Nine divine women – the Muses – and the god Apollo, dance around Mint XXI’s latest impressive silver coin

The god of archery, poetry, healing, prophecy and music, Apollo was the son of Zeus, and twin to Artemis, the huntress. He was also the companion of the Nine Muses, divine women who epitomised much of Apollo’s character – his patronage of music, mathematics, and poetry, for example. The Muses are described as inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts from Ancient Greek culture, and are said to be the very embodiment of literature, science and the arts.

Like much in the Greek world from the period, the Muses have also inspired art throughout the centuries, which in turn has gone on to inspire coins like this one. John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), was born in Florence to American parents, spending almost his entire life in Europe. Amongst his almost 3,000 works was an oil on canvas painted in 1916 for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where it remains to this day, as one of the paintings installed in the rotunda there in 1921.

Depicting Apollo, lyre in hand, surrounded by the nine dancing Muses, it brought to life the relationship between these divine beings. What Mint XXI has done, is take the basic layout of the art, and superimpose it on a beautiful Eden-like background scene, as if they were dancing in an idyllic Olympian environment. It’s a gorgeous piece, and the changes make the transition from oval original, to circular coin, look completely natural. There’s high-relief, of course, but also well-defined detail. It’s all very classic looking, fitting in nicely with the current trend for harking back to the classics.

The obverse is simple, but similarly very classy. As part of their ‘Celestial Beauty’ series, it keeps a stylised border, in this case of the Greek style, which surrounds a beautifully rendered element. Previous issues have included a seashell (Birth of Venus), a Wheel of Fortune (Fortuna) and roses (Three Graces), but in this case it’s a wreath-like sprig of leaves, possibly headwear.

This coin does differ from previous issues, however, by making the jump from 2 oz to 5 oz in weight. That does allow the coin to keep all of its high-relief, yet spread it out over a spacious 65 mm diameter canvas, but it does bring with it a €600 price tag. It’s all boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, of course, and has a mintage of 500 pieces. An attractive release, very much in the style of the moment. Available to order now, it should ship around the end of May.


CALLIOPE: She presided over eloquence and epic poetry. She was known as the ‘Chief of all the Muses’ and her name means ‘beautiful voice’.

CLIO: Is the muse of history, and also of lyre-playing. Her name was used for the car credited with turning around Renault’s fortunes.

EUTERPE: The muse most associated with music, later also including lyric poetry. Generally depicted surrounded by instruments.

ERATO: Said to be the protector of love and weddings, she is often seen with Eros, also carrying a bow and arrows.

MELPOMENE: She invented, and protected tragedy, and was a champion of rhetoric speech. She was the mother of mermaids.

POLYHYMNIA: Creator of the lyre, she is the muse of sacred hymns and poetry, harmony, and even agriculture. Said to have invented geometry and grammar.

THALIA: She presided over the realms of comedy, and poetry, especially that about the natural world.

TERPSICHORE: The muse of dance, often depicted with a lyre and a crown of flowers. She is the mother of Sirens, who seduced sailors with song.

URANIA: The protector of the stars and other celestial bodies, she was said to be the eldest muse, and could foretell the future by the position of the stars.

DENOMINATION 5,000 Francs CFA (Cameroon)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 155.5 grams
FINISH Antique
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes