Sign up for the monthly zoom events by sending a PM with your email address to Hitesh

Main Menu

Croatia, 1930s: Official patterns and a terrorist fantasy

Started by <k>, March 28, 2011, 11:54:43 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


King Alexander I of Yugoslavia.

The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed on 1st December 1918 with the support of the victorious Allies. Peter I of Serbia became King of the new country. When he died in 1921, the crown passed to his son Alexander, seen in the image below.

There were many Serb and Croat nationalists who had never been reconciled to this marriage of their nations, with their very different cultural and historic traditions. Alexander's centralised autocratic rule from Belgrade, which in effect gave hegemony to the Serbs, antagonised the Croats in particular, who campaigned in vain for some form of autonomy. Ethnic tensions came to a head in 1929 when a Montenegrin politician shot various members of the Croat Peasant Party during a sitting of parliament.

As a result, King Alexander set up a royal dictatorship and suppressed the nationalist parties. In 1934 he was assassinated in Marseilles, while on a state visit to France, by a Bulgarian terrorist seeking independence for the Macedonians of Yugoslavia. Implicated in the organisation of the shooting was Ante Pavelić, an exiled leading member of the Ustaša (meaning "Insurrection"), an ultra-nationalist terrorist movement seeking independence for Croatia. Pavelić was originally an elected member of the Yugoslavia parliament, as secretary of the Party of Rights, a Croat nationalist party, but after it was banned, he spent most of the 1930s in Italy, where Mussolini provided financial support and military training for his Ustaša members. In return for Mussolini's support for a Croatian state, Pavelić agreed to accept the Italian claim to Dalmatia, which was part of Croatia then, and still is today.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


Ante Pavelić, 1941, as "Poglavnik" of the Independent State of Croatia.

In the year of King Alexander's death, the Ustaša struck a fantasy piece of 50 kuna in a variety of metals. The piece had no official standing, and was produced solely as a means to raise money for the movement from sympathisers and ex-patriate Croats around the world. The piece incorporates the Ustaša's emblem, which proclaims its sheer terrorist nature: a bomb contained within a capital letter "U". 

The added historical significance of the piece stems from the fact that the Ustaša went on to run the Nazi-backed "Independent State of Croatia" of 1941 to 1945, with Pavelić as the state's "Poglavnik" or "Leader". In its sheer sadistic genocidal brutality against the Serbs, the Ustaša of the 1940s was in every way a match for the bestiality of the Nazis.

Croatia 1934 fantasy obv.jpgCroatia 1934 fantasy rev.jpg

The 1934 fantasy piece.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


Croatia 1941 2 Kune.jpg

An official 2 kune coin issue, dated 1941, of the Independent State of Croatia.

The similarities between that and the 1934 fantasy piece are clear.

The photo of the official coin was taken by forum member Zantetsuken.

To quote a Coin News article of 1996:

The obverse legend of the 5 kuna piece reads ZA NEZAVISNU DRZAVU HRVATSKU, which means "for" or "towards" an independent State of Croatia. Many features of future coins are already apparent on the piece: the Croatian arms, with alternate red and white squares; the name of the country, Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska (Independent State of Croatia); the currency name kuna, meaning "furs"; the Ustasha emblem; and the closed wreath in ancient Croatian style.  A similar piece, also denominated 50 kuna and struck in the USA around 1968, is a sheer copy without any authenticity; errors include spelling mistakes in the legend and the lack of an Ustasha emblem.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


Croatian plasters.jpg

Croatian plasters.

After the death of King Alexander, the new king, Peter II, was too young to take the throne.

Prince Paul therefore ruled Yugoslavia under a regency.

According to Wikipedia:

Prince Paul, far more than Alexander, was Yugoslav rather than Serb in outlook. In its broadest outline his domestic policy was to eliminate the heritage of the Alexandrine dictatorship and to pacify the country by solving the Serb-Croat problem. In August 1939 he set up the Banovina of Croatia, which granted Croatia a certain amount of autonomy.

The concept of a Croatian currency, and this time a legitimate one, cropped up again in 1939, when the Banovina of Croatia concluded a special agreement with the National Bank of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This provided for the issue of an independent Croatian currency, which was to be named either the kuna or the banica, and was to circulate alongside the Yugoslav dinar.

The outbreak of World War 2 put an end to any plans for this currency, so no coins were ever minted. Fortunately, however, we are still able to get a glimpse of what the coins might have looked like. Ivo Kerdić (1881-1953), the renowned Croatian sculptor and medallist, had been commissioned to provide designs for the coins, and he got as far as creating plaster models of some of them. Two of these models survived the war, and they are now kept at The Glyptotheque Museum, Zagreb.

It is not known which denominations were intended to carry these designs, which were probably not intended to be the final versions. They are fine designs, however, and we are lucky that they have been preserved for posterity. In 1941 Croatia did gain an independence of sorts, and a currency to go with it, but in much darker circumstances.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


This topic is part of a developing series on the numismatic heritage of the former Yugoslavia and its constituent parts. To see other topics in this series, click on the links below:

1] Croatia: Nazi Satellite State, 1941-5.

2] Croatia: Rare wartime patterns from the Nazi satellite state.

3] Yugoslavia: Official patterns of the 1920s and 1930s

4] Yugoslavia: Two Kings on Coins.

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


Sounds like your a bit biased, terrorist because they were nationalist and killed a king who deserved his fate. Anyway it was a good post and thankyou for sharing.


Quote from: Enlil on September 29, 2011, 11:57:10 PM
Sounds like your a bit biased, terrorist because they were nationalist and killed a king who deserved his fate. Anyway it was a good post and thankyou for sharing.

I am all in favour of the self-determination of nations. If you are willing to use bombs, the government in power will call you a terrorist. Perhaps you would prefer "freedom fighter"? Martin McGuinness and Nelson Mandela were once regarded as terrorists. Once they came to power, they were conciliators. They used terror when it was necessary but preferred peace when it was not. However, you would do well to read the history of the deeds of the Ustaša and Ante Pavelić after they came to power. They were so sadistic and brutal that they even sickened the Nazis. They were fond of gouging out the eyes of Serbs for fun, and I have seen some of the photos they took - one of a Serb woman, with missing eyes, forced to pose for the camera. Other photos show a young Croat sitting atop a Serb, and smilingly smoking a cigarette as he starts to saw through the neck of the Serb, who has a look of utterly terrified helplessness on his face, while two friends of the Croat laughingly watch the proceedings. This is not to tar Croats: time and again history shows what people are capable of once they are let off the leash by their leaders and given permission to indulge in slaughter. We saw this from the other side in the 1990s, when Slobodan  Milosevic cynically used nationalism as a means of wielding power, while privately admitting that he regarded Serb nationalism as "sh 1 t".

So, I think you would do well to read a little history.

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.


Even by the standards of the thirties, it was wrong to kill for political motives. By those standards, death could be imposed, but after due process, in order to establish guilt or responsibility. Half a century later, it was commonly accepted that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". Likewise, "deserve to die" has changed over time. After two milleniums of state-imposed death, almost all OECD countries have abolished the death penalty or allowed it to fall into disuse.

In our days, the word terrorist has become a political buzz word. Gadaffi claimed the US government is terrorist, because it dealt what he saw as random death to his subjects. It's a hot button that solves nothing and does not invite thought and discussion, but emotion and shouting.

But I agree with you that the thread is very well researched and presented.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


My goal for 2017 is to finish finish my British India copper collection (1/4 anna, 1/2 Pice and 1/12 anna) by year and Mintmark. Any help with missing coins in BU grades is highly appreciated.