Mint 21 adds the third century Ancient Chinese warlord Lu Bu to its range of high-relief silver coins

While the greatest volume of coins in the antiqued, high-relief ancient world coin genre are produced by the Mint of Poland, followed some way behind in numbers, although certainly not in quality, by Numiscollect, there are still others issuing coins that can hold their own against these established presences. Although relatively new to the genre, Mint 21 have proven adept at bringing their own artistic style to market.

Following their Apocalypse issue, and the stunning Spartan Hoplite coin, the mint has focused its eye on Ancient China, a region garnering more attention of late after several years of a decidedly Eurocentric view. It’s a fascinating period in time, and comparatively unknown outside of China. Case in point is the third-century warlord Lu Bu.

Depicted on horseback, loosing an arrow at some foot soldiers, it’s a good close-up view of warfare at the time, at least how we imagine it today. It’s quite a different artistic style to the Mint of Poland issues and everyone will have their own preferences, but we’re glad the different styles are both available at all. We’d have moved the Lu Bu title to down between the horses legs perhaps, but other than that, this is crammed with some excellent detail, and the coloured landscape in the background makes a change from the usual – a nod to a visual style often seen in Chinese art..

Onto the obverse, and it’s quite gorgeous. We’ve seen dragon coins that don’t look as good as this on their main face, and even with the necessary effigy and issue details, it looks brilliant. It certainly helps that being a 3oz silver coin, the diameter has expanded to a nice 55 mm, giving plenty of space to bring the design to life, while maintaining the expected levels of high-relief that are needed to compete in this packed genre.

The mintage is capped at 500 pieces and the coin will come boxed with the usual certificate of authenticity. It should ship from the middle of November and seems to have debuted with a price around the €299.00 mark. You can pre-order one from Top World Coins, or from participating dealers now.


Lü Bu (died 7 February 199), courtesy name Fengxian, was a military general and warlord who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of Imperial China. Originally a subordinate of a minor warlord Ding Yuan, he betrayed and murdered Ding and defected to Dong Zhuo, the warlord who controlled the Han central government in the early 190s. In 192, he turned against Dong Zhuo and killed him after being instigated by Wang Yun and Shisun Rui, but was later defeated and driven away by Dong Zhuo’s followers.

From 192 to mid-195, Lü Bu wandered around central and northern China, consecutively seeking shelter under warlords such as Yuan Shu, Yuan Shao and Zhang Yang. In 194, he managed to take control of Yan Province from the warlord Cao Cao with help from defectors from Cao’s side, but Cao took back his territories within two years. In 196, Lü Bu turned against Liu Bei, who had offered him refuge in Xu Province, and seized control of the province from his host. Although he had agreed to an alliance with Yuan Shu earlier, he severed ties with him after Yuan declared himself emperor – treason against Emperor Xian of Han – and joined Cao and others in attacking the pretender. However, in 198, he sided with Yuan Shu again and came under attack by the combined forces of Cao and Liu, resulting in his defeat at the Battle of Xiapi in 199. He was captured and executed on Cao’s order.

Although Lü Bu is described in historical and fictional sources as an exceptionally mighty warrior, he was also notorious for his temperamental behaviour. He switched allegiances erratically and freely betrayed his allies, and was noted for his poor planning and management skills. He was always suspicious of others and could not control his subordinates. All these factors ultimately led to his downfall. In the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the details of his life are dramatised and some fictitious elements – including his romance with the fictional maiden Diaochan – are added to portray him as a nearly unchallenged warrior who was also a ruthless and impulsive brute bereft of morals. (Source: Wikipedia)

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 93.3 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, gilding, colour
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes