One of the famous and most sought after mysteries of mankind, the ability to turn base metal into gold, has inspired a seemingly never ending bunch of cranks and weirdos to claim they’ve achieved the magical feat. Add a bit of immortality into the mix – of course, why not? – and you have Nicolas Flamel.
The 14th century French scribe and manuscript seller, never, as far as we know, actually had anything to do with alchemy in his lifetime, but was ascribed the talent some 250 years later when such things became fashionable in the more brain-dead and elitist circles of European society. Whatever the true story, he has gained notoriety in the field, and to this day, appears in videogames and movies as the dicoverer of the legendary Philosophers Stone. The oldest stone house in Paris is one that Flamel built in 1407 for the homeless in memory of his wife (pictured above) and is now a restaurant.
The coin is a rare one from the Lithuanian Mint, replete with several adornments not usually present in their issues, but with some fine touches. Designed by the talented Miroslav Hric (responsible for some excellent Art Mint issues as well), it has that medieval look and is covered with the symbols of the mystical arts. This is a coin for the 17th century reinterpretated Flamel, rather than the wholesome, but quiet 14th century reality.
Antique-finished, selective gilding on both faces, and a Swarovski crystal representing the Philosophers Stone, it packs a lot in, yet never loses focus on the subject. Beautifully done, especially that gorgeous snake rim, eating its own tail, Ouroboros defined. Presentation looks good and the 2 oz silver coin has a mintage of just 500 pieces. It’s rare to see a subject like this given the ancient mythology ‘treatment’, but it clearly works, so hopefully we’ll see a sequel coin. The medieval world is full of legends like this and it’s an overlooked period in modern numismatics.