Mythical Dragons 2oz silver coin series kicks off with the Red Dragon of the Britons
Despite predominantly sticking with licenced properties these days, like Disney and Star Wars, the New Zealand Mint does keep some nice regular series on the go at the same time. Done in the style of their Warriors of History and Battles That Changed History ranges of silver coins, the mint’s latest series leaves factual history behind and saunters off into the popular numismatic subject of mythology.
Called Mythical Dragons, this series will showcase some of the legendary creatures that have been so pervasive with their presence through the lore of so many old cultures and civilisations. It’s been speculated that dragons have appeared in the legends of so many cultures through the discovery and faulty attribution of fossils to these creatures. It’s very easy to see a Protoceratops skull, or a Megalodon tooth, or a raptor claw and believe they must have come from some fantastic behemoth . We know better now, but back then, legends were born.
The first of them is the Red Dragon. Now proudly sitting on the Welsh flag, it’s first literary association with Wales was in the Historia Brittonum, written around AD 829. Said to have been King Arthur’s battle standard, the dragon was also used by the English Tudor monarchs in their coat-of-arms. Even as recently as today, the Red Dragon has a place in the heraldry of the British Isles, and is one of the Queen’s Beasts.
The coin weighs in at two-ounces of 0.999 silver and is antique finished. Like the aforementioned series, the reverse face has an element of the artwork picked out in some good quality colouring. In this case, and for obvious reasons, it’s the dragon that gets the treatment. The background artwork is kept seperate from the dragons with a clear delineation – a marked change from he Warriors and the Battles series. The obverse is a pretty standard one, with just the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II surroundeded by coin spec inscriptions.
Packaging looks great. We like the little book-style boxes this mint has used before and the one used here looks better than ever, having a medieval leather-bound look. Just 2,000 of these will be minted and each comes supplied with a serialised certificate of authenticity. Available now.
The dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there. Every night the castle walls and foundations are demolished by unseen forces. Vortigern consults his advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father, and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy (who is later, in some tellings, to become Merlin) who is supposed to be the wisest wizard ever to live. On hearing that he is to be put to death to end the demolition of the walls, the boy is dismissive of the advice, and tells the king about the two dragons. Vortigern excavates the hill, freeing the dragons. They continue their fight and the red dragon finally defeats the white dragon. The boy tells Vortigern that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons and that the red dragon symbolises the people of Vortigern. If Vortigern is accepted to have lived in the 5th century, then these people are the British whom the Saxons failed to subdue and who became the Welsh.
The same story is repeated in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, where the red dragon is also a prophecy of the coming of King Arthur. Note that Arthur’s father was named Uther Pendragon (‘Pendragon’: ‘Pen’ (Head) and ‘Dragon’, being translated by Geoffrey as “dragon’s head”). (Source: Wikipedia)
|DENOMINATION||$5 New Zealand (Niue)|
|BOX / COA||Yes / Yes|
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