Niue and PiK Coins debut an atmospheric Al Capone silver coin to launch the new ‘Gangsters’ series

Murder, extortion, bootlegging, prostitution, bribery, and tax evasion – the life of a gangster is a busy one. Nobody epitomises that more than the classic mobster, Alphonse Gabriel Capone, more popularly known as Al. Born in New York City in 1899, Capone joined the Five Points Gang at an early age, working as a bouncer in brothels, but it wasn’t long before he headed off to Chicago with a promotion. Becoming the bodyguard to Johnny Torrio, head of a bootlegging syndicate, he was in the perfect position to take over when Torrio retired after a close assassination attempt.

Capone rose to the challenge, expanding the business, and becoming a celebrity in the process, mixing with the politicians and musicians of the time, coming to be seen as a modern-day Robin Hood. Whereas Robin Hood only had to deal with the Sheriff of Nottingham, Al came up with the meanest, nastiest, most powerful opponent of all time – the taxman… Convicted on five counts of tax evasion in 1931, he served eight years, but was already suffering from neurosyphilis on release, and became increasingly debilitated, dying in early 1947.

It’s surprising that the world of gangsters and true crime hasn’t been more widely used in the modern numismatic world. There was an Al Capone wanted poster coin issued in early 2015 as the start of a ‘Public Enemies’ series that didn’t proceed any further, but in general, very little presence – strange given how popular the genre is in other fields, and how influential Capone has been in popular culture.

Step forward, German-based dealer PiK Coins with a striking first release in a four-coin series called simply, ‘Gangsters’, and where better to start than the quintessential example of the breed, Al Capone. You’ll recognise the classic format from the images. The two-ounce, rimless, antique-finished, ultra-high-relief strike has become the darling of the coin world, having that perfect balance between relative affordability and allowing technical flexibility. It’s used to great effect here, with an excellent depiction of the gangster at work in the prohibition-era United States.

It’s a great scene with tons of cool touches. The car has nods to Capone’s bulletproof 1928 Cadillac V8 Town Car, the henchman carrying the famous Thompson submachine gun, and the bootlegging operation, but it’s the smug, swaggering depiction of Capone that lifts it up, complete with holstered revolver. The bullet hole that looks like it has torn through the coin is also a neat touch. A revolver puts in an appearance on the obverse as well, and in some style. Designed to replicate the cylinder from an eight-round gun, it’s filled with four gilded 9 mm rounds, and the bullet hole from the reverse is cleverly incorporated into the design as an open chamber. We’re not sure what the actual gun is, but no doubt one of our readers will know. It does look great, though.

Packaging looks to have just as much care and attention expended on it. It will be designed to ape the boxes used for smuggling alcohol and weapons during the Prohibition-era, and it will have four slots inside to hold the whole four-coin series, you can see it in the video. We wish more producers would do this. So much neater to have a single high-quality box to hold the entire series, rather than having multiple generic boxes. Each certificate has been themed to look like an appointment letter, so it will be interesting to see that. Available to pre-order shortly, this is a terrific debut for an intriguing new series.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, Gilding
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes