Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Silver Coin Released In "How Man Conquered The Skies" Proof Series

The Mint of Poland (Mennica Polska) has just released the second silver coin in the captivating series known as "How Man Conquered The Skies". Coming after the innaugural release, which was dedicated to the Ancient Greek tragedy of Icarus, this latest issue pays tribute to those innovative French engineers of flight, the Montgolfier Brothers, and the first manned, untethered balloon voyage.

Niue 2010 $1 Balloon Silver Proof

The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology and it was on Nov 21, 1783, in Paris, France, that the first untethered manned flight was made by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes. The balloon they rode that day was created by Joseph-Michel Montgolfier and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier. For their acheivement their father Pierre was elevated to the nobility and the hereditary appellation of de Montgolfier by King Louis XVI of France.

From Wikipedia:

Unmanned hot air balloons are popular in Chinese history. Zhuge Liang of the Shu Han kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms era (220–80 AD) used airborne lanterns for military signaling. These lanterns are known as Kongming lanterns. There is also some speculation, from a demonstration led by British modern hot air balloonist Julian Nott in the late 1970s and again in 2003, that hot air balloons could have been used by people of the Nazca culture of Peru some 1500 to 2000 years ago, as a tool for designing the famous Nazca ground figures and lines. The first documented balloon flight in Europe was demonstrated by Bartolomeu de Gusmão. On August 8, 1709, in Lisbon, he managed to lift a balloon full of hot air about 4.5 meters in front of King John V and the Portuguese court.

The first clearly recorded instance of a balloon carrying passengers used hot air to generate buoyancy and was built by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier in Annonay, France. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first tethered balloon flight with humans on board took place on October 15, 1783. It is fitting that Etienne Montgolfier was the first human to lift off the earth, making at least one tethered flight from the yard of the Reveillon workshop in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. It was most likely on October 15, 1783. A little while later on that same day, Pilatre de Rozier became the second to ascend into the air, to an altitude of 80 feet, which was the length of the tether. The first free flight with human passengers took place on November 21, 1783. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier, along with Marquis François d'Arlandes, successfully petitioned for the honor. The first military use of a hot air balloon happened during the battle of Fleurus where the French used the balloon l'Entreprenant as an observation post.

Featured on the reverse of this unique, rectangular-shapped silver coin, is a depiction of the first ever manned, untethered flight in a hot air balloon, over the fields of Paris. In the foreground are the portraits of the Montgolfier Brothers, with their name inscribed between them. The obverse carries the common design for the "How Man Conquered The Skies" silver coin series; a collection of various modes of flight together with the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. Inscribed on this side is the name of the series, the country and year of issue and coin denomination. Each coin is struck from 28.28 grams of 92.5% sterling silver on a rectangular, 28mm x 40mm flan to the Mint of Poland strict Proof quality standards.

Each coin is accompanied by an official Certificate of Authenticity confirming the exclusive world-wide mintage of just 6000 silver coins struck.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Mint of Poland Release New "Oddities of Nature" Silver Coin Depicting Venus Flytrap

Mennica Polska (The Mint of Poland) have recently issued a second silver coin as part of their "Oddities of Nature" proof coin series. This latest issue pays tribute to the carnivorous Venus Flytrap.

Niue 2010 $1 Oddities Of Nature Venus Flytrap Silver Proof

This is the second coin released in the already popular "Oddities of Nature" silver coin series, coming after the release earlier in the year of the 2010 $1 Oddities Of Nature Pronghorn Silver Proof. This latest release, struck to the same 40mm x 40mm dimensions from 28 grams of 92.5% sterling silver as the Pronghorn coin, is dedicated to the curious Venus Flytrap. One of only a handful of carnivorous plants on Earth, the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) usually feeds on insects and spiders, but has been known to devour small frogs who make the mistake of venturing through the Flytrap's open jaws. The Venus Flytrap has a trapping structure that is formed by each of the plant's jaw-like leaves, and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. If an insect or spider crawling along the leaves makes contact with two of the hairs within a 20 second period the trap will close. The reason for this "two hair" method is to safeguard against a waste of energy in trapping objects with no nutritional value. The plant's common name refers to Venus, the Roman goddess of love, whereas the genus name refers to Dione. Dionaea is a monotypic genus closely related to the waterwheel plant and sundews.

Featured on the reverse of this square silver coin is the Venus Flytrap, with several of it's jaws shown open and waiting for food. Enhancing the design is the inclusion of selective colouring for one of the leaves, while the botanical name, Dionaea muscipula, is inscribed at the bottom. On the obverse is the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. Framing this central image are various types of foliage as well as the country and year of issue, and coin denomination.

"Out Of This World" HAH 280 Meteorite Antiqued Silver Coin Released

Issued by Coin Invest Trust, who has brought us such innovative and highly sought-after collector coins as the Tiffany Art Glass 2oz Silver Coin Series, the 2010 $5 Barack Obama & Martin Luther King Silver Coin Pair and 2009 $1 Lucky Star Gold Coin, this uniquely eye-catching antiqued silver coin has been struck in honour of the HAH 280 Meteorite - thought to be one of the sources of life on Earth.

Cook Islands 2010 $5 HAH 280 Meteorite Antique Silver Coin

Discovered by a meteorite hunter in 2000 in Jabal al Gharb in the Hammadah al Hamra region in Libya, Hammadah al Hamra 280 (HAH 280 - the 280 stands for the number of catalogued meteorites found in this area) is a carbonaceous chondrite and is classified in the very rare CK4 group. Meteorites in the CK group are named for Karoonda, a meteorite that fell in Australia in 1930. There are only about 20 different CK members known to have fallen to earth, in places such as Africa and Antarctica. Up to 220 amino acids (the basis on which proteins are formed) exist in these amazing minerals and it is from this that the key to life on this earth is believed to originate.

Adding value to this already superb release is the inclusion of an actual original fragment taken from the HAH 280 meteorite, embedded in the reverse side of the coin! The coin celebrates the 10th anniversary of this historic find, and while it is unknown exactly when it fell to Earth, dating suggests that the HAH 280 meteorite is around 700 million years older than our already 4.5 billion year old solar system. Forming a truly unique collector item, there is only known to be 30 kilograms of HAH 280 meteorite in existence, making this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Featured on the reverse is a design depicting a primordial solar nebula, a stunning phenomenon similar to that of where the HAH 280 Meteorite is believed to have originated. Enhanced with dazzling, electric colours, this central design is framed by a silver struck depiction of meteorites in space and the meteorite fragment embedded in the top left. Around the rim of the coin is inscribed "THE HAH 280 METEORITE" at top, and "CHALLENGE OF TIME - 2010 MINUS 5,200,000,000 YEARS" AT BOTTOM. The obverse carries the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with country of issue and face value inscribed around the rim.

Each 2010 $5 HAH 280 Meteorite Antique Silver Coin has been issued by the authority of the Cook Islands and consists of 25 grams of 92.5% sterling silver across a 38.61mm flan. Only 2,500 of these coins, struck in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, have been released world-wide, and following on from swift mint sell-outs of both the 2009 $5 Mars Copper Plated Antiqued Silver Coin and 2009 $5 Fly Me To The Moon Silver Coin, it was no surprise that this coin also sold out at Coin Invest Trust at rapid speed.

The 2010 $5 HAH 280 Meteorite Antique Silver Coin is encapsulated and presented in a beautifully designed tin.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Austrian Mint Set To Issue Third Gold Coin In "Crowns Of The Habsburg Empire" Series

November 10, 2010: The Austrian Mint are set to release the third coin in their impressive five-coin series of Gold Proof issues dedicated to the Crowns of the Habsburg Empire. The series, started in 2008 and concluding in 2012, has already seen coins issued for Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, and Archducal Crown of Austria. This year sees the famous St Stephen's Crown of the Kingdom of Hungary immortalised in the world's favorite precious metal.

Austria 2010 50€ The Crown Of St Stephen Gold Proof

Stephen (969/975 – 1038) was the first Christian King of Hungary. He was responsible for converting the kingdom to Christianity, sometimes even through force. Around the year 1000 his ambassadors approached Pope Sylvester II in Rome for the papal blessing and a crown for Stephen’s pending coronation on January 1, 1001. The pope acquiesced, sending Stephen a crown and the title of “apostolic majesty” since his kingship had been confirmed by the Apostolic See.

It is fairly certain that nothing remains of this original papal crown. The present well-known crown has been put together from two parts. The lower circular crown (the “Greek crown”) was a gift from the Byzantine emperor, Michael Ducas VII (1071-1078), to King Geza I of Hungary (1074-1077). Both monarchs are depicted in the enamel panels that decorate the coronet. The so-called “Latin crown” is formed by the two intersecting arches of the present crown. They too are decorated with enamel panels depicting Christ and the apostles. The fact that four of the twelve apostles are missing is a clear indication that the arches were shortened to fit the crown. They may have been part of a book of the gospels given to St. Stephen, perhaps by the western emperor, Otto III.

For Hungary the crown is a mystical relic, a source of legitimacy. Possession of the crown confers an aura of legality on the government. The king could not be crowned with any other crown. (In 1741 Maria Theresa was crowned with St. Stephen’s crown as “King” despite her sex.) During the revolution of 1848/49 the crown was buried to prevent it falling into the hands of the Austrian emperor. It was later recovered and Franz Joseph was crowned with it in 1867 in Budapest. The last Hungarian coronation was that of the Emperor Karl in December 1916.

