In our view, one of the best of last years meteorite coins was the excellent Solar System:Moon coin from the Mint of Poland and they made no secret of the fact it was to be the first coin in a new series. This year sees the second in the series to be launched and it’s heading sunwards to one of the most enigmatic bodies in our solar system, Mercury. Like the Moon coin, this one is a truly domed strike, still a relatively uncommon strike in the numismatic world because of the difficulty of maintaining the integrity of todays complex and detailed designs while bending a coin to this shape.

Apart from the impact crater on the reverse side, in which sits an actual piece of the meteorite NWA8409, the coin isn’t a high-relief design, going instead for some fine detailing of the Mercury planet surface instead. While last years coin was antique-finished, this years is coloured or gilded, we’re not sure yet, and then antiqued. The end result looks great with minimal and unobtrusive inscriptions on the reverse face in particular. The reverse face is the convex one, meant to represent the planetary surface – on many of this genre of coins the reverse face is convex to suggest the impact crater of the meteorite fragment that almost invariably sits there.

The obverse face carries on the theme with surface detailing and the obligatory effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, a requirement of Niue-issued numismatics. Presented in a good quality wooden box, inside which is a Certificate of Authenticity, the whole makes a nice package. The next coins due are one for Mars next year, followed by one for Earth in 2018 so it does look like this is shaping up to be a fine, coherent set of very high quality coins. Priced around the €150 mark, they’re not as expensive as many of the new breed either, as we have noticed a trend towards more weight and less mintage with this type of coin, the mintage in this case remaining at an odd 686 pieces.

Other coins from the Mint of Poland in a similar vein are the Canyon Diablo/Wolfe Creek range and the superb Erte Ale volcano coin. MCI-Mint in Germany have released very similar Moon and Mercury coins to this Mint of Poland pair, but those are five ounces in weight and considerably more expensive. Others also have entrants in the genre, so choice is plentiful, even if getting them all would lighten the bank balance considerably. Many of these do appreciate however, some early Cook Islands coins from 2009 approaching 8-10 times the issue price for example. Available to pre-order now, the coin will ship in mid-May

MERCURY

Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and the one closest to the Sun, with an orbital period of about 88 Earth days, which is much faster than any other planet in the Solar System. Seen from Earth, it appears to move around its orbit in about 116 days. It has no known natural satellites. It is named after the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger to the gods.

Partly because it has almost no atmosphere to retain heat, Mercury’s surface temperature varies diurnally more than any other planet in the Solar System, ranging from 100 K (−173 °C; −280 °F) at night to 700 K (427 °C; 800 °F) during the day in some equatorial regions. The poles are constantly below 180 K (−93 °C; −136 °F). Mercury’s axis has the smallest tilt of any of the Solar System’s planets (about 1⁄30 of a degree). However, Mercury’s orbital eccentricity is the largest of all known planets in the Solar System. At aphelion, Mercury is about 1.5 times as far from the Sun as it is at perihelion. Mercury’s surface is heavily cratered and similar in appearance to the Moon, indicating that it has been geologically inactive for billions of years.

Mercury is tidally or gravitationally locked with the Sun in a 3:2 resonance, and rotates in a way that is unique in the Solar System. As seen relative to the fixed stars, it rotates on its axis exactly three times for every two revolutions it makes around the Sun. As seen from the Sun, in a frame of reference that rotates with the orbital motion, it appears to rotate only once every two Mercurian years. An observer on Mercury would therefore see only one day every two years. Two spacecraft have visited Mercury: Mariner 10 flew by in the 1970s; and MESSENGER, launched in 2004, orbited Mercury over 4,000 times in four years, before exhausting its fuel and crashing into the planet’s surface on April 30, 2015. (Source: Wikipedia)

 METEORITE NWA 8409

North West Africa 8409 is the provisional name given to a mass of meteorites found in Morocco in 2013, and weighing just over 430g in weight. It’s very possible that it is part of another meteorite with the official designation North West Africa 7325 and as such is completely unique on Earth to date.

As we said when we featured MCI’s mercury meteorite coin, the meteorite is an achondrite, a type that only comes from planets or large asteroids, and its composition strongly indicates its origin as being Mercury, a comparison possible because of the excellent work being done by the Messenger spacecraft, currently orbiting the planet closest to the Sun. Some recent scientific papers are questioning this, mainly because the meteorites staggering age of 4.56 Billion years would put it around the formation of Mercury itself, a tumultuous time of which the meteorite shows little damage, but even those aren’t ruling its origin out.

Quite a pricey piece of rock, that’s quite understandable given its potential origin and obvious rarity. The general concensus seems to be that NWA 8409 is indeed a part of the same meteorite as NWA 7325 and that’s why its name is classified as provisional. NWA 8014 is in a similar position and is also generally associated with the NWA 7325. The former weighed in at 210g and the latter at 345g.

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$1 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 38.61 mm ANTIQUE 686 YES / YES
MINT OF POLAND