One of the more unusual items to grace a coin in recent years has been the Royal Canadian Mint’s use of Murano glass to adorn a small range of sought after nature coins. Taking the form of a small hand-crafted glass animal on top of a coin designed to show the environment of the animal represented, they’ve proven extremely popular, with early coins selling for many multiples of the issue price.

It now looks like glass from the Venetian island of Murano is gaining in popularity with the release of both a new coin from fan favourite Coin Invest Trust (CIT), and the first in a new series from innovative German producer, Numiscom. The former are most recognised for their striking Tiffany Art and Mongolian Nature series, while the latter are familiar to collectors through their Nature’s Eyes and Elements of Life coins. Both are well presented and limited to just 999 pieces, but there are some fundamental differences.

CIT have gone the Millefiori (Italian ‘1,000 flowers’) route, a technique comprising scores of small glass discs being slowly melted in a mould to form the required shape, which is then set into a silver coin. Despite being only 20 grams in weight, the final coin has a diameter of 65mm, huge for this weight. Because of the nature of this process, every single coin is quite unique. If the coin is popular, we could see this becoming a series, but at the moment, there’s no indication if this is a one-off or not. The coin incorporates CIT/Bayer’s SeQrySign marking to help prevent counterfeiting.

Numiscom have gone with a heavier two-ounce (62.2g) silver coin formed into a circle. Inside this is a window of coloured glass onto which is drawn the bust portrait of a woman. Again, each coin will be completely unique because of the production methods used. Our images below were handheld in dim lighting, so don’t show the coin at its very best, but in the flesh it’s a striking piece. It’s also the first of a five-coin series to be released one per year. Numiscom have taken the excellent decision to sell the coin in what they call a levitation frame, but what we all know as a Nimbus frame. With just the smallest amount of backlighting, these frames allow the window to be seen to best effect.

The CIT effort should be available in March and pre-order prices seem to be around the €130-150 mark, while Numiscom’s coin has yet to get a price or released date.

UPDATE: NEW VETRO DI MURANO IMAGES

MURRINE MILLEFIORI (CIT)

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The glass processing technique Millefiori was already known in Ancient Rome and is nowadays mainly continued on the island of Murano near Venice.

Firstly long glass rods, known as murrine, are handmade, cured and then cut into discs. After that the individual multi-coloured glass discs are placed into a mould, heated gently and slowly melted.

Thus, unique Patterns emerge, of which no two are alike. The finished artwork explains without words why Millefiori means «thousand flowers» in Italian.

VETRO DI MURANO (NUMISCOM)

MINTS DESCRIPTION

Combining the amazing craftsmanship of Murano glass blowers and highest minting techniques, we are more than proud to present you the most luxurious and most beautiful coin series of the last years!

After months of hard work we found a glass blower who is capable of not only producing stunning glass, but is also a master of old and long forgotten techniques!

Not only will every issue be different, but more important, each and every coin is one of a kind! Not two glasses are identical because of the complex handicraft.

SPECIFICATION
COIN INVEST TRUST MINT NUMISCOM
$5 COOK ISLANDS DENOMINATION 1,000 FRANCS (CONGO)
0.999 SILVER COMPOSITION 0.999 SILVER
20.0 g (SILVER) WEIGHT 62.2 g (SILVER)
65.0 mm SIZE 55.0 mm
PROOF FINISH PROOF
999 MINTAGE 999
YES / YES BOX / COA FRAME / YES

MURANO GLASS

Made on the Venetian island that bears its name, Murano glassmakers have been at the forefront of European glass technology for many centuries, and have developed or refined multiple methods including crystalline glass, enamelled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass.

Located 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the main city Venice, Italy, Murano has been a commercial port since as far back as the 7th century. It is believed that glassmaking in Murano originated in 8th-century Rome, with significant Asian and Muslim influences, as Venice was a major trading port. Murano glass is similar to the 1st-century BC Greek glasses found then shipwreck of Antikythera. Murano’s reputation as a centre for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano glass is the largest proportion of Venetian glass.

Murano’s glasssmakers were soon the island’s most prominent citizens. By the 14th century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state, and their daughters permitted to marry into Venice’s most affluent families. However glassmakers were not allowed to leave the Republic. Exportation of a professional secret was punished by death. Many craftsmen took this risk and set up glass furnaces in surrounding cities and as far afield as England and the Netherlands. By the end of the 16th century, three thousand of Murano island’s seven thousand inhabitants were involved in some way in the glassmaking industry.

Because of competition from Asian and Eastern European imitations, as well as changing consumer taste, the number of glassmakers on the island has declined from 6,000 to around 1,000 over the last 25 years. It remains a large industry, however, and the artisans on Murano still hand craft everything from contemporary art glass and glass figurines to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers, as well as tourist souvenirs.

The Murano glass is made up of 70% silica sand, added to 30% of other substances called “fluxes” and “stabilizers” (soda and lime). These added “fluxes” allows the glass to be melted at a lower temperature, and the “stabilizers” prevent the glass’s solubility in water. When the glass melts at a lower temperature, it is possible to create homogeneous and bubble free Murano glass.The Murano glass in its basic composition is colourless. The colours are obtained by adding small amounts of minerals, oxides, and chemical derivatives to the base composition of the glass powder. This is the Murano magic that creates infinite combinations of transparent colours, crayons and alabasters.

(Source: Wikipedia)

ONE OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN MINTS MURANO GLASS COINS