The World Money fair in Berlin is the showpiece event of the numismatic calendar, encompassing more releases than pretty much all the other events combined. Coin Invest Trust (CIT) are no different in this regard, and despite showing new coins at a few other events during the calendar, always have an exceptional showing here. We’ve already covered their flagship Tiffany and Mongolian nature series, but there’s plenty of other innovative coins in amongst another fine release schedule. As usual, CIT like the experiment and push boundaries. Those boundaries are even further than usual due to a new minting technology they’re calling Smart-minting, a technique that allows for greater relief and thinner strikes than ever before. By the end of this week you’ll have a good idea of the potential for the process.

The first coin this week is a fine example of just what smart-minting can do. A 50mm, 50g fine silver round is about the only standard thing you could say about this one, from there the coin exhibiting a superb, intricate level of detail, maintained despite the coin thinning out towards the centre. In the centre of the coin is a tiny micro-labyrinth, fully functioning with a ball just 0.4mm in size. To put that in perspective, 63 of these side by side will measure just an inch across. It’s quite amazing to see and works as an integral part of the coin theme; it’s not just added for the sake of it. It took CIT some time to even work out what material to make the ball from as making something that small roll smoothly wasn’t easy.

The coin design replicates the image of the Egyptian Labyrinth described by Herodotus in the fifth century BC, and drawn by 17th century polymath and scholar Athanasius Kircher in his book Oedipus Aegyptiacus. The art on the tin also replicates the labyrinth, with each one featuring just a small part of it so that only by placing all 999 tins together will the image of the whole be revealed. Each of these unique and unusual coins comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and ships at the end of April/start of May. Early pre-order prices are in the €220-270 range.

LOST LABYRINTH OF EGYPT

Herodotus was a fifth century BC greek historian often called the Father of History, and in his book Histories, he wrote

“This I have actually seen, a work beyond words. For if anyone put together the buildings of the Greeks and display of their labours, they would seem lesser in both effort and expense to this labyrinth… Even the pyramids are beyond words, and each was equal to many and mighty works of the Greeks. Yet the labyrinth surpasses even the pyramids.”

He was describing a temple and labyrinth purported to contain 3,000 rooms laden of hieroglyphs and paintings. Today, nothing remains of the complex, supposedly destroyed for the stone to be used on Roman projects leaving nothing behind but a 2m deep pile of stone chippings. Staggeringly, despite writing 2,500 years ago, the maze was 1,300 years old at the time of Herodotus’ visit, having been built as the mortuary temple of pharaoh Amenemhet III. Herodotus went on;

“It has twelve courts covered in, with gates facing one another, six upon the North side and six upon the South, joining on one to another, and the same wall surrounds them all outside; and there are in it two kinds of chambers, the one kind below the ground and the other above upon these, three thousand in number, of each kind fifteen hundred. The upper set of chambers we ourselves saw;… but the chambers underground we heard about only… For the passages through the chambers, and the goings this way and that way through the courts, which were admirably adorned, afforded endless matter for marvel, as we went through from a court to the chambers beyond it, and from the chambers to colonnades, and from the colonnades to other rooms, and then from the chambers again to other courts. Over the whole of these is a roof made of stone like the walls; and the walls are covered with figures carved upon them, each court being surrounded with pillars of white stone fitted together most perfectly; and at the end of the labyrinth, by the corner of it, there is a pyramid of forty fathoms, upon which large figures are carved, and to this there is a way made under ground. Such is this labyrinth.”

Other ancient writers described the complex, including Strabo (64 BC – 19 AD) who also claims to have visited the site, and Pliny (23 – 79 AD). There seems little doubt the site was not only real, but something of true wonder. Kircher’s representation is, like almost all his work on Egypt, completely incorrect, but nevertheless makes a superb subject for a coin.

 

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The coin Milestones of Mankind features so many highlights – it could become a Milestone of modern numismatics itself. It portrays the Egyptian labyrinth as described by Athanasius Kircher (1602 -1680), with a level of detail that is beyond comparison.

Moreover, each of the 999 boxes also displays a section of this mystical labyrinth, thus transforming each individual box into a unique collector‘s item. Only if all the boxes were assembled together, would the whole picture and maybe even the  legendary treasure be revealed.

This unique collector’s coin is produced using smartminting. The gradually increasing depression towards the centre of the coin, holds a specially developed and fully functional micro-labyrinth.

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$10 COOK ISLANDS 0.999 SILVER 50.0 g 50.0 mm PROOF 999 YES / YES
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