, the obverse depicts the large pipe organ from the Vienna Musikverein in the centre with coin detail confirming the issuing country as the Republic of Austria and stating the denomination, year of minting, fineness and face value. The background is smooth and the coin has a fluted edge.

With the exception of the year of issue, the motifs on the value and image side remain unchanged from year to year and are identical to those on the first issue. This classic coin design was created by Thomas Pesendorfer, the Austrian Mint’s former chief engraver, who is now retired.

Inspired by Austria’s famous orchestra

The Vienna Philharmonic coin series is dedicated to the concert orchestra of the same name, which was founded in 1842 and has become one of the most famous ensembles in the world. Their New Year’s concerts are broadcast annually by TV stations and eagerly awaited by audiences worldwide. To ensure the coin design would remain the same over the years, it was decided to use images depicting instruments rather than musicians. That’s why the coin bears pictures of a Viennese horn, bassoon, harp, cello, viola and violin.

This clearly has mutual benefits: The precious metal coin gains from the orchestra’s worldwide reputation, while simultaneously increasing interest in the orchestra’s music and continuing to expand its target audience.

Special editions of the Vienna Philharmonic Gold coin

In contrast to the practice of other mints, the Austrian Mint only issues the Gold Philharmonic in its standard Brilliant Uncirculated coinage. Nevertheless, this gold coin remains very popular and is valued by collectors – especially when it comes to coins minted in low-circulation years, such as 2001 or 2006.

However, special editions are minted for important occasions. In 2004, the 15th anniversary of its original minting, a gold coin weighing 1000 ounces was created. Known as “Big Phil”, this coin weighs 31 kilograms and is made from gold with a fineness of 999.9/1000. The mint face value is 100,000 euros. This giant coin has a diameter of 37 centimetres and a rim thickness of two centimetres. Its value currently stands at around 1.67 million Swiss francs. This small commemorative edition ran to just 15 pieces.

The special coins minted for the 20th anniversary are significantly more convenient to handle. These 20-ounce Vienna Philharmonic gold coins from 2009 weighs 622 grams and are also made from 999.9/1000 gold. They have a diameter of 74 millimetres, a thickness of 8.3 millimetres, and a face value of 2000 euros. This edition is limited to 6027 pieces – divided by three, this gives the year 2009.

A Vienna Philharmonic silver coin
A Vienna Philharmonic silver coin
© maexico -

Number of Vienna Philharmonic gold coins produced

Even for the very first edition of the Gold Vienna Philharmonic from 1989, the numbers were comparatively high at 351,000 coins – especially given this was a previously unknown product. But this gold coin quickly established itself on the investment market and so its six-digit mintage continued, albeit often at the lower end of this range. In 2001, when the currency changed from shillings to euros, the Austrian Mint only issued small editions (55,000 one-ounce coins). And in the years that followed, the circulation also remained below the 200,000 mark.

Technical data for the Vienna Philharmonic gold bullion coin:

1 oz 1/2 oz 1/4 oz 1/10 oz 1/25 oz
37.00 mm
28.00 mm
22.00 mm
16.00 mm
13.00 mm
2.00 mm
1.6 mm
1.2 mm
1.2 mm
1.2 mm
31.103 g
15.552 g
7.776 g
3.121 g
1.244 g
Face value*
100 EUR
50 EUR
25 EUR
10 EUR
from 1989
Circulation >2020

* Until 2001 appears as Austrian Schilling (ATS), from 2002 Euro (EUR)

Only after the global banking and financial crisis of 2007 did production volumes significantly increase again due to a high demand. The mint experienced a further upswing in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this particular year, more than 700,000 Philharmonic one-ounce coins were issued, with increases of a similar order in the other four denominations. Between 1989 and 2020, the Austrian Mint issued a total of 20,221,547 Vienna Philharmonic gold coins.

Market position of the Vienna Philharmonic gold coin

Alongside the market-leading Krugerrand (South African Mint), Maple Leaf (Royal Canadian Mint), Australian Kangaroo (Perth Mint) and American Eagle (US Mint), the Vienna Philharmonic is, from an international perspective, one of the best-selling gold coins in the world. This is all the more remarkable given that a comparatively small country thus holds a leading position in the investment market. Austria is a member of the European Union (EU), but like Switzerland it remains politically neutral. In addition, the Austrian Mint enjoys a good reputation worldwide, because it only produces high-quality coins and bars, all of which have become very popular. These features help to create an important aura of trust among the investment community.

Wiener Philharmoniker in Tubes und Masterbox
Wiener Philharmoniker in Tubes und Masterbox
© Jaana Lisette -

The coin’s widespread distribution throughout its more than 30-year history, its high profile, and international trading capacity, are all characteristics which make the Vienna Philharmonic very popular with investors.

Vienna Philharmonic white metal issues

In addition to the gold Philharmonic, the Austrian Mint also issues silver and platinum bullion coins, but not palladium. Since 2008, the Vienna Philharmonic has been issued as a silver coin in one-ounce units with a face value of 1.50 euros. Its motifs are identical to the gold edition, the only differences being that its fineness of 999/1000 silver is not stamped on the coin, and its edge is smooth. The Silver Philharmonic is minted in millions every year (7.2 million in 2020 alone).

The platinum coin version of the Vienna Philharmonic comes in denominations of one ounce (41,000 pieces minted in 2020) and 1/25 oz (5,000 pieces). The fineness is 999.5/1000 for standard coinage, issued in face values of 4 euros and 100 euros.

Summary of the Vienna Philharmonic