A new series from the Mint of Poland, and additions to two others expand their ancient world selection

The darling of the coin world at the moment, the Mint of Poland’s’ various series of antiqued 2oz ancient themed issues are setting new standards for consistent high quality. While struck by the mint, they are often issued and/or distributed by third parties, but they do release some of them directly. The three issues below are recent examples of these – one represents the debut of a new series, while the other pair are second appearances in their respective ranges.

To start off with the all-new coin, Chariot Warfare is the one that has the most in common with the flagship third-party offerings. A very dynamic piece with selective gilding, it shares the packed-in detail that makes Mennica Polska coins so sought after. In my opinion however, it doesn’t reach the same highs. Perhaps the perspective is a little off, or something else, but I’m not feeling it with this one. The staid obverse, devoid of the customisation that this mint has been employing of late, doesn’t help. A 500 mintage and presentation in a latex floating frame round it out.

Next up is the second of the attractive Goddesses coins. These take a Greek female deity and showcase her alongside the Roman counterpart. The first issue looked at Nike/Victoria, and this time around it’s Athena and her Roman doppelgänger, Minerva. Now these are less ambitious designs, but also very attractive ones. Not everything has to be swords and sandals, so the elegance on display here is a nice touch. That elegance continues on the obverse, even though the Queen’s mugshot is still in evidence. Presented in a wooden box and limited to 500 pieces, this is easily our favourite of the three.

Last but not least, Swietowid is the second in the Slavic Gods series. We love the choice of subject matter. Eastern European deities are not well known in the wider world, so their appearance here is a great opportunity to know more. Following Perun, the artistic style is very similar and again, not up to the mints best, but still a good one. An oak insert carries a runic symbol and the common obverse is easily the most decorated of the three issues. Again, it’s presented in a wooden box and is capped at 500 pieces.

All three are available to order now.

2019 CHARIOT WARFARE

The chariot was a light vehicle, usually on two wheels, drawn by one or more horses, often carrying two standing persons, a driver and a fighter using bow-and-arrow or javelins. The chariot was the supreme military weapon in Eurasia roughly from 1700 BCE to 500 BCE but was also used for hunting purposes and in sporting contests such as the Olympic Games and in the Roman Circus Maximus.

Horses were not used for transport, ploughing, warfare or any other practical human activity until quite late in history, and the chariot was the first such application. Donkeys and other animals were preferred in early civilizations.

The first reference to charioteers in the civilized world comes from Syria around 1800 BCE. Over the course of the next four centuries, chariots advanced into civilization, either by direct migration of steppe people or by diffusion, and it quickly came to be the preferred elite weapon.

The most famous chariot battle was that of Kadesh (1294 BCE), fought between the two super powers of the time, Egypt and Hatti (Hittites), where some 50 chariots are presumed to have participated for each side. The small number of chariots compared to infantry troops is a good indicator of how effective the chariot was: in China the ratio was up to 25 infantry soldiers per chariot.  (Plubins, R. Q. (2013, March 06). Chariot. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/chariot/ )

2019 ATHENA & MINERVA

Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom and strategy. She is one of the Twelve Olympians. Athena’s symbol is the owl, the wisest of the birds. She also had a shield called Aegis, which was a present given to her by Zeus. She is often shown with her helmet on and with her shield, which has Medusa’s head on it. This was a present to her from Perseus.

Athena is the protector of Athens, Greece, a city named after her. The Parthenon, which is on the Acropolis in Athens, is her most famous temple. She also helped many heroes, including Heracles, Jason, and Odysseus, and is always seen with Nike, the goddess of victory.

Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare and the sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. From the second century BC onward, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena, though the Romans did not stress her relation to battle and warfare as the Greeks did.

She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, and the crafts. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva”, which symbolised her association with wisdom and knowledge as well as, less frequently, the snake and the olive tree.

2019 SLAVIC GODS: SWIETOWID

Svetovid is a Slavic deity of war, fertility and abundance primarily venerated on the island of Rügen into the 12th century. He is often considered a local Rugian variant of the pan-Slavic god Perun.

Sometimes referred to as Beli Vid (Beli = white, bright, shining), Svetovid is associated with war and divination and depicted as a four-headed god with two heads looking forward and two back. A statue portraying the god shows him with four heads, each one looking in a separate direction, a symbolical representation of the four directions of the compass, and also perhaps the four seasons of the year. Each face had a specific colour. The northern face of this totem was white (hence White Ruthenia / Belarus and the White Sea), the western, red (hence Red Ruthenia), the southern, black (hence the Black Sea) and the eastern, green (hence Zeleny klyn).

According to various chronicles (i.e. Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus and Chronica Slavorum by Helmold), the temple at Jaromarsburg contained a giant wooden statue of Svantevit depicting him with four heads (or one head with four faces) and a horn of abundance. Each year the horn was filled with fresh mead.

The temple was also the seat of an oracle in which the chief priest predicted the future of his tribe by observing the behaviour of a white horse identified with Svantevit and casting dice (horse oracles have a long history in this region, being already attested in the writings of Tacitus). The temple also contained the treasury of the tribe and was defended by a group of 300 mounted warriors which formed the core of the tribal armed forces.

SPECIFICATION
COIN CHARIOT GODDESSES SLAVIC GODS
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue) $5 NZD (Niue) $2 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams 62.2 grams 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.0 mm 45.0 mm 50.0 mm
FINISH Antique Antique Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, gilding High-relief, gilding High-relief, oak inset
MINTAGE 500 500 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
MINT OF POLAND