Perth Mint does Egypt in its own unique style with a gold filled ‘micro snowglobe’ coin

While the Perth Mint spends much of its time issuing upmarket variants of its iconic bullion range (gilded, coloured, proof, etc.), and simple coloured proof coins, it does like to push the envelope now and then. You could argue that the current darling of the coin world – the 2oz high relief antiqued mythology theme – was kickstarted by the mint with its Zeus coin half a decade ago. They haven’t given up on the format, but have employed it in what can only be described as the most eclectic series in modern coins today.

We’ve already seen a thermometer, a compass, a clock, a Yin Yang, a pearl and others set into the middle of issues in this range, but the latest release is a subtle nod back to the formats ancient mythology roots. Ancient Egypt is a pretty popular subject these days and it’s hardly surprising given it was a civilisation replete with striking imagery and a rich breeding ground for coin ideas. In other words, an obvious choice for this series.

The 2oz antique finished part of the equation consists of a ring of metal packed with layers of hieroglyph-style visual elements. A simplified version with a line of ankh symbols populates the obverse face. In the centre of the coin sits a Perspex dome in which suspended in mineral oil are fine flakes of gold. It’s almost like a miniature up-market snowglobe. The coin is a chunky beast, helped along by the metal from the whole making the rest thicker.

Packaging is attractive. A heavily themed pyramid shaped box (what else…) has a hinged apex that opens to reveal the coin inside. The whole thing is gimmicky of course, but a neat item for the archaeology and history buff. Selling for $229.00 AUD and with a mintage of 2,500 pieces, this is an oddball entrant in an oddball series and should be checked out for that reason alone.

GOLD MINING IN ANCIENT EGYPT

One look at the burial mask of Tutankhamun and it’s obvious the Ancient Egyptians loved the yellow shiny metal. A minor Pharaoh, we can only imagine what some of the ‘big guns’ of the empire had in their tombs. What brought about this love affair with gold? It was considered the ‘skin of the gods’, especially the important sun god Ra, and the durable nature of the metal was very important to a culture that thought in eternities. The sole reserve of royalty and nobility, gold actually had no monetary value – Egyptians preferring a barter system – although it was important for international trade and as a way to keep vassal kings loyal.

Most of the gold used by the Egyptians came from the Eastern Desert and from Nubia. Indeed, Nubia was called nbw in the ancient tongue, which literally means ‘gold‘. A map on the Turin Papyrus identifies 1,300 mines in Ancient Egypt. Conditions in the mine were very harsh and worked by prisoners and slaves.

They didn’t spend any time refining the metal, and most of the gold used contained significant quantities of silver. We call the metal electrum. Early gold came from rivers and was known as nub-en-mu (‘gold of the river’). Gold rich sand would be put into an animal fleece sack with the woolly side inward, and it would be filled with water and shaken by two men. Gold would separate out into the fleece and the dirt and sand would pour out with the water.

It wasn’t until the New Kingdom that shallow underground mining commenced and this was known as nub-en-set (‘gold of the mountain’). Gold ore was crushed and again, filtered out with a flow of water. Hard, time-consuming work, it was produced in enough quantity to ensure it would be forever associated with the great Nile kingdom.

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MINTS DESCRIPTION

Gold has held humans in awe for centuries, dating back to some of the earliest known civilisations. The ancient Egyptians considered the lustrous metal to be the skin of their deities, particularly the sun god, Ra. Worn by royalty and priests, the precious substance was often featured in funerary art, most famously the death mask of Tutankhamun who reigned from approximately 1336-1327 BCE. This image of his mask is featured on the reverse of this stunning antiqued coin, along with other Egyptian hieroglyphics and symbols associated with the golden metal.

DESIGN: The reverse of the coin features gold particles encased in Perspex, surrounded by representations of Egyptian hieroglyphics and symbols. These include sacred images denoting protection, eternal life and royalty such as the Eye of Horus, a pyramid, a vase, the goddess Isis, a falcon, an ankh hieroglyph representing life, a sarcophagus and a scarab. Also included in the design is the inscription ‘2oz 9999 SILVER’ and The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark.

PACKAGING: The coin is housed in a pyramid shaped display case, the top of which opens to reveal the coin. The surface of the pyramid is decorated by hieroglyphics and features a coloured winged scarab beetle design. The ancient Egyptians revered this insect as the divine manifestation of the early morning sun, Khepri, and believed the god, in the form of the beetle, rolled the disk of the rising sun over the eastern horizon at daybreak. Packaged within a textured box stamped with the Golden Treasures scarab beetle design, the coin is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $2 TVD (Tuvalu)
COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver
WEIGHT 62.213 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.5 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Gold flake filled dome
MINTAGE 2,500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes