The Czech Mint has just issued a special commemorative medal in honor of late president Václav Havel. The medal, available in gold and silver, depicts Mr Havel, who was for many a national hero, with a smile on his face.
A total of 3700 commemorative medals featuring one of the most beloved figures in recent Czech history, the late president Václav Havel, have just been minted. After the death of Mr. Havel last December, the Czech Mint was approached by many of his admirers, who were hoping that the mint could do something to honor his memory. Its director, Radek Šulta, explains how the idea came about.
“This medal was a reaction to the massive public interest after the death of Mr. Havel last December. We received a number of queries as to how we as the Czech mint could honor the memory of the late president. We decided to do what we do best and issue a commemorative medal. We worked together with the VIZE 97 foundation, which was founded by Václav and Dagmar Havel.”
Of every medal sold – the silver version retails at 2000 Czech crowns while the gold goes for 25,000 crowns – a total of 400 Czech crowns will be donated to the VIZE 97 foundation. The gold version has already sold out, just a few days after it went on pre-order. What other Czech figures have been honored with such limited edition medals? Radek Šulta again.
“We issue fifty to sixty such medals every year. They feature historic figures like Charles IV, Wenceslaus, King of the Romans or George of Poděbrady. But also figures from more recent Czech history, for example the composer Bedřich Smetana, or inventors like Jan Jesenius and so on. So there a lot of different medals, but the only presidents to have their own medals are Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Václav Havel.”
In the Czech Republic, as well as internationally, a number of tributes have been paid to the beloved first post-revolution president in the months after his death. A primary school in Poděbrady, where he studied, has been renamed after Mr. Havel, and a new library in Paris will also carry his name. Just last week, the lower house of Parliament approved the renaming of Prague’s Ruzyně airport to Prague Airport – Václav Havel. Radek Šulta believes there is no question that Mr. Havel’s memory should live on.
“I think it is not necessary to discuss whether or not he should be commemorated, because as a playwright, dissident, and president, he was one of the most important figures in our country’s recent history. On the medal, we have decided to portray him as a person, not as an official, so on it, he is smiling and wearing his regular clothes. We wanted to depict him as the man who was with us for 75 years and who we valued very much.”
For those interested, the silver version of the medal can be pre-ordered through March 29 on the Czech Mint’s website.