When this series debuted last year, we likened it to an Asian Queen’s Beasts in concept, and with the addition of this second design, we stand by that more than ever. Just as the Queen’s Beasts sat outside Hampton Court Palace, the twelve bronze heads that inspired this series, adorned a water fountain outside the Old Summer Palace in Beijing. Despite the Chinese influence, they were designed by Italian Jesuit painter, Giuseppe Castiglione.
Seven of the twelve heads have been returned to China, after having been looted during the Second Opium War in 1860, What Numiartis are doing is to anthropomorphise the heads, placing the lunar animals on robed human figures, and inserting into one hand a sphere of a mineral/metal. On the first coin, that was a piece of bronze, and this time, it’s red agate.
The second coin features the tiger head, reproducing the original bronze head closely, and doing so with lashings of high-relief, and an attractive black proof finish. The images we have this year are vastly better than those we have of the debut coin, and do a great job of showing off the relief, and the high-quality of the strike. The common obverse is back, and depicts the original location of the heads before they were taken in 1860. This is a late 2022 issue, so the effigy is still that of Queen Elizabeth II.
A neat and quite unique take on the lunar animals, utilising historical artifacts with a twist. The coins come boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, and have a mintage of 500 pieces. The bulk of the first issue went to China, where the original bronzes are well regarded, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this was again the case. They should ship before the holidays.