The 5 Pengo was minted in Budapest Hungary in 1938 to commemorate the 900th Anniversary of the death of Saint Stephen (Stephan) who is regarded as Hungary's greatest King and to some the first true King of Hungary.
King Stephan reigned as King of Hungary from 1001 until his death in 1038. He was responsible for establishing the Kingdom of Hungary as well as establishing Christianity throughout the kingdom. He abolished the old tribal divisions and partitioned the land into counties, under a system of governors and magistrates. He also received a crown, apostolic cross and letters of blessing and recognition from the Pope and Roman Emperor that titled him as the Christian King of Hungary.
He solidified Christianity in the area due to his close relationship to the Roman Catholic Church, the development of major churches, monasteries, and abbeys as well as leading by example by living the life of a model christian. He was famous for his generosity and being righteous to everyone as well as never turning away those in need of assistance or requesting alms. He was described by both his peers and subjects as “incorruptible”.
Shortly after Stephan's death in 1038, healing miracles were said to have occurred at his tomb and 45 years after his death Stephan was canonized by Pope Gregory VII as Saint Stephen of Hungary in 1083. Saint Stephen became the first canonized confessor king. Today he is venerated as the patron saint of Hungary, kings, children who are dying, masons, stonecutters, and bricklayers.
Designed by Lojos Beran the reverse design features a bust image Saint Stephan facing right. On the outer periphery (in Hungarian) are the words “· Szt · Istvn ·” or “St. Stephan” as well as the dual date of his birth and death years “969 - 1038”. Located underneath the bust design is the designer's name separated by dots “· BERAN · L ·”.
The obverse design features a modification of the Hungarian Coat of Arms (the crowned shield) with the addition of a sword, scepter, laurel and oak leaves. The design separates the date of issue with “19” on the left of the shield and “38” to the right. Located below the shield is the mint mark “BP.” for Budapest. On the upper outer periphery is the Hungarian phrase “MAGYAR KIRALYSAG” or “Hungarian Kingdom”. On the lower outer periphery is the denomination “5 PENGO”.
Both the obverse and reverse designs are encircled with a series of beads near the rim and the coin's edge features an ornamental design.
With a small mintage of only 600,000 coins one would expect these to be expensive but to the contrary they are affordable. Remarkably, many coins were saved in high grades and survived through World War II, a Russian occupation, and communist government allowing modern collectors to appreciate the coin design as well as the heritage it represents.