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Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić: The Woman Who Gave Croatia Its Fairy Tales

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was born on 18 April 1874. 150 years later, the Croatian National Bank is honouring this great poet with a commemorative coin, issued in cooperation with the Croatian Mint. After all, everyone in Croatia knows Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić – to this day, Croatian children grow up listening to her fairy tales and stories.

Content

The 100-euro gold coin 150th Birthday of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Image: Croatian Mint.

The 100-euro gold coin 150th Birthday of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. Image: Croatian Mint.

A Usual Yet Unusual Fate for a Woman

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić came from a well-connected bourgeois 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 Croatian, she spoke excellent French, German and Russian and was able to speak fluent English and Italian. This is why she wrote her first poems not in Croatian but in French.

On her 18th birthday, Ivana married Vatroslav Brlić, a much older politician and lawyer. She bore him six children, two of whom died shortly after birth. Following the customs of her time, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was in charge of her large household and numerous servants, who enabled her to support her husband in political matters and to pursue her literary talent. As a woman, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić did not dare to write “high literature” but rather children’s books – full of empathy, fantasy, love and excitement. And she was very successful with this. Her works were translated into more than 40 languages. She became world-famous with her Priče iz davnine, published in 1916 (the title of the English translation reads Croatian Tales of Long Ago). It is a collection of eight imaginative stories. Today, every Croat is familiar with the characters from these stories, many of which have become proverbial.

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić received much attention for her literary fairy tales – even from acclaimed critics. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize 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.

Croatia / 100 euro / Gold 0,9999 / 1 oz / 32 mm / Mintage: 150 / Image: Croatian Mint.

Croatia / 100 euro / Gold 0,9999 / 1 oz / 32 mm / Mintage: 150 / Image: Croatian Mint.

An Infallible Moral Compass

In her works, the author Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić conveyed eternal moral values to her readers. In her fabulous stories, no conspiracy could stand against truth, mercy and love. This world view, which can also be found in modern fantasy literature, helps children to gain a feeling of basic trust in life. In numerous coming-of-age stories, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić tells how it is possible to grow up without denouncing the essential values of childhood. Her stories are still significant today. In 2000, for example, a multi-media project was launched to translate the stories from Priče iz davnine into our modern world of media.

Croatia / 4 euro / Silver 0,9999 / 1 oz / 38,61 mm / Mintage: 4,000 / Image: Croatian Mint.

Croatia / 4 euro / Silver 0,9999 / 1 oz / 38,61 mm / Mintage: 4,000 / Image: Croatian Mint.

The Design

The two coins have the same design. The obverse depicts the author’s bust in a three-quarter view from the front. The circumscription mentions her name, her year of birth and the year of mintage. In the left field are the small initials of the artist who designed the motif, Kuzma Kovačić.

The reverse shows the respective denomination as well as the circumscription REPUBLIKA HRVATSKA. The motif shows a magnificent tree, with the cover vignette of the first edition of the Priče iz davnine from 1916 carved in its trunk.

The tree refers to the fairy tale of Toporko and the nine princes: a well-meaning nature spirit turned nine maple trees into sons for a good, childless prince. The nature spirit commanded that the sons were to grow up in the open air – but the prince was far too worried to do so. He dressed them, erected tents over them and even built a wall in the end. During the transformation, however, some magic fell onto a small beech tree trunk. The latter also turns into a child, which is raised by woodcutters. Named Toporko, he decides to find his brothers. When he finds them behind the walls, he takes them out to discover the world with together. Deeply saddened, the prince searches for his sons everywhere. But it is not until he has learnt his lesson that Toporko brings them back. And so the prince tears down all the walls to let his sons grow up as part of the world.

With this universal message to all parents, the collector coin makes an excellent gift for parents-to-be.

Portrait of the author Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1874-1938).

Portrait of the author Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1874-1938).

Issue Date and Price

Anyone who wanted to obtain one of the gold issues had to be quick: after the launch on April 22, 2024, it only took a short time for the gold coins to be completely sold out. Pieces in silver can still be purchased directly from the Croatian Mint store. Their price is adjusted on a daily basis, depending on the current silver price. Added to this is the VAT of the country the buyer has the coin shipped to.

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