Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Maria Theresa Connection

Munzturn, Hall bei Innsbruck

Watercolour and crayon

©1996 Charlene Brown

I won’t get a chance to paint for the next couple of weeks, so here’s another flashback to the twentieth century – to one of the paintings I did in the Tirol region of Austria in 1996. I'll post another Tirol painting next week.

In the antique shops in the United Arab Emirates, where I was living at the time, I’d found a surprising number of Maria Therese silver dollars among the collections of old coins. I had thought this a little odd until I learned that these beautifully designed coins were in widespread use for many years throughout the Middle East – accepted as an international currency because of their always reliable quality and value. I was familiar with Maria Theresa’s continuing fame in her native Austria, but had been unaware of the indirect renown of this popular ruler in the Gulf.

The coins were originally minted in the town of Hall, just east of Innsbruck in 1780. The classic alpine fortification structure of the Hall Mint, the Munzturn, provides an interesting additional aspect of Austrian architecture in this town which has many beautiful old buildings.