Niue and the Helvetic Mint start their Dark Beauties coin series with Cassandra, Princess of Troy

The Helvetic Mint are releasing a beautiful first coin in a new series called Dark Beauties that depicts the ancient prophetess, Cassandra. A staple of Ancient Greek mythology, Cassandra is  always described as being an intelligent, beautiful woman, desired by the god Apollo, so if you’re going to start a series called Dark Beauties, Cassandra is the perfect place to start.

From the images, there are echoes of the Monnaie de Paris series ‘Women of France’ with the rimless design, although there are no signs that the edge is unbound as they are in that superb French range. What these have that Women of France doesn’t is an impressive amount of high-relief, extending up to 1.3mm in height. While the images don’t show it too well, the hugely attractive image of the woman in profile with the detail-packed hair  looks like it will benefit from the definition imparted by a high-relief strike.

The work is by British artist Christopher Lovell, who has produced several works quite similar to this one and has an impressive portfolio. If his work is to be used for other coins in this series it will be one worth collecting for sure. The original piece of art used for Cassandra was called ‘9-Lives’ and a print of it can be purchased from Lovells’s website. It’s a fabulous piece of work.

The obverse of the coin is a simple Niue affair, no doubt well known to modern commemorative coin collectors around the world. The Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II sits in the centre and it’s surrounded by inscriptions detailing the date, denomination and issuer. We’ve yet to see images of the packaging yet, but it will come with a certificate of authenticity. Struck in 50 grams of fine silver of 50 mm diameter, the coin has what the Helvetic Mint is terming a ‘vintage print’. As this mint is quite expert at antique-finishing a coin and this isn’t described that way, we can assume this is a kind of digital colour application. It certainly looks the part in the images, with the subtle blue highlighting genuinely enhancing the finished article. Just 500 will be struck.


In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a princess of Troy, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba and the fraternal twin sister of Helenus. According to legend, Cassandra had dark brown curly hair and dark brown eyes, and was both beautiful and clever, but considered insane. Cassandra was cursed to utter prophecies which were true but which no one believed.

A common version of her story relates how, in an effort to seduce her, Apollo gave her the power of prophecy. When she refused him, he spat into her mouth to inflict a curse that nobody would ever believe her prophecies. Her cursed gift from Apollo became a source of endless pain and frustration to Cassandra. She was seen as a liar and a madwoman by her family and by the Trojan people. In some versions of the story, she was often locked up in a pyramidal building on the citadel on the orders of her father, King Priam. She was accompanied there by the wardress, who cared for her under orders to inform the King of all of his daughter’s “prophetic utterances”. She was driven truly insane by this in the versions where she was incarcerated.

Cassandra made many predictions, and all of her prophecies were disbelieved except for one, when she foresaw who Paris was and proclaimed that he was her abandoned brother. That took place after he had sought refuge in the altar of Zeus from their brothers’ wrath, which resulted in his reunion with their family. Cassandra foresaw that Paris’ abduction of Helen for his wife would bring about the Trojan War and cause the destruction of Troy. She did warn Paris not to go to Sparta. Helenus echoed her prophecy, but their warnings were ignored. Cassandra saw Helen coming into Troy when Paris returned home from Sparta. Cassandra furiously snatched away Helen’s golden veil and tore at her hair, for she had foreseen that Helen’s arrival would bring the calamities of the Trojan War and the destruction of Troy. The Trojan people, however, welcomed Helen into their city.

In The Fall of Troy, told by Quintus Smyrnaeus, Cassandra had attempted to warn the Trojan people that Greek warriors hiding in the Trojan Horse while they were celebrating their victory over the Greeks with feasting. They disbelieved her, calling her names and degrading her with insults. She grabbed an axe in one hand and a burning torch in her other, and ran towards the Trojan Horse, intent on destroying it herself to stop the Greeks from destroying Troy. The Trojan people stopped her before she could do so. The Greeks hiding inside the Horse were relieved that the Trojans had stopped Cassandra from destroying it, but they were surprised by how clearly she had seen their plan to defeat Troy.

Cassandra was taken as a concubine by King Agamemnon of Mycenae, but unbeknown to Agamemnon, while he was away at war, his wife, Clytemnestra, had begun an affair with Aegisthus. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus then murdered both Agamemnon and Cassandra. She was sent to the Elysian Fields after her death, because her soul was judged worthy due to her dedication to the gods, and her religious nature during her life. Cassandra was buried either at Amyclae or Mycenae. Heinrich Schliemann was certain that he had discovered Cassandra’s tomb when he had excavated Mycenae, because he found the remains of a woman and two infants in one of the circle graves at Mycenae. Source: Wikipedia

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 50.0 grams
DIAMETER 50.00 mm
FINISH Antique
BOX / COA Yes/ Yes