Eric Bloodaxe launches a stunning new series of Vikings by the Mint of Poland

The Vikings are a byword for a brutal, unstoppable force that comes from the sea, runs rampant, and then disappears again. The truth is quite different of course, as Norse culture was rich in many ways, not a one-dimensional plague of pagan warriors, but a fully functioning and impressive civilisation in its own right. It’s fair to say, however, that the popular image isn’t going away any time soon, and the Mint of Poland’s latest series is a case in point.

Eric Bloodaxe is a name that provokes awe in people. A powerful figure, feared by all, steamrollering across battlefields and taking kingdoms is how most of us think of him. In reality, he was without question a fine warrior, but hardly a force feared by all. The king of Wessex, Athelstan, was by far the more impressive historical figure, but not one that has made the transition to modern mythos anywhere near as well. The Bloodaxe’s choice for the coin was a no-brainer.

The design of this one is just sublime, a superb piece of art, very dynamic, and packed to the edges with tons of detail, like the seabirds and the runic carvings on the side of the boat. It’s a fanciful depiction, but one that fits our own image of the man more than the less extreme reality. The use of perspective, often a failing with coins that depict human figures, is absolutely bang on. The short-handled axe is gilded on its head, while the rest of the coin is antiqued. Ultra high relief is in abundance.

There are no surprises with the format, but given how successful the 2oz silver coin has become for the Mint of Poland, we’re not surprised. This has a 45 mm diameter and is rimless. We have yet to see packaging, but it will come boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, and there willbe just 500 pieces struck. Vikings is planned to be a five coin series, with a single release every year – a schedule we like a lot given the amount of series currently out there. This one is being joint distributed by both Coin Shoppe and Pela Coins, and should be up for pre-order soon, with shipping currently planned for June. Given the current situation with Covid-19, don’t be surprised if things slip, but we’re sure you already know that. In our view, this one is well worth waiting for. Brilliant.

Obverse removed pending revision.

ERIC BLOODAXE

The favourite son of the king that unified Norway - Harald Finehair - Eric Bloodaxe inherited the crown of Western Norway on his fathers death, but soon ran into conflict with his brother Hakon. With support from Athelstan of Wessex, Hakon drove Eric out of Norway and to the British Isles, where he established himself as the king of Northumberia.

He earned the epithet 'Bloodaxe' from his raids into Scotland and around the Irish Sea, but despite a reputation as a fine warrior, he was hardlya major success. Not only was he driven out of Norway, he was driven out of Northumbria on at least two occasions. Indeed, his 'kingdom' collapsed upon his death in 954 and was always overseen by Athelstan.

Most of what we know comes from the famed Viking Saga's, which were composed in Iceland in the 13th century, and these are full of bias, fancy and speculation, as you would expect. In truth, his name is far more impressive than his reality. Neither of his Northumbrian reigns exceeded two years in length, his Norweigian throne was gone in similar time, and he was always in fear of more powerful forces at the time. He died in battle, killed by an ambush force under Maccus, son of Olaf, the king of Dublin.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION TBC
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams (2 t/oz)
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
MINTAGE 500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
MINT OF POLAND