Mint of Poland debuts a new mythology series based around the Twelve labours of Hercules

The Mint of Poland is adding to its quite sublime selection of ancient mythology coin ranges with a new series chronicling the fabled twelve labours of the Greek divine hero, Hercules. One of the most widely known tales of the ancient world, they have propelled Hercules into becoming one of the greatest characters in all of mythology – the perfect subject for a coin series, especially with this genre being so popular at present.

This is an early look and we’ll revist the coin as digital renders become available in a few weeks time and finally the finished article ships around the end of May, but already you can see the potential here. Like some of the other recent series from the Mint of Poland, this will be an antique-finished, two-ounce silver coin that’s been struck to a high relief without a rim. It’s fair to say that this is a format with a superb track record of quality releases, and across several themes.

The first of the twelve coins in this series – currently planned to be released at the rate of two per year – is the Nemean Lion. While the stories attributed to this tale are somewhat fragmentary and hard to pin down, there is a generally accepted chronology to the twelve tasks and the slaying of the Nemean Lion is the first one. We’ve listed them out in order further down and it’s likely the following coins will come in that order, especially as that sequence is also followed on the obverse. The reverse face depicts Hercules in battle with the beast in a small valley and our first impressions are that this will look excellent on the finished article. The lions head is picked out with gilding and just the coin title is inscribed here, thus keeping the design unencumbered by distracting details.

The obverse will remain common throughout the series and as a Niue issue it has the Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II at its centre. A title border surrounds this and on the other side of that are twelve small cameo images – one for each labour. The one featured on each coin will also be picked out with gilding. The coin serial number is engraved into the edge and will match the enclosed certificate of authenticity. All is presented in a wooden box with a themed shipper sleeve. Just 500 will be minted.

As we said, this is an early look, but we’re reassured by the mints track record of issuing sketches and renders at this stage, which then go on to be realised as quite superb physical coins. Such examples as Ares, Hades and Spartacus, to name just a few recent examples. This looks to be a promising debut to a fascinating series and we look forward to seeing the finished article. This one is being exclusively distributed by two dealers, Coin Shoppe in Canada and Magikos Coins in Poland and it will no doubt be available at all the usual dealers from there. One to watch out for.


Hercules was married to Megara, the daughter of King Kreo of Thebes, and together they had five children. Unfortunately, the goddess Hera drove Hercules insane in a fit of jealousy and he killed his wife and children.

Driven mad by Hera (queen of the gods), Hercules slew his son, daughter, and wife Megara. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his actions; he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, advised him to go to Tiryns and serve his cousin King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing whatever labours Eurystheus might set him; in return, he would be rewarded with immortality. Hercules despaired at this, loathing to serve a man whom he knew to be far inferior to himself, yet fearing to oppose his father Zeus. Eventually, he placed himself at Eurystheus’s disposal.

Eurystheus originally ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to recognize two: the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules’ nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him; and the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules accepted payment for the labour. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules also performed, bringing the total number of tasks to twelve.

01 – Slay the Nemean lion.

02 – Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.

03 – Capture the Ceryneian Hind.

04 – Capture the Erymanthian Boar.

05 – Clean the Augean stables in a single day.

06 – Slay the Stymphalian birds.

07 – Capture the Cretan Bull.

08 – Steal the Mares of Diomedes.

09 – Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta.

10 – Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.

11 – Steal the apples of the Hesperides.

12 – Capture and bring back Cerberus.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIAMETER 45.00 mm
FINISH Antique
BOX / COA Yes / Yes (also on coin rim)