Croatia: Acclaimed Author of Classic Children’s Stories Honoured on New Gold and Silver Coins

The National Bank of Croatia have released new gold and silver BU quality coins in honour of one of the country’s most beloved author of classic Children’s stories.

by Michael Alexander | Published on May 14, 2024

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of her birth, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1874 – 1938) remains one of the most beloved and esteemed authors in the country as every Croatian remembers the children’s stories they grew up with. Often compared to the likes of Hans Christian Andersen or JRR Tolkien, her children’s books were resplendent with empathy, fantasy, love and excitement.

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was born into a well-connected conventional family that had already produced two authors. This enabled her to enjoy an excellent education, with an emphasis on learning foreign languages. In addition to her native Croatian, Ivana spoke excellent French, German and Russian and was able to converse fluently in English and Italian. However, her first poems were not in Croatian but in French, a language she admired and was comfortable communicating in. On her 18th birthday, Ivana married Vatroslav Brlić, a much older politician and lawyer with whom she had six children. Following the customs of her time, Ivana was in charge of her large family and household including a staff of many which enabled her to be an effective support to her husband in political matters but also to pursue her literary talent.

For a woman, pursuing a literary career was unusual in itself but the thought of producing serious literature was almost unheard of – in this regard, Brlić-Mažuranić chose the topic of children’s stories and fairy tales. Her first short stories were first published in 1903 in magazines and journals. In 1913, her book The Marvellous Adventures and Misadventures of Hlapić the Apprentice was published and which distinguished her as a true literary talent, catching the public's imagination. Ultimately, her works would be translated into more than 40 languages, becoming world-famous with her Priče iz davnine, the English translation Croatian Tales of Long Ago published in 1916. In this work, Mažuranić created a series of eight new fairy-tales, using names and motifs from the Slavic mythology of Croats. It was this book that earned her comparisons to Hans Christian Andersen and Tolkien who also wrote completely new stories but based in some elements of real mythology.

Brlić-Mažuranić received much attention for her literary fairy tales, especially from acclaimed critics. She was even nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1931 and 1937. In 1937, she became a corresponding member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the first woman to hold this position. Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić died in September 1938 at the age of 64 and was buried in Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb. In her works, Brlić-Mažuranić conveyed eternal moral values to her readers. Her primary message to her young readers was that no malice of forethought could prevail against truth, mercy and love. This world view enabled children to gain a feeling of basic trust and truth in life.

The gold and silver select BU quality coins are produced by the Croatian Mint at their facilities in Sveta Nedelja on behalf of the Croatian National Bank. Designed by Kuzma Kovačić, the obverse side which is shared on both gold and silver examples depicts a bust of Brlić-Mažuranić in a three-quarter view from the front. Placed to the left and right of the bust and along the rim is the inscription IVANA BRLIĆ-MAŽURANIĆ along with the years 1874 and 2024 shown just to the right of Brlić-Mažuranić’s image. The reverse side references Brlić-Mažuranić’s 1916 publication with the depiction of a large tree, adopted the cover image of the first edition of the Priče iz davnine with an image the main character carved in its trunk. Above and along the upper rim is the text REPUBLIKA HRVATSKA (Republic of Croatia) with the denomination 100 EURO (gold) or 4 EURO (silver) placed to the lower right of the tree trunk.

Denomination Metal Weight Diameter Quality Mintage Limit 
4 Euro999.9 Silver 31.1 g. 38.6 mm.  Select BU4,000 
100 Euro 999.9 Gold31.1 g. 32 mm. Select BU150 

Both the gold and silver coins are encapsulated and presented in a custom case accompanied with a certificate of authenticity. For additional information, please visit the online e-webshop of the Croatian Mint.

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Author: Michael Alexander

Michael Alexander image Michael’s background in both numismatics and banknotes spans more than three decades and whose activities have varied from being a dedicated world coin collector to coin & medal design, marketing, theme concept and production. His additional interests include banknote research and in 1997, he founded the London Banknote and Monetary Research Centre to further these interests and activities. The company continues to offer monthly currency bulletins to both online and printed publications which includes information about the latest banknote news and releases from Central Banks and Monetary Authorities around the world. Michael has been a contributor to COIN NEWS magazine based in the UK since 1998 where many of his in-depth interviews, articles and bulletins have been published.

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