Thursday, November 26, 2009

Belarus Release Latest In Fairy Tales Series Of "Antiqued" Silver Coins

September, 2009: Struck at the Poland Mint (Mennica Polska) and released through the National Bank of Belarus is the latest in the superb series of silver coins dedicated to famous fairy tales from around the world. This coin, the first and perhaps only to be released in 2009, is the 10th coin in the series and pays tribute to the story of The Nutcracker.

Belarus 2009 20R Nutcracker Fairy Tale Silver UNC

Written in 1816 by Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (Better known as his pen name E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann)) and originally entitled "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", this classic fairy tale from Germany tells the story of Marie, a twelve year old girl who is given a Nutcracker doll on Christmas. In the night the Nutcracker doll comes to life and does battle with the evil Mouse King. Little does Marie know that the Nutcracker doll is in fact a handsome young man who was cursed. Her godfather, Drosselmeyer, tells her the story of the Mouse Queen, who set a curse upon the King's daughter after the king arranged for mouse traps to be made which killed her children. It took many years to find a cure for the curse but eventually they did, with the help of Drosselmeyer's nephew, who broke the curse on the Princess but accidentally had it fall upon him, turning him into a Nutcracker doll.

Later, the Nutcracker asks Marie for a sword with which he defeats the Mouse King and takes Marie off to a magical doll land. Eventhough her parents don't believe her, she pledges her love to the Nutcracker doll and the curse is broken, with Drosselmeyer's nephew appearing as a handsome young man once again.

Famously, beautiful fable was turned into a ballet by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, in 1892. It has become one of Tchaikovsky's most famous compositions, and one of the most popular ballets in the world.

The reverse design shows imagery from the story of The Nutcracker, with the doll itself charging towards the mouse army with sword raised. Seem below in mirroed form is the handsome young nephew. Marie is to the right in front of a stylised Christmas tree with her eyes closed. Set within the hat of the Nutcracker is a glittering green zircon crystal. The inscription for "Nutcracker" is in the bottom left. The obverse, common to all coins in the Fairy Tales series, shows a young boy and girl sitting upon a crescent moon and reading from an open book. Around them is the night sky filled with stars. Around the top of the coin is the inscription for "Republic of Belarus" with the State Emblem in the middle. Below is the inscription for "Twenty Roubles" and the year of issue, 2009.

The coin is struck from 26.15 grams of 92.5% silver (total weight 28.28 grams) on a 38.61mm flan. To give the coin an "antiqued" appearance a special technique of oxidizing has been employed and the coin is supplied in a capsule for protection. Only 25,000 of these coins have been struck for worldwide distribution.

Also available in the Belarus Fairy Tale Series:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Royal Spanish Mint Issue Latest Coins In "Jewels of Numismatics" Series

The Royal Spanish Mint has released coins in the second series of their "Jewels of Numismatics" program. The coins featured in this series are dedicated to the 400 year old 50 Reales silver, also known as a "Cincuentin" and the 100 Escudos gold coin known as a "Centen". There are 3 coins issued in the series, a 50 euro silver proof honoring the Cincuentin, together with a 100 euro gold-plated silver proof and 20 euro gold proof honoring the Centen.

Spain 2009 50€ Cincuentin Silver Proof

2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the first minting of these historic Spanish coins. Known predominately as the Cincuentín and Centén respectively, the 50 Reales silver and 100 Escudos gold coins are among the most impressive and sought-after in Spanish history. The original coins fetch extremely high prices at auction, with an original 100 gold Escudos recently reaching €800,000 at a Barcelona auction, although it was expected to reach somewhere in the vicinity of €2 million. The original coins were minted at the Real Ingenio de Segovia (Segovia Mint), located in central Spain some 90km north-west of Madrid and founded by King Philip II in 1583. Using new minting machines acquired from his cousin Ferdinand II, Archduke of Further Austria, the mint was able to produce circular coins, with almost perfect edges, very unlike the irregular-edged coins that result from the traditional hammer-striking process of the time. Also typical of the time was the habit of having pieces off gold and silver coins, however with the reeding around the edges of these coins prohibiting that from being done without notice, the coins were accepted at face value without the need to be weighed.

The Cincuentín was the name popularly given to silver coins with a face value of 50 reales, weighing approximately 175 grams and measuring about 76 millimetres in diameter, that were struck in the Real Ingenio during the reigns of the monarchs of the House of Austria, namely Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II. On the obverse was the legend with the name of the monarch, followed by the initials "D.G." (Dei Gratia) surrounding the crowned shield and displaying the coats-of-arms of Castile, Leon, Granada, Aragon, Naples and Sicily, Austria, ancient and modern Burgundy, the Brabant, Portugal, Flanders and the Tyrol. These were flanked by the marks of the assayer and of the mint, the Roman aqueduct at Segovia, and the value "50" in Arabic numbers. The reverse portrayed the arms of Castile and Leon surrounded by the Latin text "Hispaniarum rex" and the year of minting.

