Andrzej Sapkowski’s hugely popular The Witcher books enter the world of coins with a striking duo

Greek gods, Roman gods, Chinese warlords, weird ancient myths and legends, even the occasional real historical figure, have all been subjects of the Mint of Poland in its quite outstanding range of 2oz silver coins. To date, however, they’ve shown little inclination to applying their now signature format to modern interpretations of the genre. That’s about the change.

One of the greats in the world of literary fantasy, Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s ‘The Witcher’ novels have really struck a chord with a modern audience perhaps a little tired of the whole Lord of the Rings saga. Telling the tale of Geralt of Rivia, a hunter of beasts with supernatural abilities, they continue over six novels and two early collections of short stories. The author is currently writing a new book set in the Witcher Universe, although not as a continuation of the saga.

The Mint of Gdansk and the Mint of Poland have got together to announce a whole new series of coins dedicated to the books. There will be eight releases – one pair of coins for each of the eight books that make up the whole story to date. The first and most iconic issue will be the classic 2oz coin that depicts a summary of the book, and there’s also a huge kilo coin that depicts a classic scene form each novel. The design of the 2oz reverse carries the initials BKD, which stands for Beata Kulesza-Damaziak, a Polish coin designer we consider one of the very best working in the industry today. Hugely talented, she is responsible for many of this mints best issues and this one is a fine example of her work.

Depicting the main characters in combat with a beast of some kind, it is quite literally packed from from edge to edge with a mass of fine, high-relief detail. The gilded sword works as a fine focal point, while a 3D printed spell ball is wielded by Yennefer. Like much of this artists work, the more you look at the coin, the more great touches come to light. The obverse is beautiful. Despite having to carry the effigy of QEII, it is equally packed with scene-setting imagery.

The second coin in this release run is the bigger of the two by some way. Tipping the scales at a kilo of 0.999 silver, it features completely different artwork. We’re not sure if this also a work by Beata as the posing seems to be a different style, but again, the scene is packed with detail. Sadly, we only have pencil renders of this one and not the full ArtCAM ones of the 2oz, so comparisons are difficult.

The blue agate window, inspired by CIT’s legendary Tiffany Art series, looks great and is well integrated into the design on both faces. The obverse on the bigger coin could easily pass for the main attraction on most other releases. We look forward to seeing better images of this one and will share them when they appear.

Mintages on both are realistic given the huge, and soon to be increasing popularity of the subject. The 2oz coin is capped at 2,000 pieces, while the chunky monkey tops out at 200, although availability to the collectors market is constrained as like many franchised coins, some are pre-allocated. Both will come well presented, with C.O.A.’s and a wooden box. The smaller coin should ship this year, with the kilo dropping in January. Next year will see the release of a second pair using the Sword of Destiny novel for its inspiration. Definitely a series to watch on artistic grounds alone. Over the next few years, this could develop into a really fine series that follows the characters on their journey. Available to order now.

THE WITCHER UNIVERSE

The stories are set on an unnamed Continent, which was settled several thousand years earlier by elves from overseas. When they arrived, the elves encountered gnomes and dwarves. After a period of war between the elves and dwarves, the dwarves retreated into the mountains and the elves settled in the plains and forests. Human colonists arrived about five hundred years before the events in the stories, igniting a series of wars. The humans were victorious, and became dominant; the non-human races, now considered second-class citizens, often live in small ghettos within human settlements. Those not confined to the ghettos live in wilderness regions not yet claimed by humans. Other races on the Continent are halflings and dryads; werewolves and vampires appeared after a magical event, known as the Conjunction of the Spheres.

During the centuries preceding the stories, most of the Continent’s southern regions have been taken over by the Nilfgaard Empire; the north belongs to the fragmented Northern Kingdoms. The Witcher saga takes place in the aftermath of the first major war between the Nilfgaard Empire and the Northern Kingdoms, with a second war beginning in the middle of the series.

The Continent can be divided into four regions. The Northern Kingdoms (where most of the saga takes place) consists of Aedirn, Cidaris, Cintra, Hengfors League, Kaedwen, Kerack, Kovir and Poviss, Lyria and Rivia, Redania, Temeria and Verden and several minor duchies and principalities such as Bremervoord or Ellander. The Nilfgaard Empire occupies most of the area south of the Northern Kingdoms. The eastern part of the Continent, such as the Korath desert, Zerrikania, Hakland and the Fiery Mountains, is mostly unknown. The book series mentions overseas countries with whom the Northern Kingdoms trade, including Zangvebar, Ofir, Hannu and Barsa. (Wikipedia)

THE WITCHER BOOKS, GAMES & TELEVISION

The Witcher short stories by the author Andrzej Sapkowski were first published in Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka, beginning in the mid-1980s. The first short story, “Wiedźmin” (“The Witcher”) (1986), was written for a contest held by the magazine and won third place. The series has ‘concluded’ with the publication of the sixth novel in the saga, although that isn’tt including the earlier short story compilations, The Last Wish, and the Sword of Destiny.

The novels became more widely known throughout the rest of the world after the story was used for an officially licenced video-game series by Polish company CD Projekt, the latest of which, The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt, is widely considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time, certainly in its genre. Released in 2015, it has shipped over 20 million copies across multiple formats since then.

There were a couple of Polish TV shows based around the books, but neither were much liked by the author, Andrzej Sapkowski. The big news, however, is that Netflix is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a new TV series starring Superman himself, Henry Cavill in the lead role. Due to air in December, it apparently leans more towards the horror aspects of the book in lieu of the fantasy elements. Early buzz is very positive and this could lead to the franchise hitting new heights, with a resurgence in readership of the books as a result.

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue) $50 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams 1000.00 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm 100.0 mm
FINISH Antique Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, gilding, 3dP High-relief, Agate
MINTAGE 2,000 200
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
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