Perth-based coin producer Treasures of Oz, became popular through their excellent range of lunar coins and the associated ‘Creatures of Myth and Legend‘ series. Heading into bullion territory with the Tuna and Shark silver coins, their name has become much more widely known over the last couple of years. They’ve always produced sets of coins that are a little off the mainstream, the last being the decidedly odd coffee and cake coins, and the habit hasn’t gone away, fortunately.

Their latest set is called Four Aces, and is issued for the Pacific island protectorate of Tokelau, a country that Treasures of Oz are very closely linked to. Made up of four rectangular one-ounce fine silver coins, each one depicts an intricately designed and partly coloured symbol from one of the four inextricably linked with playing cards. Rather than just plaster a coloured heart, spade, club or diamond over the coins reverse, the designer has expended considerable effort forming the shapes from curling lines, almost fractal in nature. Coloured with a very light touch, the result is artistically very pleasing.

Clearly one more for the gift market than the outright numismatist, only 500 of these $495 AUD sets will be produced for the worldwide market. With professional gambling never having been more popular or widely viewed, it’s likely these will find a ready market. Packaged in what looks a decent box, although a wooden one with some of that intricate marketry on the top would’ve been nicer, the set ships around the middle of June and is available for pre-order on the Treasues of Oz website.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

Treasures of Oz is delighted to announce the release by Tokelau of a new coin set featuring intricately designed Aces in each of the four suits.

Playing cards have existed for millennia and around them hundreds of games have been devised. The Ace is a powerful tool for any successful card hand because of its unique flexibility to count as either one or 11 points, at the player’s discretion. The current card suits as we know them, Aces, Clubs, Spades and Diamonds, are what is know as the French suit, and their origin can be traced back to one person – Étienne Vignoles.

In the 1480s he developed the suit symbols using Cœurs, Carreaux, Trefles and Piques. These are the Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Spaces now well known in the English and French packs of cards. It was said that Cœurs, or Hearts, represented the Church, the holy men, symbolic of virtue; Carreaux, or Diamonds were arrowheads, symbolic of the vassals from whom the archers and bowmen were drawn; Trefles or Clubs, deriving from clover, represented the shepherds or husbandman; and Piques, the points of lances – Spaces, represented the knights.

Vignoles was also known as Lahire, and was said to be responsible for the appearance of the card suits. It is said that he and a friend, Étienne Chavalier, worked on the designs together. Lahire was reportedly a famous knight to King Charles 7th and Étienne Chavalier was his loyal secretary. Lahire had a reputation as a fierce skirmish-hardened warrier against the English. This was galvanized when he and Joan of Arc rode alongside each other and ploughed spear-long into an English column wrecking their contingency. The scuffle ended later that day with the fall of Augustins and the dismantling of the siege of Orleans (1429). After that came the march to Reims, and a succession of towns all the way till the last of the English were brushed off the shores of Gascony in 1453.

In early games the Kings were always the highest card, but by the late 14th century significance began to be placed on the lowest card, the One or “Ace” as we have come to know it. The practice was further popularized in the republican fervor of the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) where many more games began to be played ‘Ace high’. The term Ace has since then come to represent excellence and the highest quality. It gives its name to such things as successful fighter pilots, unreachable tennis serves, and anyone highly proficient or an expert in their field. Aces are also seen as exceptionally good luck and, in fortune telling, for example, are an indication of good luck and a happy marriage!

The four coins in this set feature beautifully designed suit symbols in proof against a mirror table. The finely crafted design is partly highlighted in colour, a highly delicate process on such intricately detailed relief.

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SPECIFICATION (x4)

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$1 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 27 x 47 mm PROOF 500 YES / YES
TREASURES OF OZ