A new series debut from Auckland-based New Zealand Mint launches today and represents a departure from their usual fare. At two ounces in weight and struck in high-relief with an antique finish, it’s unlike any of this mints other recent releases which tend towards the proof and the coloured one-ounce silver. Ostensibly similar in specification to the Perth Mints superb Gods of Olympus series, the implementation is fundamentally different in nature.

Depicting a scene of Marco Polo meeting Kublai Khan in a Mongol palace, the style is very much biased towards the realistic rather than the stylistic nature of the Olympus coins. The overall design is quite similar in nature to one of my own favourite ranges of coins, the History of the Crusades by Dutch producer Numiscollect for which we have a Coin Series Profile up. The images below are of an early sample coin and we don’t have any pictures of the antiqued obverse yet, but they give a good idea at what the finished item will look like. Slated to retail at $145.00 USD, it’s a great looking package with a return to the innovative presentation that was always a hallmark of the New Zealand Mints commemorative coins. A cool timber chest in a drawstring sack seems perfectly in keeping with the story of the Venetian merchant and explorer.


Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) was an Italian merchant traveller from Venice, who recorded his travels in Livres des Merveilles du Monde (Book of the Marvels of the World, also known as The Travels of Marco Polo). This account did much to introduce Europe to Central Asia and Chinese culture.

Marco Polo learned the mercantile trade from his father and uncle, who travelled through Asia and met Kublai Khan. In 1271, the three embarked on a journey which would lead to 17 years spent in China. From his travels, Polo amassed great knowledge of the Mongol Empire. He marvelled at the use of paper money, and was in awe of its economy and scale of production.

Soon after returning to Venice in 1295, war broke out with the rival city of Genoa. While in command of a ship, Polo was captured and imprisoned. It was during this period of time that he dictated stories of his travels to a cellmate. In 1299 he was released, and went on to become a wealthy merchant. While his writings were published in French, Italian, and Latin, few readers allowed themselves to believe his tales of strange lands far away.

Although he was not the first European to reach China, Marco Polo’s detailed account of his experiences was ground breaking for its time. These writings went on to inspire Christopher Columbus and many other travellers. In the centuries since his death Marco Polo has received recognition that was not given during his life time, as much of his journey of discovery has been verified.

DESIGN: This beautiful fully engraved, high-relief coin has an antique finish. The illustration shows the moment of Marco Polo meeting the great Kublai Khan. This scene is set in a stronghold of the powerful Mongol Empire which Polo marvelled so much at discovering.

This features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

PACKAGING: This Marco Polo 2 oz Silver Coin marks the first release in our new Journeys of Discovery Coin Collection. Each release will be presented in a timber treasure chest with a uniquely numbered certificate of authenticity. This in turn will be packed in a protective draw string sack, modelled on those used to transport materials to trade around the globe on great Journeys of Discovery throughout history.




$5 NIUE 0.999 SILVER 62.2 g 40.0 mm ANTIQUE 2,000 YES / YES