Monday, November 29, 2010

History of the Crusades Commemorated In Antiqued Silver Coin Series

A new and captivating series of silver coins has recently been completed that focuses on the tremendous historical significance of the first four religious military campaigns to conquer the Holy Land of Jerusalem, known as the Crusades.

The first four crusades occurred between 1095 and 1204 and were sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope of the time to reclaim the Holy Land of Jerusalem from Muslim occupation and restore it to Christian rule. The Crusades had far-reaching political, economic, and social impacts, some of which have lasted into contemporary times. Because of internal conflicts among Christian kingdoms and political powers, some of the crusade expeditions were diverted from their original aim. A brief summary of each of the first four crusades is as follows:

Cook Islands 2009 $5 History of the Crusades Godfrey of Bouillon Silver BU

The First Crusade: 1095-1099...In March 1095 Byzantine Emperor Alexius I called for help defending his empire against the Seljuk Turks. Later that year Pope Urban II called upon all Christians to join a war against the Turks, promising those who died in the endeavor would receive immediate remission of their sins. Following abortive crusades in early 1096, the official crusader armies set off from France and Italy on the papally ordained date of 15 August 1096. The lengthy Siege of Antioch began in October 1097 and endured until June of 1098, with the crusaders breaching the city walls and massacring the Muslim inhabitants. A Muslim relief army then beseiged the victorious crusaders, however the crusaders defeated this army but not without suffering many casualties. They finally reaching the walls of Jerusalem on 7 June 1099 with only a fraction of their original forces.

The Jews and Muslims fought together to defend Jerusalem against the invading Franks. They were unsuccessful though and on 15 July 1099 the crusaders entered the city. After gaining control of Jerusalem the Crusaders created four Crusader states: the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli. Initially, Muslims did very little about the Crusader states due to internal conflicts. Eventually, the Muslims began to reunite under the leadership of Imad al-Din Zangi. He began by re-taking Edessa in 1144. It was the first city to fall to the Crusaders, and became the first to be recaptured by the Muslims. This led the Pope to call for a second Crusade.

Cook Islands 2010 $1 History of the Crusades Louis VII of France Silver BU

The Second Crusade: 1147-1149...French and South German armies, under the Kings Louis VII and Conrad III respectively, marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to win any major victories, launching a failed pre-emptive siege of Damascus. On the other side of the Mediterranean, however, the Second Crusade met with great success as a group of Northern European Crusaders stopped in Portugal, allied with the Portuguese King, Afonso I of Portugal, and retook Lisbon from the Muslims in 1147. In the Holy Land by 1150, both the kings of France and Germany had returned to their countries without any result.

Cook Islands 2010 $5 History of the Crusades Richard the Lionheart Silver BU

The Third Crusade: 1187-1192...In 1187, Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, conquered Jerusalem after nearly a century under Christian rule. Pope Gregory VIII called for a crusade, which was led by several of Europe's most important leaders: Philip II of France, Richard I of England (aka Richard the Lionheart), and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick drowned in Cilicia in 1190, leaving an unstable alliance between the English and the French. After a long siege, Richard the Lionheart recaptured the city of Acre and took the entire Muslim soldier garrison under captivity, which was executed after a series of failed negotiations. The Crusader army headed south along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, recaptured the port city of Jaffa, and were in sight of Jerusalem. However, Richard did not believe he would be able to hold Jerusalem once it was captured, as the majority of Crusaders would then return to Europe, and the crusade ended without the taking of Jerusalem.

Cook Islands 2010 $5 History of the Crusades Henricus Dandulus Silver BU

The Fourth Crusade: 1202-1204...The Fourth Crusade was initiated in 1202 by Pope Innocent III, with the intention of invading the Holy Land through Egypt. Because the Crusaders lacked the funds to pay for the fleet and provisions that they had contracted from the Venetians, Doge Henricus Dandulus enlisted the crusaders to restore the Christian city of Zara (Zadar) to obedience. Because they subsequently lacked provisions and time on their vessel lease, the leaders decided to go to Constantinople, where they attempted to place a Byzantine exile on the throne. After a series of misunderstandings and outbreaks of violence, the Crusaders sacked the city in 1204, and established the so-called Latin Empire and a series of other Crusader states throughout the territories of the Greek Byzantine Empire. This is often seen as the final breaking point of the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and (Western) Roman Catholic Church.

Each of the four antiqued silver coins released in the History of the Crusades series are struck from 25 grams of sterling silver on a crown-sized flan to brilliant uncirculated quality. The coins are then treated with a special oxidation process that gives them the appearance of being antique, fitting for a set of coins focused on historical times. Each coin is encapsulated and supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity confirming the exclusive world-wide mintage of just 1000 coins struck for each Crusade.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Official COLT® Authorised Commemorative Silver Coin Honours The M-16 Rifle

Created by the New Zealand Mint with the express authorisation of Colt®, this eye-catching commemorative celebrates the iconic M-16 rifle used by the US military for nearly 50 years.

USA 2010 $5 Colt M16 1oz Silver Proof

The M16 is the United States military designation for the AR-15 rifle. Colt purchased the rights to the AR-15 from ArmaLite and currently uses that designation only for semi-automatic versions of the rifle. The M16 is a lightweight, 5.56 mm, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed assault rifle, with a rotating bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. The rifle is made of steel, 7075 aluminum alloy, composite plastics and polymer materials. The U.S. Air Force's rifle, the M16, and the United States Marine Corps and Army rifle, the XM16E1, were the first versions of the M16 rifle fielded, back in 1961. Soon, the U.S. Army standardized the XM16E1 as the M16A1 rifle, an M16 with a forward assist feature requested by the Army. All of the early versions were chambered to fire the M193/M196 cartridge in the semi-automatic and the automatic firing modes. This occurred in the early 1960s, with the Army issuing it in late 1964.

Struck to a limited mintage of just 20,000 silver coins worldwide, the Colt® M-16 Commemorative features a composite design on the reverse, showing the United States flag, which have been enhanced with colour using the New Zealand Mint's pad printing technology. Below is the image of the M-16 Caliber 5.56 mm rifle, along with the official Colt® logo. To the right are a set of stars and the Rampant Colt® design taken from the Colt family crest. On the obverse is the iconic American Eagle, together with the year of issue and face value.

Each silver coin is struck from 31.10 grams (1 ounce) of 99.99% fine silver on a 40.00mm flan to high quality Proof standards. Adding value and appeal to an already stunning release, the coin is supplied in a unique, "magazine clip" presentation case, with full-colour outer box, and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.