Spain 2009 100€ Centen Gold-Plated Silver Proof

The Centén was minted during the period of the last monarchs of the House of Austria, namely Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II. It had a face value of 100 escudos, a diameter something in excess of 70 millimetres, and the established theoretical weight was 359.19 grams. It was utilized as a gift for high-ranking members of the European nobility. The pieces minted were therefore scant, and sometimes amounted to only a single piece per minting session. The original coin weighs 335.5 grams and on the obverse depicts the crowned shield with the coats-of-arms of the Spanish territories, the mint marks, represented by an aqueduct, and the assayer’s mark with the entwined initials AR belonging to Andrés de Pedrera, and the face value 100. The reverse shows the Cross Potent of Jerusalem, an honorary entitlement held by the monarchs of Spain since the time of the Emperor Charles V, and proper to the gold coin.

These two modern issues feature on their reverse full designs taken from the original Spanish coinage. On the obverse are smaller reproductions of the original obverse surrounded with modern elements such as face value, country and year of issue and the logo for the Royal Spanish Mint. The 50 euro silver coin is struck from a massive 168.75 grams of 92.5% sterling silver on a huge 73mm flan, while the 100 euro gold-plated silver proof is struck from 168.88 grams of 92.5% sterling silver on a 73mm flan and coated in fine gold plate. Only 6000 silver and 3000 gold-plated coins have been released to the worldwide market. The coins are both presented in official mint cases with Certificates of Authenticity.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Germany 1972 10 Deutschmark Silver Coins Issued For The Munich Olympic Games

In 1972 the German mints produced a voluminous series of silver coins to celebrate the games of the 20th Olympiad, held in Munich that same year. Six differently themed coins were produced, in both silver proof and silver uncirculated quality, from 4 of the 5 German Mints (Berlin did not participate), possibly creating, at an extraordinary 48 individual releases, the largest single-focused coin series ever.

The six themes covered were "In Deutschland", "Schleife", "Athletes", "Stadium", "In Munchen" & "Flame". Each theme was offered as a proof quality coin, struck from 15.50 grams of 62.5% silver on a 33mm flan, as well as an uncirculated version with the same specifications.

Germany 1972 10DM Olympics In Deutschland Silver Coin

In Deutschland - The reverse features the spiral symbol used as the logo for the 1972 Olympic Games. Around the rim of the coin is the inscription (in German) "Games of the XX Olympiad 1972 - In Deutschland". The obverse features the Eagle, Emblem for the Federal Republic of Germany, designed using the same style features as the reverse image.

Germany 1972 10DM Olympic Schleife Silver Coin

Schleife - Honoring the municipality of Schleife in northeast Saxony. The word "Schleife" literally means "knot" and a stylised knot of cloth is features on the Reverse of the coin, with the common obverse design of the Eagle styled after it.

Germany 1972 10DM Olympic Athletes Silver Coin

Athletes - The athletes coin design features two kneeling sports people. The male figure is holding a ball or shot-put on his shoulder, while the female beside him is carrying a baton used in relay racing. Again, the obverse, with denomination and country of issue, shows the Federal Republic of Germany Eagle emblem stylised to complement the reverse design.

Germany 1972 10DM Olympic Stadium Silver Coin

Stadium - Paying tribute to the main Olympic Stadium located in Munich's north, as part of Olympiapark Munchen, the reverse design features an aerial view of the outlay of the Olympic stadium grounds, with the main arena off to the left. The obverse Eagle motif is quite a departure from previous designs in the Olympic series.

Germany 1972 10DM Olympics In Munchen Silver Coin

In Munchen - The "In Munchen" coin was released after a backlash created after the initial "In Deutschmark" silver coin was first issued. The complain came from East Germany (DDR, GDR, German Democratic Republic) and as a result this new release was offered featuring the more specific "In Munchen" inscription together with the German Olympic logo.

Germany 1972 10DM Olympic Flame Silver Coin

Flame - The Olympic flame is an important part of the Olympic Games ceremony and it symbolises the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus. The tradition of having the flame burn for the duration of the games started in Ancient Greece but was discarded until the 1928 games in Amsterdam. It has been used in every games since. The reverse design of this final coin in the 1972 Olympic series features a stylised version of the Olympic flame, with the Olympic rings logo beneath and the German Olympic spiral logo above.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Korean Mint Issues 3rd And Final "Traditional Folk Games" Silver Coin

October 16, 2009: The Korean Mint has concluded its 3 coin silver proof series dedicated to traditional folk games with this stunning 99.9% precious metal release honoring the tug-of-war game known as Yeongsan Juldarigi (Tug-of-war of Yeongsan). This final coin comes after the 2007 Mask Dance and the 2008 Ganggangsullae (Circle Dance) silver issues.

