One of the best small series of 2019 was the Czech Mint’s outstanding Inventions of Leonardo. Four one-ounce silver coins portrayed some of the Renaissance masters incredibly forward looking inventions associated with flight and with blowing things up. This year has already seen a similar set, in gold as well, that focused on Notre Dame Cathedral, although that was sold only as a complete set. The mint has returned in 2020 with another set to be issued one at a time.

The nineteenth century was an age of wonder. The rise of industry and the wealth that came with it was a fertile breeding ground for many inspirational minds to bring innovative ideas to reality. This new series of 1oz silver coins looks at four of the most brilliant. Out now are a pair of rivals, one a gifted inventor, the other a man equally gifted in laying the fertile ground for invention, and of bringing it to market. Both are household names even today.

Tesla and Edison are as recognisable today as then, so their inclusion here was an obvious one. Coming in July will be Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and the father of the annual prizes, and September rounds out the set with Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the practical telephone. All told, a fine choice of individuals for this fascinating subject. But what of the coins themselves?

Each features a portrait, a name, and pictures of their most iconic inventions. They’re cleanly struck to a proof standard, so thankfully devoid of colour. Edison is shown with his phonograph, and Tesla with his striking Wardenclyff Tower, designed to wirelessly transmit power, but generally more widely known for looking cool… The common obverse incorporates the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II with a selection of images showing various inventions of the quartet, Each coin comes neatly packaged in a very small box with a certificate, but most will want to pick up the themed tin that holds all four coins, and comes with a card filled with their portraits and signatures. We’re huge fans of these and wish more mints did something similar, especially when you consider they only cost €9.00 each. The first two coins are available to order now for €63.30 each.


EDISON: The Czech Mint introduced Thomas Alva Edison as the first inventor on the silver coin from Genius Series of the 19th century. The man who lit the world and filled it with music has received over a thousand patents in his life. He was a great businessman and built his own empire unlike his contemporaries who ended up in oblivion.

Edison was constantly underestimated. When he was born, the doctor was convinced he would not survive, and when he started going to school, the teacher considered him a fool. But Edison was extremely inquiring and enterprising. He liked experimenting with chemicals and published his own newspaper when he was just 14 years old. He made his editorial office in a railway carriage at the station to be at the source of the information. However, the wagon was destroyed by fire during one of his chemical experiments and the conductor beaten him that he became almost deaf for the rest of his life. The newspaper was over, but Edison met a telegraph at the station. He became a telegraphist and became interested in electricity. Soon he came up with his first invention – an electronic voting machine. Other revolutionary patents followed.

It is an paradox that almost deaf Edison invented the first sound recorder – a phonograph – and also a carbon microphone without which phone of the A.G. Bella would never have succeeded. Despite popular belief, Edison did not invent the bulb, but improved it that it lasted for fifty hours, and even a thousand hours a year later. This was followed by a dynamo, then a first power station, a cinematograph… Critics say that Edison appropriated the credit of inventors working in the laboratories and plants he built. But the reality is that these hard workers would have probably never realized their ideas without Edison’s resources. Edison divided the development process into sub-tasks performed by many people. Edison’s assistants had a stable financial background and could continue experimenting because more patents were created in the same time. Though Edison was far from a flawless man, he was respected, which was evidenced by the fact that all the bulbs in America went out on the day of his funeral…

TESLA: Lightning crossed the sky above the Serbian village when Nikola Tesla was born. The midwife claimed that this was a bad sign, but she had no idea that she had just helped to bring the “lord of lightning” to the beginning of the true electrification of the world. Nikola studied mathematics and physics, researched electricity, and discovered the principle of alternating current. He worked in the Edison´s company, and when he traveled to America, he believed that his colleague would appreciate and support his discovery. But Edison did the opposite and swept the efficient system aside. His living was in danger because Edison’s power plants, power grids, and motors were using direct current. Thus began the famous “war of the currents”. Edison claimed that alternating current was too dangerous – he did not hesitate to kill an elephant during the demonstration and thus involuntarily invented an electric chair. Tesla was convinced that there were fewer losses in the grid when alternating current power was transferred and that motors powered by alternating current were simpler and cheaper in construction.

In the end, his system, which we use today, has become the standard. However, Edison was not the only inventor who disputed with Tesla in the 19th century. Every schoolboy tells you that the radio was invented by Guglielmo Marconi. However, Nikola Tesla patented the same invention a few years earlier and was therefore sued for years with an Italian who won the Nobel Prize for wireless transmission and became fabulously rich. Justice was done a year after Tesla’s death, when the US Supreme Court declared Marconi’s patents invalid and assigned radio authorship to a brilliant Serb. The eccentric Tesla paid for not being a practical person. He was full of ideas but could not invent their practical use. He had not even patented a lot of groundbreaking ideas, and he was already doing something else, even more fantastic – for example, he had discovered X-rays before roentgen rays when photographing Mark Twain. He died poor and misunderstood… As his entire estate was confiscated by the CIA, we will probably never know if he truly caused the Tungus catastrophe, created rays of death, or stood behind the Philadelphia experiment. But his brilliance is undisputed. When Albert Einstein was asked to feel to be the smartest person on Earth, he said, “I don’t know, ask Nikola Tesla.”

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
MINTAGE 1,000 per design
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes (and optional set tin)