Big Brother is watching and the Austrian Mint’s 18th silver niobium coin is in on it…

The annual trip to Niobiumland by the Austrian Mint is here again and for 2020 it’s a timely look at the world of surveillance, with ‘Big Data’. As with all of the coins in this series, it’s a clever take on the subject and a cool implementation. Nothing says ‘Big Brother’ more than the all-seeing eye, once an iconic symbol of the Freemasons, but now repurposed for the digital age, one the likes of George Orwell barely scratched the surface of.

The obverse features a group of people being watched by a digital camera, their every move catalogued for future recall. Both of these images are confined to the signature feature of the coins in this range – the central niobium pill. Niobium can hold colour through a process called ‘anodized oxidation’, so what you’re seeing isn’t a colour application done after the strike. The Austrian Mint was the first to employ the innovative technique, moving from the use of a single colour to two colours in 2014. They’re still one of the only mints to employ it.

The outer ring of the coin is formed in nine grams of 0.900 silver and carries a design that complements the niobium section, giving it some context – a camera lens on the reverse and a video camera on the obverse. All told, we think this is a fine entrant in the series. although outdone by a couple of other recent issues, particularly 2019’s superb Artificial Intelligence.

Now eighteen coins old, Niobium Series remains popular despite the healthy 65,000 mintage and it’s easy to see why. A unique look and a distinctive style have led to it picking up multiple awards since 2003. We see no reason that popularity shouldn’t continue based on this outing. You can read more and see more in our Coin Series Profile to the range, to which this one has been added. It’s an older guide, so we’re looking to revise it shortly. The coin is available now for €76.80 and has a 3 pieces per order limit.


The Internet creates infinite possibilities and gives instant explanations by placing the world at our fingertips. But while surfing the net we leave visible traces that businesses use to learn about our individual preferences by analysing the resulting large data sets, meaning that users lose their privacy and autonomy. Big Data, the latest edition in the best-selling Silver Niobium series, highlights the dangers and disadvantages of the digital revolution.

Our lives are digitised to such an extent that it is both virtually impossible to remember how we ever managed during our previous analogue existence and to imagine a world in which hand-held devices do not exist. The Internet opens new possibilities to everyone, but the data collected is usually stored digitally and can be analysed with special software. Thus, before we delve deeper and deeper, we should ask ourselves the following: While I am learning on the Internet, what is the Internet learning about me?

In its niobium core, the obverse of Big Data features a human eye that represents surveillance on the one hand and the biometric method of iris recognition on the other, while the silver outer ring is designed like a camera lens. The reverse of the coin shows people under surveillance, which is recognisable from the 20:20 running time on the left edge of the outer silver ring. In the foreground of the niobium core, one of a number of human silhouettes is peppered with squares that symbolise the personal data collected about that person.

COMPOSITION 0.925 silver / 0.998 Niobium
WEIGHT 9.0 grams / 7.5 grams
FINISH Special Uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS Bi-coloured niobium
MINTAGE 65,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes