Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor of the tape cassette tape is celebrated on an unusual silver coin. Just don’t try to play it…

Who doesn’t remember their first Walkman cassette player? Well, anybody under the age of 25 for a start! In a time when you can fit 20,000 songs on a card tinier than your smallest fingernail, it’s hard to imagine the wonder of having an entire album on something as small as a cassette, particularly when carrying it around in your Sony Walkman.

It was invented by the Dutch electronics giant, Philips, back in 1963, and these small cassettes went on to become ubiquitous around the globe. There even remains a hardcore fanbase to this day, although not to the same level that vinyl records enjoy, mainly because the compact cassette was never about ultimate audio quality, preferring to focus on portability above all.

Heading the team of 10-12 workers was Lou Ottens, a Dutch engineer who spent his entire career at Philips, not only inventing the compact cassette, but also being heavily involved in the development of the Compact Disc. He passed away in 2021. This new coin marks a year since his death, which seems a bit soon, especially considering 2023 is the 60th anniversary of the cassette anyway, but there it is.

It’s a neat example of the current trend for shaped coins, aping the design of the cassette perfectly, although at 48.0 mm in width, it’s considerably smaller. The spools of tape inside the cassette window are a nice touch, and the reverse face carries the name of its inventor, and the dates of his life. The obverse carries on the theme in full, with a nice flourish of musical notation along the bottom, obviously before it had been mangled by the tape player’s mechanism…

You can see the packaging in the video below, and it looks good, having a display window for ease of viewing. It’s a two-ounce 0.999 silver coin, struck to a proof finish, and with a small 333 mintage. A clever design, full of many cool little touches throughout, bringing out that sense of nostalgia. However, not enough of one to give up the MP3 player! It should be available to order any time now.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 48.0 x 33.0 mm
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes