Mint21 join the 500th anniversary commemorations of Leonardo da Vinci with a fine new silver coin

Five hundred years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci is as potent a force in the worlds of art and engineering as he has always been. While science and technology has moved well beyond the Renaissance world of Leonardo, it does nothing to diminish the mans innovative genius. This first in series issue from Mint21 however, focuses on his legendary artistic output.

There are many examples of his art that have easily passed into true iconic status. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, for example, or his The Last Supper painting with its early use of perspective. The Vitruvian Man is another work that would sit at the top of any other artists portfolio, but for Leonardo, even that work takes a back seat to that cultural tour de force, the Mona Lisa.

Not the first time this painted portrait from 1503 has appeared on a coin, Mint 21’s new effort is definitely one of the best representations we’ve seen. Filling the reverse face of this 2oz, 50mm diameter silver coin is the bulk of the painting, but off to the right is a high-relief profile portrait of the artist himself. It’s a fundamentally simple design, but also a perfectly realised one. Devoid of unnecessary design elements, it shows the artist and his work in harmony.

The obverse one will likely be a common one to the series, and while issued for Ghana, it remains one that features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, as the mints Niue issues do. There are various geometric patterns in the background, but the key one is the spiral one that sits alongside the Queens effigy. This is a nod to Da Vinci’s use of the Golden Ratio, also called the Divine Proportion, a mathematical principle that can be applied to art and is found in nature.

A very nice addition to the Leonardo commemorations this year and we look forward to seeing what else is coming in this series, especially given the sheer quality of the source material. A box and C.O.A. come with the coin, of course, and it should be available to pre-order any time now.


Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, 15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519), was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank, his genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

Leonardo was, and is, renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro coin, textbooks, and T-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings have survived. Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.

Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised flying machines, a type of armoured fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull, also outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, as the modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.

Today, Leonardo is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived.

DENOMINATION 10 Cedis (Ghana)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, colour
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes