One of the most popular modern coin series around, the Austrian Mints Niobium series has won much acclaim over the years for its design and innovative use of the metal, Niobium. Since used in issues from Canada and Luxembourg, the technique is still quite rare in numismatic circles. Interestingly, Niobium isn’t alone in its properties. Another of the transition metals and one sitting right below Niobium in the periodic table, is the metal Tantalum.
Tantalum was named after the Greek uber-villian Tantalus (niobium is named after his daughter, Niobe) and has many similar uses to Niobium, but is around twice the density. It also retains the other metals ability to hold a colour during processing and that’s exactly what has attracted Kazakhstan to its use on their new Well Being Coin.
This new issue has a total combined weight of almost 40 grams and that’s divided pretty equally between an outer sterling silver ring and an inner tantalum pill. The silver outer is mostly circular, but has two indents meant to replicate mounting points for hinges on a medallion. It’s also a perfect shape to hold the plan image of the turtle in the centre. The turtle shell is formed entirely from coloured tantalum and is a quite superb match for one. Full of symbolism and surrounded by inscriptions, the design works very well.
The obverse carries on the theme with the tantalum pill depicting the underside of the shell, inscribed with some tracery and the denomination. More inscriptions surround it, although the underside of the turtles body is absent.
Just 2,500 of these will be struck (although we’ve seen one claim that the mintage will be curtailed at 1,500 pieces, yet unverified) and the coin comes boxed and with a certificate of authenticity. We like this one a lot. It seems to showcase a culture not well known in numismatic circles and does so with great skill. Lovers of the popular Niobium Series coins will find much to like here, with the use of the insert being raised to a higher level. Price on these is hard to pin down, although we’ve seen them at a German dealer for €130, but it looks to be a coin worth tracking down.