Saturday, May 2, 2009

Belarus Launch New Silver Coin Series for 2009 Entitled "Signs of the Zodiac"

March 2009 sees the start of a new series of silver coins issued by the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, with the theme of Zodiac signs. Issued under the "Belarus and the World Community" category, the collector coin series appropriately titled "Signs of the Zodiac" will see a plan of 12 coins issued throughout the year, each one focused on a different sign of the Zodiac taken from European astrology. The series is also divided into two different types, with a silver uncirculated issue featuring two zircon crystals embedded in each coin, as well as a smaller copper-nickel issue with no crystals. The first of these intriguing coins to be released features the star sign Pisces.

Belarus 2009 20Ru Pisces Silver UNC

Pisces (February 20-March 20) is a water sign most commonly signified by the two fish swimming head to tail, giving a yin-yang appearance of continuation and movement. Despite it being the first coin in this particular silver coin series Pisces is actually the twelfth sign in the astrological chart. Those born under the sign are thought to be imaginative, compassionate, intuitive and often artistic. Negative traits are said to include idealism, secrecy, vagueness and weak-will. Based on Qualities and Elements in the Zodiac, Pisceans are said to be generally compatible with those born under the signs of Scorpio and Cancer.

Each of the Belarus 2009 zodiac coins were designed by renowned Belorussian artist Svetlana Zaskievich, and show her impressive and unique style of each sun sign. There is a sense of innocence about the images that will no doubt appeal to a wide range of world coin collectors, as well as non-collectors wanting a keepsake for a child or relative. The silver coins issued in uncirculated condition each have two zircon crystals embedded on the reverse. The addition on crystals is a regular feature of collector silver coins from Belarus and makes for an appealing addition to the coin's already captivating designs.

On the reverse of this Pisces issue is the familiar image of the two fish swimming head to tail. The fish themselves have been beautifully designed to resemble the paisley designs of the 1960's and are incredibly detailed in a stylised fashion. In the place of the visible eyes of the fish are the zircon crystals, here presented in blue. Each of the zodiac coins will have different coloured zircons embedded in them. Around the central image is a pattern featuring alternating images of starfish and sea shells.

The obverse, also designed by Ms Zaskievich, is similar to all the coins in the series barring a couple of individualities pertaining to each respective zodiac symbol being honored. In the centre of the coin is the image of the sun and crescent moon facing one another with a sea of stars between them. Beneath this image is the astrological symbol and the name of the zodiac icon in both English and Belarus - in this case Pisces. Framing this central piece is a ring containing all 12 astrological symbols of the zodiac, each separated by a star. In the outer portion of the coin, around the top, is the inscription "РЭСПУБЛIКА БЕЛАРУСЬ" (REPUBLIC OF BELARUS), with the Belarus coat of arms at centre top. In the lower part of the obverse is the year of issue to the left, the precious metal type (Ag), purity (925) and mintmark of the Mint of Poland to the right. The nominal face value of 20 Belorussian Roubles is at the very bottom.

Each coin is struck from 28.28 grams of 92.5% silver on a 38.61mm flan, which gives perfect clarity to the intricate designs featured thereon. The coins have been specially oxidised, darkening the metal and giving them a somewhat antique finish which also enhances the designs. This is standard for all the silver uncirculated coins in the Zodiac series, as is the mintage of 25,000 coins worldwide. A certificate of authenticity from Mennica Polska (Mint of Poland) who struck the coins, is provided.

As of posting this article there have been six coins released in this series; Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo. Euro Collection International is currently offering the Belarus 2009 20Ru Pisces Silver BU, Belarus 2009 20Ru Taurus Silver BU, Belarus 2009 20Ru Aries Silver BU, Belarus 2009 20Ru Gemini Silver BU, Belarus 2009 20Ru Cancer Silver BU and Belarus 2009 20Ru Leo Silver BU with further issues to be offered shortly.

Beyond the coins already released at the time of this blog posting, the issue schedule for the remaining coins in this series is as follows:

- Virgo, end of July/August
- Libra, end of September
- Scorpio, end of October
- Sagittarius, end of November
- Capricorn, end December
- Aquarius, end of January 2010

As is the case with all issue schedules this one is subject to change without notice. For notifications of new coins in this series and all new arrivals to ECI please follow us on Twitter. Alternatively you can join our mailing list and get word each week of the most recent additions to the ECI catalog - or simply visit our What's New page regularly.

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