At the end of World War II the Hungarian crown was carefully carried westward and hidden in Austria to prevent it falling into the hands of the communists. For sometime thereafter it was held in Wiesbaden Germany, in the American sector and later transferred to the vaults of Fort Knox. It was not taken as a spoil of war but rather for safekeeping. America always intended to return the crown to Hungary. President Jimmy Carter decided to return it to the people of Hungary in 1978. Today it is displayed in state in the parliament building in Budapest, with its own guard of honour.

The reverse shows Empress Maria Theresa on horseback following her coronation as “King” in 1741 in Bratislava. The king (or in this case the Empress) was required to ride up the Royal Hill in full coronation regalia and at the top swing the sword to all four points of the compass, pledging to defend the borders of the Kingdom of St. Stephen. In the background is the castle of Bratislava located on the banks of the Danube River.

The new gold coin with a face value of 100 Euro portrays the Holy Crown of St. Stephen on the obverse side. The crown detail displays some of the nineteen enamelled panels, which decorate the crown along with some semi precious stones and pearls. Also noted in the left half of the coin design are the four pendants that hang from the crown. The coin depicts the crown resting on a piece of silk fabric draped over an ornate stand. Also located on this side of the coin is the country of issue “Republik Oesterreich” Republic of Austria, and the face value of 100 euros. Inside the lower right portion of the rim is the word “Stephanskrone”, St. Stephan’s crown.

The new 100 Euro gold coin designed by the Mint’s chief engraver Thomas Pesendorfer is struck in proof quality (reverse frosting) with a maximum mintage of 30,000 pieces. The coin has a diameter of 30 mm., contains 16 grams of gold and is .986 fine. 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 Crown of St. Stephen’s also accompanies the gold coin.

The Crowns Of The Habsburg Empire Collection Case is also available separately.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Innovative Silver Coins Celebrate 2011 Chinese Lunar Year of the Rabbit

Struck at The Mint of Finland and released by the authority of the Fijian government as legal tender, these eye-catching silver coins have been struck in uniquely innovative ways to celebrate 2011 as the Chinese Lunar Year of the Rabbit. They are part of a series of coins issued for the Chinese Zodiac, which started in 2010 with the Year of the Tiger coins.

Fiji 2011 $1 Filigree Lunar Rabbit Silver Proof

Due for release in late November 2010 is the world's first Silver Coin created using the fine jewellers art known as filigree. Entitled "Cabbage Garden Rabbit", the crown-sized coin is struck from 20.5 grams of 99.9% fine silver. It features at its centre a stylised Rabbit design created with the filigree technique using twisted threads of silver. This technique, used in a wide variety of cultures since Ancient times to create objects of beauty, gives a lacey appearance to the Rabbit motif. Framing the central design on the reverse are cabbage leaves and the inscription for the Year of the Rabbit, while on the obverse is the effigy of Queen Elizabeth, the country and year of issue and the nominal face value.
The Cabbage Garden Rabbit coin was designed by Hannu Veijalainen of The Mint of Finland and has been struck to the highest quality Proof standards. Each Fiji 2011 $1 Filigree Lunar Rabbit Silver Proof is presented in an official jewel case with Certificate of Authenticity confirming the exclusive worldwide mintage of just 6000 silver coins!

Released at the same time as the Cabbage Garden Rabbit above is another highly innovative silver coin issue to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Incorporating a well-known aspect of Taoism, a part of Chinese Philosophy, The Mint of Finland have produced this eye-catching "Yin and Yang" silver coin enhanced with colour.

Fiji 2011 $1 Yin & Yang Lunar Rabbit Silver Proof Pair

Taking the fundamentals of Yin and Yang; how seemingly polar or contrary forces are interconnected in the natural world, this beautiful pair of coins celebrate the opposing Summer and Winter seasons of the Year of the Rabbit. Each coin is struck from 1 ounce (31.10 grams) of 99.9% fine silver measuring 29.11mm x 46.73mm and each shaped into half of the Yin and Yang symbol, so that when placed together the pair of coins make a circle resembling one single coin.

On the reverse of the Summer coin is a full-colour image of a Rabbit in warm tones, leaping through a field with a backdrop of flowers. The Winter Rabbit can be seen running through the snow, a variety of different-shaped snowflakes behind it. The obverses of each coin also reflect the Summer and Winter themes respectively, and carry the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, along with the country and year of issue, coin weight, purity and composition, and legal tender denomination.

This beautiful pair of silver coins was designed by Mint of Finland sculptor Erkki Vainio, and have been struck to the exact standard of proof quality by the Mint. The Fiji 2011 $1 Yin & Yang Lunar Rabbit Silver Proof Pair are encased in a single circular capsule and presented in an official jewel case, accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity which confirms the mintage of just 10,000 sets issued worldwide.