Monday, August 24, 2009

Poland Starts New Coin Series Dedicated To "History of Polish Light Music"

The National Bank of Poland has begun a new collector coin series in 2009 entitled "History of Polish Light Music". The first person to be honored in what is sure to be a series generating great interest amongst coin collectors and music memorabilia collectors alike, is legendary Polish rock performer Czeslaw Niemen. Niemen is widely regarded as one of the most important Polish singer-songwriters of the last quarter century, and this set of coins has been released on the 70th anniversary of his birth and 5 years after his passing.

Poland 2009 10ZL Czeslaw Niemen Square Silver Proof

Born in Belarus on February 13, 1939, Czeslaw Niemen made his debut on the music scene in the early 1960's singing Polish soul and rock numbers. His popularity grew quickly on account of his unusually wide vocal range and his talent for composing and keyboard playing. His birth name of Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki was discarded shortly after a successful run of concerts in France, when he took the pseudonym Niemen. He did this as a way of marking his birth country (Niemen is the Polish pronunciation of the Neman River, a major river rising in Belarus) as well as making his name easier to pronounce for foreigners.

Over the course of his career he released 20 studio albums and over two dozen singles and EP. While most of these were in Polish language Niemen did record 3 English language albums while working under the CBS record label. His 1967 song, "Dziwny jest ten świat" (Strange Is This World) is acknowledged as one of the most important Polish protest song of that era (an English language version was recorded in 1972). In 1964 Niemen and his band supported the touring Marlena Dietrich at Congress Hall in Warsaw, where Ms Dietrich was so taken with the Niemen song "Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz" (Do you still remember me?) that she decided to record his own version of the song - "Mutter, Hast du Mir Vergeben" (Mother, have you forgiven me?).

Czeslaw Niemen gained notoriety as being one of the first Polish singers to grow their hair long and wear colourful clothing, helping to influence communist Poland with the leanings of the psychedelic 60's. Of course, this angered officials but only brought Niemen greater popularity with citizens. In his later years he experimented with various styles of music including jazz-rock fusion and electronic. He composed soundtracks for films and the theatre and in the 1990's began painting and even dabbled with computer graphics.

To celebrate the life and songs of this extraordinary Polish citizen, the Mint of Poland has struck 3 separate coins; two 10 zloty silver proof issues and a 2 zloty nordic gold brilliant uncirculated release. Of the two silver proof coins one is struck in a unique square shape, with the other is the standard circular shape.

The reverse design on the square silver proof (shown at top) is taken from Niemen's 1976 concept album, "Katharsis", which he worked on completely alone, playing all the instruments himself. The obverse has a portrait of Czeslaw Niemen from the 1970's, at the height of his renown.

Poland 2009 10ZL Czeslaw Niemen Silver Proof

The standard 10 zloty silver proof carries the reverse image taken from the cover of Czesław Niemen's 1966 EP "Sen o Warszawie", along with inscriptions marking this coin as part of the History of Polish Light Music series. The obverse is inspired by his 1980 studio album, "Postscriptum", and also has the year of issue and nominal face value. The coin is encapsulated.

Poland 2009 2ZL Czeslaw Niemen BU

For the 2 zloty nordic gold issue the makers have chosen Czeslaw Niemen's 1971 album "Człowiek jam niewdzięczny - aka "Czerwony Album" ("Ungrateful Human I Am" aka "Red Album") as inspiration for the reverse design. The obverse carries the familiar layout for all 2 zloty commemorative coins - the Eagle motif, symbol of the Republic of Poland, above centre with the the face value and year of issue below. This coin is supplied in a protective plastic flip.

All three Czeslaw Niemen commemorative issues are currently available to order through Euro Collections International. Click on the product images above to be taken to the respective offers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kazakhstan Issues Latest In "Space" Commemorative Coin Program

The National Bank of Kazakhstan has released the latest in their popular and unique series of commemorative coins dedicated to the exploration of Space. This 2009 issue celebrates the 1975 joint venture between the United States and the former Soviet Union known as the Soyuz-Apollo test program. This is the 4th in the increasingly sought-after series of coins issued under the "Space" heading, which started in 2006 with the inaugural "Space" issue, following in 2007 with "First Space Satellite" and 2008 with "Vostok". Each of the coins is released in both a bi-metallic proof version and a cupro-nickel uncirculated edition.

Kazakhstan 2009 500 Tenge Soyuz-Apollo Bimetal Proof

The Soyuz-Apollo test program was the first joint venture between the Soviet Union and United States. It involved the US Apollo rocket (it was the last Apollo mission and the last US manned space flight prior to the Space Shuttle being introduced in 1981) and the Soviet's Soyuz spacecraft docking together in space. The mission was a complete success and saw the first international handshake in space, when Tom Stafford and Alexey Leonov, lead astronaut and cosmonaut upon their respective crafts met in the middle.

