Republic of Austria, 1 Groschen 1931

In 1919, after the First World War, the Austrian dynasty of the Hapsburgs had to give up their hereditary right to rule. In 1920 the new constitution of the Austrian First Republic came into effect. The familiar emblem of the majestic double-headed eagle that had symbolised the power of the Hapsburgs as kings and emperors for centuries had to be redesigned: it was no longer the quality of the eagle as monarch of the sky that was emphasised, but its eagle-eyed vigilance. The head of the familiar eagle was there to encourage trust in the young republic – trust that the business of state would be carried out with vigilance and care. It was not a new thought; as early as the 4th century BC, an eagle’s head had been minted on ancient Greek coins as a symbol of vigilance.