Mint XXI showcases the natural world with impressive Honey Bee, Lioness and Mountain Gorilla silver coins

One of our favourite producers around at the moment, Mint XXI has issued some quite stunning coins over the last couple of years, so it’s always a pleasure to get a new batch to look at. To start off, we’re looking at the purely nature-themed coins, of which there are three this time, two of them continuations of existing series.

As usual, we’re not disappointed, and the Honey Bee and Mountain Gorilla release in particular are both stunning examples of the genre. All are two ounce silver coins, high-relief, rimless, and antique finished. That’s a popular format for a reason. I’ve broken the post up so each coin is laid out seperately for easier viewing.


I’m not sure exactly what it is about the workaholic Honey Bee, but it’s inspired some fine coin designs over the last few years. The NZ Post, Powercoin, the Mint of Poland, and the Bank oi Latvia have all issued some fine designs either depicting, or inspired by this industrious insect. Mint XXI have added to the mix with this quite stunning piece of numismatic art.

If you’re going to depict nature, there’s much to be said for choosing behaviour over form for inspiration. This coin is a perfect example of that. Rather than showing us a single bee, there are in excess of 25 of them swarming over a honeycomb. A single individual appears to be the focus of attention, either the queen (it does seem a little larger), or a worker doing a bee dance, which they use to describe to other bees where a food source is.

The level of relief combined with the intricate detail is quite sublime. Everywhere you look there’s something new to look at. It’s quite a phenomenal piece. The small section of gilded honeycombs is a great touch, both completely appropriate in colour, and enhancing the environment the bees are placed in. Even the text inscription uses a font that follows the contours of each honeycomb cell.

It’s a two-ounce coin that’s issued for Niue. There’s a small nod to customisation of the obverse – a honeycomb-style geometric design around the Quenn’s effigy – perhaps hinting at the lifespan of the queen bee herself – but it’s otherwise quite standard. This coin, like the others we’re looking at here, is boxed with a C.O.A. A simply stunning piece. We want one!

$5 NZD (Niue) 62.2 g of 0.999 silver 45 mm Antique w/gilding 500


No sooner are we done with the awesome Honey Bee coin and we come to another cracking release. The second in Mint XXI’s ‘Expressions of Wildlife’ series, following a striking Lion coin last year, this series appears to focus on portraits, but ones that actually show some emotion, rather than just a static anatomical view. The Lion design played into our fears of the power and aggression of Panthera Leo, and it would’ve been so easy to do the same here, but the artist has resisted the temptation for something so much better.

Intelligent, thoughtful creatures, not the mindless beasts of Hollywood, the gorilla shown here is a wise, tolerant animal, peacefully looking out of the window that is the coins reverse. As much as I like the Honey Bee issue, I find my eye drawn to this one even more. A two-ounce coin, devoid of embellishment and carrying the attractive common obverse from the series, this bodes well for ‘Expressions of Wildlife’ being a series to watch closely. This and the Lion make fine companions.

2,000 Francs CFA 62,2 g of 0.999 silver 50 mm Antique 500


Wildlife in the Moonlight is the most established of the series here, the Lioness being the third issue to date. Previous coins have depicted the Long Eared Owl and the Grey Wolf, all themed around the premise of nocturnal behaviour. The wolf and owl were alert, but the Lioness is shown relaxed and scouting for prey. These big cats have night vision six times more sensitive than ours, and are active and successful nocturnal hunters.

The style of the third coin is retained from the first pair, with a gilded moon providing a perfect backdrop to the scene. The anatomy looks great and it’s probably my favourite in the series to date. We look forward to actual coin images of this one. Again, it’s a two ounce, antique-finished, high relief strike, which continues to do sterling service in the modern coin world.

$5 NZD (Niue) 62.2 g of 0.999 silver 45 mm Antique w/gilding 500