Fine art is brought to numismatic life with an interesting multi-mint selection of artists and styles

Fine art has always been a popular subject in the numismatic world. We’ve seen many series over the last decade alone, covering a broad range of artists, in a wide selection of styles, and that isn’t even including the ancient world’s many treasures. It must seem to be an easy thing to use for a new coin, and for many, it is, when that implementation amounts to nothing more than digitally printing the work on a piece of silver. Some have made the minimal effort to put a frame around it, for example, but in general, many take the easy way out.

That isn’t always the case, however, and many producers go to great lengths to imbue their coins with their own DNA, giving us a new take on a well known work, and one taking advantage of the metal canvas and its three-dimensional nature. What we have here is a selection of the latest, all taking the work of well known artists, and reproducing them with a twist. It’s quite a varied mix, and a fine example of where modern numismatics have taken us in recent years.

There are others, of course, with Powercoin’s mosaic series being a particular stand-out, but these are the latest. We’ll concentrate on how the art has been used, as we’ve covered the artists many times before, so enjoy the images.

UPDATE: Corrected information on the Portrait of a Lady coin by PMC

STARRY NIGHT by Vincent van Gogh (Mint XXI)

Vincent van Gogh’s classic ‘Starry Night’ is no stranger to the coin world, having appeared several times from different producers, but we’re blown away by just how inventive Mint XXI’s latest offering is. Van Gogh had an incredible visual style, so distinctive that even a Philistine like me can see it, and ‘Starry Night’ is one of the most widely lauded of his works. The flowing style lends itself to incorporation into others, with Powercoin’s ‘Micropuzzle’ coin a good example, but what they’ve done here is outstanding.

Stained-glass windows are an old type of art, and one we’re all familiar with, but the reproducing of Van Gogh’s work in a stained-glass style is quite stunning. They almost seem made for each other. The use of colour is quite exquisite, with the glass taking on multiple hues within each panel, rather than taking a simplistic route. It’s a two-ounce coin, but it still expands out to an impressive 70 mm in diameter, and the use of a latex ‘floating frame’ for packaging means this will be an easy and attractive display item.

10 Cedis (Ghana) 62.2 g 0.999 silver 70.0 mm Antique w/colour 500

RHINOCEROS by Albrecht Dürer (Art Mint)

Albrecht Dürer has also been the subject of many coins over the years, with the famous ‘Rhinoceros’ picture a particular favourite, but we’ve not seen it done this well before. Widely considered one of the most influential animal works of all time, despite being anatomically wrong (Dürer never actually saw one), the woodcut skewed Western views of the animal for centuries, proving the power of art through time.

The original was a woodcut, so a flat, monochrome, line-art print. What Art Mint has done, is keep the style, but bring it into high-relief, and have greatly enhanced it with some expertly applied antique finishing. A very well realised coin, giving added life to a perennial classic. A two-ounce coin, it’s made especially desirable with its miniscule mintage of just 150 pieces.

2,000 CFA (Cameroon) 62.2 g 0.999 silver 50.0 mm Antique 150

ROSEBUD EGG by Fabergé (CIT)

Regular readers will be no stranger to CIT’s Fabergé Egg collection, and the Rosebud Egg is the third annual release. These proof coins have an original background pattern, inspired by the detail on the egg, but it is that egg which remains the main focus. Employing the producer’s proprietary ‘Smartminting’ technology, the Rosebud Egg is depicted in ultra-high-relief, lifting well above the level of the background.

That the egg is also intricately coloured, despite the extreme relief, is quite an impressive achievement. Fabergé eggs are quite the acquired taste, gaudy as they seem, but the sell-out of every issue of this series means there are plenty of collectors interested in the subject, and when they’re done on a coin as well as this, it’s easy to see why.

1,000 Tögrög (Mongolia) 62.2 g 0.999 silver 38.61 mm Proof w/colour 888

PORTRAIT OF DR. GACHET by Vincent van Gogh (PMC)

We’ve long espoused the benefits of copper-cored coins issued by Singaporean producer, Precious Metal Collectors. Encasing a large chunk of the cheaper metal in a small amount of silver, has given them the ability to offer huge, high-relief, precious metal coins at significantly more affordable prices, and they’ve been very inventive in using those benefits to release some stunning coins. Their art series is one of the less ambitious uses of that process, but also one of the best. This coin, and the pair below, contain the same two ounces of silver as those above, but it’s a gigantic 110 x 145 mm in size. These aren’t wafer-thin either, but chunky beasts 2-4 times thicker than the others here.

Van Gogh’s ‘Portrait of Dr. Gachet has already been released in uncoloured form, and one we’ve actually had in hand. An imposing piece, greatly enhanced by a terrific obverse, it’s returned in coloured form (like Starry Night), which we’re guessing is how the series is going to be presented moving forward. Again, it shows the work off to its best, with well-chosen colour, and sympathetic relief. Another great issue.

10,000 CFA (Chad) 62.2 g 0.999 silver over 33.5 oz of 0.999 copper 110 x 145 mm Antique w/colour & gilding 500

SALVATOR MUNDI by Leonardo da Vinci (PMC)

The last of this pair of PMC coins in their ‘Bi-metal Max’ format, is, in our view at least, the weakest. The Salvator Mundi has garnered staggering press since it’s purchase by Prince Badr bin Abdullah for a simply ridiculous amount of money ($450m USD !!!), and simultaneously highlighted what a corrupt mess the art market is (honestly, check out some YouTube videos on it, it’s quite appalling). It’s an obvious subject for a coin, given that price and the alleged painter, but not a particularly aesthetically pleasing work, regardless.

We’re also not keen on the gilded frame, nor the coloured obverse, which flips the orientation, and has no real focal point. The painting itself is excellently realised, however, so no complaints on the way that’s been done. We’re sure it will find fans, but there are so many more worthy works out there, crying out for attention, that we’d rather see PMC expend their energy there, instead. Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’, for example, Frans Hals ‘The Laughing Cavalier’, or Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’.

10,000 CFA (Chad) 62.2 g 0.999 silver over 33.5 oz of 0.999 copper 110 x 145 mm Antique w/colour & gilding 888

PORTRAIT OF A LADY by Gustav Klimt (PMC)

This coin, is the same gigantic 110 x 145 mm in size as the pair above, but eschews the two-ounces of silver for a simpler silver plating instead, so essentially this is a copper coin of 33.5 ounces in weight. All the benefits of the above, at least as far as aesthetics goes, but at an even keener price.

The choice of art on this new coin is unusual in that most go with one of Klimt’s garish gold-coloured works. Here we have something altogether more restrained, but the way it’s been reproduced is quite sublime. Relief has been used to enhance the paint strokes to such a degree, that it actually looks like a thick application of oil paint. The colour is gorgeously rich, and there’s been no attempt to tack a frame onto the reverse, thankfully. Beautifully packaged, this is one the fine art fan will absolutely adore, we’re sure.

10,000 CFA (Chad) 33.5 oz of 0.999 copper 110 x 145 mm Antique silver w/colour 500