Korea 2009 20000KRW Tug Of War Of Yeongsan Silver Proof

Yeongsan Juldarigi is given its name on account of the game being performed mainly in the agricultural village of Yeongsan in the South Gyeongsang Province of the Korean Peninsula. The tug-of-war game is listed as one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties, aspects of intangible culture that the government of South Korea has officially designated for preservation. It is played with members of the village as a way of praying for a plentiful harvest. It is regarded as a farming ceremony originally held on the 15th of the New Year according to the lunar calendar. These days, however, it is held as one of events marking the March 1 Independence Movement.

Yeongsan Juldarigi is played by dividing the village into East and West. The two sides represent man and woman respectively, although the game itself does not pit one gender against the other. Tradition has it that if the West (women) win the tug-of-war then a bountiful harvest will be had that year. The rope is quite large and too thick to pull, so side ropes are attached so that many people can help pull from either side. To stop the rope being cut it is underpinned by a large tree stump called a Binaemok. The leader then rides on the rope and commands order, at which time the tug-of-war begins and local farm music bands add to the fun with upbeat music. You can see video footage of the tug-of-war here (Requires Quicktime)
Featured on the obverse of this coin is the image of people performing the tug-of-war game, with the underpinned Bi-nyeo-mok in the foreground. The leader can be seen standing on the rope commanding his people to pull. On the reverse is a scene from the village involving townspeople carrying the rope in the background, while in front is a music band beating on drums before the beginning of the game. This side also carries the face value of 20,000 Korean Won (KRW), as well as the year of issue.

The coin is presented in an official case.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spanish Royal Mint Releases 2010 Coin Issue Schedule

The Spanish Royal Mint have released their coin products program for 2010, with much to get excited about.

January: Starting off the year are coins to celebrating the Spanish Presidency of the European Union. Every six months a new country is selected to take on the role of EU president, with Spain receiving this honor from January to June, 2010. It will be the country's 4th term as president since it joined the EU in 1986. There will be a 10 euro silver proof commemorative coin issued in January, with a 12 euro silver proof following in February.

Also released in January will be Spain's 2 euro commemorative coin, paying tribute to the Mezquita, the Roman Catholic cathedral originally built as a Mosque in the Andalusian city of Córdoba. January also sees the first of the Spanish coin sets being released, with the standard mint set or Brilliant Uncirculated coinage appearing sometime during the month.

February: Apart from the second Spanish EU presidency coin February sees the next release in the popular Architecture series, this time dedicated to the famous Sagrada Família Temple (Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família) and the renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), for which the temple is considered his master-work.

March: The highly prized and sought-after Spanish proof set of coins will be released this month, featuring all 8 circulating euro in the highest quality available by the mint. It is believed that a proof version of the 2 euro Mezquita commemorative coin will also be included in the set.

March will also see a 10 euro silver proof coin issued to celebrate Xacobeo 2010. Año Santo Jacobeo (or in galician language Ano Santo Xacobeo) is the holy year of St. James. It takes place in the year when the 25th of July (day of St. James) is a Sunday. Xacobeo 2010 is born out of a vocation to celebrate the spiritual and
cultural essence of the Camino de Santiago, serving as an international
showcase for knowledge and the arts.

April: This month sees a 10 euro silver proof and a 100 euro gold proof issued to celebrate the approaching FIFA World Cup held in South Africa between 11 June and 11 July, sure to be the biggest sporting event of the year.

May: Continuing the series of brilliant uncirculated coin sets dedicated to various Spanish regions and cities comes two new releases in May. With each set containing the 8 circulating euro currency of Spain together with the 2010 2 euro commemorative, the sets this year are in honor of the central region of La Mancha and the northwest city of León. La Mancha was made famous by Miguel de Cervantes in his book Don Quixote de La Mancha, while Leon has the famed Gothic cathedral Santa María de León.

Also in may there will be the release of a set of coins honoring well-known Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco de Goya. Goya was born in Fuendetodos, Aragón, Spain, in 1746 and is probably best remembered for his 1793–1794 series of 11 small darkly fantastical paintings, although in his life he painted all manner of subjects. The coins honoring the life and work of Goya will be available in 10 euro silver proof, 50 euro silver proof and 200 euro gold proof.