The 500 Tenge proof edition of this 2009 "Space" series issue features an outer ring made from 14.60 grams of 92.5% silver, with an inner disc made from 26.80 grams of tantalum; a rare blue-grey metal of the same refractory metals group as niobium, which it always found with. Tantalum is primarily used in various components such as capacitors, but due to it's inertness it is also used in laboratory equipment and as a substitute for platinum. The total weight of the coin is therefore 41.40 grams and measures 38.61mm.

The 50 Tenge brilliant uncirculated version of the coin is made from 11.17 grams of cupro-nickel, also known as German white silver, and measures 31.00mm with a corrugated edge.

The reverse design is taken from the official patch created for the program, and features an image of both the Soyuz and Apollo spacecrafts docked together in space. A portion of the Earth is shown in the upport part of the disc. At the top of the outer ring is a representation of the Soviet crew patch worn during the mission, while the inscription reads "Soyuz-Apollo" in both Kazakh (left) and English (right). The year of issue is at the bottom. The uncirculated version has the same design without an inner disc and outer ring.

The obverse design is common to all coins issued in the "Space" series. It features a composite image meant to represent mankind's unity with the universe. The nominal face value and coin specifications are to the right of the design, with the mintmark below. The inscription "Republic of Kazakhstan" is in both Kazakh (top) and English (bottom).

Kazakhstan 2009 50 Tenge Soyuz-Apollo UNC

The proof edition is presented in an official jewel case accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity confirming the issue of just 4000 coins worldwide, while the uncirculated version is supplied in a protective plastic flip.

Euro Collections International currently has stock available of the Kazakhstan 2009 500 Tenge Soyuz-Apollo Bimetal Proof and Kazakhstan 2009 50 Tenge Soyuz-Apollo UNC, as well as limited quantities of other issues from the "Space" series. See our Kazakhstan Commemorative coins listing for other releases available through our website.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Austrian Mint to issue final in "Austrian Railways" silver coin series

September 9, 2009 - The Austrian Mint has announced that for the final release in their silver coin series dedicated to Austrian Railways they will be bringing the series up to the present day, and also show a glimpse into the future of locomotive transportation, with their "Future Railways" commemorative issue.

Austria 2009 20€ Future Railways Silver Proof

This latest coin will see the Austrian Railways series come to a close, bringing an end to one of the most popular silver commemorative series' the Austrian Mint has produced. Starting in 2007, the series has showcased a different aspect of Austrian rail transport on each of it's previous 5 issues. Detailing the likes of the Southern and Northern Railways, the Empress Elisabeth Railway, Belle Epoque and most recently the Electric Railways started by Emperor Franz Joseph, the coins in the Austrian Railways series have attracted the interest of collectors the world over. With such detailed designs and stunning strikes, such as we have come to expect from the Austrian Mint, it's really no surprise that each of these coins have been eagerly snapped up by collectors both young and old.

For their final in the series, the Austrian Mint have continued their high level of precion craftsmanship by bringing the series to it's logical conclusion; that of the present day Austrian Railways, with a glance at what the future has in store.

Utilising the expert skills of chief engraver Thomas Pesendorfer, the obverse design of this coin features an image of freight railway yards, with a shunting engine in the foreground and tanks and containers behind. The design symbolises the move for more goods transport to be handled by the railways instead of by trucks on the roads, already over-burdened by growing automobile congestion.

The obverse has been designed by Helmut Andexlinger and shows the design of the new "Railjet" locomotive. This high speed luxury train went into service in December 2008, running between Budapest, Vienna and Munich. Together with a faster travel time, the Railjet offers passengers increased comfort and service, with the latest technical improvements including electronic passenger information systems. It is the plan that by 2014 there will be 67 of these high speed luxury trains in regular service.

In keeping with the rest of the coins in the series, each 20 euro silver commemorative Future Railways coin has been struck to the highest proof standards from 18 grams of 90% fine silver on a 34mm flan. The coins are encapsulated and presented in an official Austrian Mint product box accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity confirming the mintage of 50,000 issues released to the worldwide market.

As official distributor to the Austrian Mint, Euro Collections International has the Austria 2009 20€ Future Railways Silver Proof available to order now. All previous coins in the Austrian Railways Silver Coin Series are currently available to order as well from our website, as well as a special Austrian Railways Series Collection Case that holds all 6 coins in the series in a beautifully crafted wooden box.

Other coins available in the Austrian Railways Series: