A new series from Ibex Coins called Gargoyles and Grotesques debuted just three months ago with a coin that garnered quite a bit of interest amongst collectors. Depicting the fantastical creatures that adorn many of the world’s most iconic cathedrals and medieval buildings, the first one took Washington National Cathedral for its inspiration – more specifically, the gargoyle called The Decay.
The second issue is already upon us and has jumped back to the Old World, the place where these stone marvels originated. Not content with picking something from one of the lesser buildings in Europe, Ibex have gone straight to the beautiful Notre Dame de Paris and one of its gargoyles called The Spitter of Notre Dame. As before, there’s a face on representation of the statue in question, with a background showing a facade of the building it’s from. Again, Ibex have kept the inscriptions on the reverse face down to just the series title – a wise decision.
Issued for the Republic of Chad, the African countries coat of arms sits on the obverse, surrounded by the required inscriptions. The emblem actually fits the theme of the coin very well. The coin is struck to a high-relief in a troy ounce of fine silver. Two versions of the coin are available with a combined mintage of just 999 pieces.
The antiqued finish will be the most numerous version with a mintage of 799. The final 200 coins will have a proof finish. Packaging seems to be identical for both and will include a serialised certificate of authenticity. Available to order now, it can be purchased from First Coin Company and PowerCoin, as well as from Bullionstop/Ibex.
argoyles are carved grotesques (decorative mythical figures) used high on the side of buildings to channel water away from the main masonry facade in times of heavy rainfall. Water falling on a roof would be directed to a gargoyle whereupon it would enter a channel into it and exit through a spout in the mouth. Where no water-dispelling function is incorporated, the carving is simply called a grotesque.
Originating with the French term Gargouille (gullet or throat), it’s linked to the seventh century legend of a former chancellor of the Merovingian king Clotaire II called St. Romanus who subdued a monster called Gargouille. Said to have been a Game of Thrones type dragon with batlike wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth, St. Romanus subdued, captured and burned the creature. Because its head and neck would not burn due to being tempered by its own fire breath, the head was mounted on the walls of the newly built church in Rouen to scare off evil spirits.
Popular in Medieval times, similar adornments go way back to the Ancient Egyptians who often used lion-head shaped monuments to perform a similar function. They passed from common use over the last few centuries as guttering and downpipes replaced them at much less cost and without the possibility of having one fall off and kill a hapless parishioner. There are still countless stunning examples in existence like those adorning the exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.