September: After a gap of a few months the mint will release another set of 3 coins in either silver or gold, this time dedicated to "Ancient Visigothic and Carthaginian coins". It's too early to know what designs will be featured on these coins but they will be available as a 10 euro silver proof, 100 euro gold proof and 25 euro gold proof issues.

October: The final releases from Spain in 2010 will be a series of "Historical" coins issued in varying denominations. The coins, struck in silver proof quality, will be dedicated to a number of different countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Portugal, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay and Guatemala, where the Spanish dialect and culture flourish. The coins will be issued in the denominations of each respective country, with the Argentinian and Cuban coins released as Pesos, the Nicaraguan coin as Cordobas, Portugal as euro, etc.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Austrian Mint Issues New Gold Coin For "Crowns Of The House Of Habsburgs" Series

November 4, 2009: The Austrian Mint has released the second coin in their series honoring the "Crowns of the House of Habsburgs". This 2009 release, struck to stunning proof quality, is dedicated to the Archducal Crown of Austria.

Austria 2009 100€ Archducal Crown of Austria Gold Proof

Starting in 2008 with the Holy Roman Empire Crown gold proof coin the "Crowns of the House of Habsburgs" is a five coin series that will see one coin released in November each year, with the final coin issued in 2012. All the coins will be struck to the same exacting standards of proof quality, from 16 grams of 98.6% gold on a 30.00mm flan, and featuring the intricately detailed designs the Austrian Mint are famous for.

The following information on the Archducal Crown of Austria is taken from the Austrian Mint press release.

Rudolf IV invented the title of archduke in the spurious document of 1358/59 called the privilegium maius. It was an attempt to assert the status of the House of Habsburg as the equal of any Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. There exists a mediaeval portrait of Rudolf wearing a crown similar to the Archduke’s Hat. Early versions of the crown have not survived, as they were either broken up or melted down. In 1616, however, Archduke Maximilian III of Tyrol had the present Archduke’s Hat fashioned and he gave it to the Augustinian Abbey of Klosterneuburg just outside Vienna in honor of St. Leopold, whose the tomb and shrine are still situated there to this day.

The Archduke’s Crown was not worn as such. There was no coronation. It was rather a symbol of authority and rank. It was brought into Vienna only for the ceremony of homage paid by the Estates of Lower Austria on the accession of a new Habsburg ruler. The Archduke’s crown was brought in procession into Vienna, conveyed in its own sedan chair along with other pieces of regalia such as orb and sceptre. The Archduke’s crown was then presented to the new ruler and then carried in procession from the palace to St. Stephen’s Cathedral for High Mass. The crown has always been very carefully looked after and secured. Even today the crown is not permitted to be outside the walls of Klosterneuburg Abbey for more than 30 days at a time.

The obverse depicts the crown itself resting on the cushion of the federal lower states of Austria. The elaborately embroidered cushion was used for the procession of the crown in the palace, through the streets of Vienna and into to the cathedral. The Archduke’s Hat is a diadem of eight golden peaks (three of which can be seen on the coin) decorated with enamel, pearls and precious stones. Two pearl encrusted arches hold a sapphire mounted by a cross at their intersection. In the crown itself is a red velvet cap and the diadem is surrounded with a circle of ermine. Around the top inside edge of this coin is the country of issue, “Republk Oesterreich” (Republic of Austria.) The face value, 100 euros, and the year of issue, 2009, are located on the left side of the obverse. Along the inside of the lower rim of the coin are the words “Oesterreichischer Erzherzogshut”, Austrian Archduke’s Hat.

The reverse of the coin depicts the solemn ceremonial procession. Three high-ranking officials of the Lower Austrian Estates carry the crown, the orb and the sceptre, in that order, along the centrally located street called the Graben, from the palace to the cathedral. The officials are wearing court finery, including the tall wigs known as periwigs from about the early 1700’s. Soldiers wearing tricorner uniform hats line the streets while a serious drumbeat is sounded as accompaniment. In the upper right side of the reverse the intricate Baroque monument in memory the ravishes of the plaque can be seen. This memorial column was erected in 1692 and can still be viewed today in the same location along the Graben. In the left upper quadrant of the coin are the fine homes, usually with shops on the ground level, typical of this time, many of which remain today.
The new 100 Euro gold coin designed by Mint engraver Helmut Andexlinger is struck in proof quality (reverse frosting) with a maximum mintage of 30,000 pieces. Each coin is encapsulated and comes in a box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. A unique lapel pin plated with gold and bearing a miniature version of the Archducal Crown also accompanies the gold coin.

Also available is the first coin in this series, dedicated to the Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as the official Crowns Of The House of Habsburgs Collection Case