It goes without saying that regular readers have noticed the popularity of astronomy coins and also of issues tied to the myths and legends of old. There’s actually a lot of overlap between the two, not only with the binding of the planets into the beliefs of the old cultures, but in their naming. Mercury is a perfect example. The Romans were aware of seven bright objects in the night sky. The Sun and the Moon are obvious, along with the five brightest planets, and they named them after their most important gods. As the one that blazed the fastest trail across the sky, the smallest of them was given the name Mercury, after the messenger god.
Combining the god and the planet on a single coin is a neat idea and the way that Mint21 have done it is particularly attractive. The foreground is taken up with a representation of the Ancient Roman deity. Eschewing the intricate detail of some of the recent Mint of Poland coins with similar themes, the designer here has gone for a look reminiscent of the statues of classic antiquity. The antique finish is a nice choice.
The background is covered by a struck image of the planet done in digital colour. Humanity has actually photographed the surface quite closely, with NASA’s MESSENGER probe taking over 200,000 images of the surface during its thousands of orbits, and before crashing into the Mercury surface in 2015, leaving a little crater of its own. There’s considerable detail in the composite images and they make a great contrast to the figure of the Roman god.
The obverse is plain by comparison. Issued for Cameroon, it carries the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, something not overly common on issues for this African nation. Packaging comprises an elegant box which will hold a certificate of authenticity. The mintage is capped at 500, quite typical for a three-ounce silver coin, and is being distributed by Top World Coins, although we expect availability to spread. Shipping at the end of June, it has debuted at €269.00 and is available to pre-order now. A very nice release that bodes well for the future of this planned eight-coin series.