The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coins are back with the Red Horseman of war

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a potent symbol of the conflict within man, and has generated much powerful imagery through history. It therefore goes without saying that it’s a fine subject for a limited series of quality numismatics, and that is exactly what the Mint of Poland have given us. It’s actually getting a little embarrassing gushing over this mints latest releases on a regular basis, but we have to say it how we see it, and the mints output in this genre is quite stunning.

This second coin depicts the Red Horseman, and follows the beautiful White Horseman coin that launched back in June last year. As you’d expect, the format of choice is a two-ounce, rimless, ultra-high relief silver coin with, in the case of this series, selective gilding. Just renders at this stage of course, but a long proven track record of exceeding expectations raised by them means we have little concern the finished article won’t be a beauty.

The Red Horseman is usually associated with war and the dynamic design of the reverse certainly reflects the chaos of battle. The mounted horseman with gilded sword and helmet dominates this face, but the background is absolutely packed solid with details. A complex and ambitious design, it’s a fine example of just how far minting techniques have come in the last half-decade or so.

The common obverse is as striking as ever, and it’s hard to believe this is a Niue issue given coins for the Oceanic territory usually comprise just an effigy of QEII. She is present, but doesn’t dominate. Shipping in April and with a 500 mintage, this is yet another example of why the Mint of Poland’s mythology coins are so admired and sought after. Distributed by Canadian dealer Coin Shoppe, we’d suggest not hanging around too long as many of these coins appreciate quickly on the aftermarket. We’ll revisit this one when actual coin images are available.

“When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” Revelation 6:3-4

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to John of Patmos, at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a book or scroll in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses.

Though theologians and popular culture differ on the first Horseman, the four riders are often seen as symbolizing Conquest or Pestilence (and less frequently, the Christ or the Antichrist), War, Famine, and Death. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the Four Horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.

One reading ties the Four Horsemen to the history of the Roman Empire subsequent to the era in which the Book of Revelation was written. That is, they are a symbolic prophecy of the subsequent history of the Empire.

The rider of the second horse is often taken to represent War (he is often pictured holding a sword upwards as though ready for battle) or mass slaughter. His horse’s color is red; and in some translations, the color is specifically a “fiery” red. The color red, as well as the rider’s possession of a great sword, suggests blood that is to be spilled. The sword held upward by the second Horseman may represent war or a declaration of war, as seen in heraldry. In military symbolism, swords held upward, especially crossed swords held upward, signify war and entering into battle. (See for example the coat of arms, of Jeanne of Arc.)

The second Horseman may represent civil war as opposed to the war of conquest that the first Horseman is sometimes said to bring. Other commentators have suggested that it might also represent the persecution of Christians.

According to Edward Bishop Elliott’s interpretation of the Four Horsemen as symbolic prophecy of the history of the Roman Empire, the second seal is opened and the Roman nation that experienced joy, prosperity and triumph is made subject to the red horse which depicts war and bloodshed — civil war. Peace left the Roman Earth resulting in the killing of one another as insurrection crept into and permeated the Empire beginning shortly into the reign of the Emperor Commodus.

Elliott points out that Commodus, who had nothing to wish and everything to enjoy, that beloved son of Marcus Aurelius who ascended the throne with neither competitor to remove nor enemies to punish, became the slave of his attendants who gradually corrupted his mind. His cruelty degenerated into habit and became the ruling passion of his soul.

Elliott further recites that, after the death of Commodus, a most turbulent period lasting 92 years unfolded during which time 32 emperors and 27 pretenders to the Empire hurled each other from the throne by incessant civil warfare. The sword was a natural, universal badge among the Romans, of the military profession. The apocalyptic figure indicated by the great sword indicated an undue authority and unnatural use of it. Military men in power, whose vocation was war and weapon the sword, rose by it and also fell. The unrestrained military, no longer subject to the Senate, transformed the Empire into a system of pure military despotism. (Source: Wikipedia)

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Gilded highlights, ultra high relief
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
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MINT OF POLAND