After last years superb Thors Hammer coin, Numiscollect choose Aegis, the Shield of Athena for 2018

The second of Dutch coin producer Numiscollect’s new ancient mythology coins is a different beast to the Chimera coin we covered last week. Whereas that was the first in a new series featuring the animals of mythology, this is the second coin in the Mythology series that showcases legendary artifacts from the ancient world. The first coin debuted a year ago and was a superb representation of Mjolnir, the Norse god Thor’s hammer. We were particularly impressed by that coins early look at just how impressively smartminting can maintain detail on the sides of the ultra high relief elements of the strike.

This years sees the launch of Aegis, the Shield of Athena. As far as specification goes it’s a pretty standard affair, matching the Chimera coin and so many other ancient mythology coins in being struck in two ounces of fine silver with an ultra-high relief design. What sorts the good from the brilliant in this market is design, and Numiscollects latest coin doesn’t fail in that department.

The reverse face depicts the legenary shield, resplendent with the severed head of a gorgon, behind which is the figure of the Greek goddess Athena in a ruined temple setting. It’s a beautiful piece, one we like much more than the earlier Chimera coin, but the real star is the detail inherent in the strike. There’s hardly a square mm of this face that isn’t packed with it. Even the open mouth of the gorgon, usually something coin designers tend to avoid, is perfectly done. Just some light inscriptions with the coin name are present.

The obverse is a typical Cook Islands affair – just the effigy of Queen Elizabeth and the surrounding coin issue details, although this side is also antique-finished. The diameter is the standard 38.61 mm that is typical of one-ounce coins, so the extra weight has gone completely to high-relief. We like this one and it joins such coins as Choice Mint’s Ymir, Numiartis’ Minotaur and Numicollects own Quetzalcoatl as highlights of the genre this year. We’ve said this before, but the standard of quality of coins with this theme is incredibly high and doesn’t look like dropping anytime soon. Shipping around March/April next year, the coin will come in a box with a c.o.a. and can be preordered now for around €200.



According to Homer’s iconic story, The Iliad, the Aegis is a shield or an animal skin carried by the goddess Athena or the god Zeus in battle. It was said that “It produced a sound as from a myriad roaring dragons (Iliad, 4.17) and was borne by Athena in battle … and among them went bright-eyed Athene, holding the precious aegis which is ageless and immortal: a hundred tassels of pure gold hang fluttering from it, tight-woven each of them, and each the worth of a hundred oxen.” The shield was sometimes said to carry the head of a Gorgon, one of the snake-haired creatures like the infamous Medusa, whose gazed could turn men to stone.

Grown from Greek mythology, the legend of the Aegis was picked up by the Romans and has entered popular culture even today. The Ancient Roman poet Virgil had the Cyclopes working on the shield and described it as “a fearsome thing with a surface of gold like scaly snake-skin, and the linked serpents and the Gorgon herself upon the goddess’s breast—a severed head rolling its eyes”

In some pottery it appears as a tasselled cover over Athena’s dress. It is sometimes represented on the statues of Roman emperors, heroes, and warriors, and on cameos and vases. A vestige of that appears in a portrait of Alexander the Great in a fresco from Pompeii dated to the first century BC, which shows the image of the head of a woman on his armor that resembles the Gorgon.

There have been numerous interpretations and variations on the story of the Aegis throughout ancient writings.


DENOMINATION $10 Cook Islands
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIAMETER 38.61 mm
FINISH Antique
BOX / COA Yes / Yes