One style of numismatic that seems to be particularly prevalent in Europe are bullion coins that have been subject to aftermarket modifications. This could take the form of selective gilding or colouring to the relief, or especially the background of a coins face. Rarely there might be holograms or inserts, perhaps even combinations of the different processes. What is true is that the majority of them are simply hideous. Ill conceived and poorly realised, there are some true horrors out there, admittedly along with some that are decent enough if that’s your thing.
Standing out from the mass of offerings comes Allcollects new series called Golden Enigma. Eschewing the gaudy and busy colouration of most of the competition, minimalism is the name of the game here and it’s pulled off with great success. The nature of the series is quite simple. Take a silver bullion coin, plate it all over with the black-coloured element Ruthenium, and then selectively plate parts of the reverse side design, usually the relief parts, with gold.
Ruthenium (Ru44) is an element residing in the platinum group of the periodic table. Like gold it’s a relatively inert metal, not reacting with most other elements and not tarnishing unless subject to high temperatures. It’s known as a transition metal and very rare, with annual production under 20 tonnes. It’s only the 74th most abundant element in the earths crust and generally found in the Ural Mountains, and in North and South America, with only minor deposits elsewhere. The six platinum-group metals are ruthenium, rhodium, the semi-precious metal palladium, the super-dense osmium, platinum, and iridium, the element present in the K-T boundary, a geological event linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
All of these coins have appeared over the last year or so with the Eagle the first to debut and the Maple the latest. We’ve yet to confirm that the Taku coins are indeed actual Golden Enigma coins and we suspect they may be copycats, but they are designed and packaged very similarly so collectors may still find them of interest, especially with a mintage of just 200. We were tempted to include the new versions starting to appear, but they’re definitely not genuine members of this series and to be as diplomatic as possible, an acquired taste. Known as the Burning series, they look very similar to these except have had added a very bright and prominent set of flames around the gilding. Personally we’re not fans, but given some very steep appreciation, especially of the Maple version, we’re in a minority, although from comments on forums they’re definitely coins you either love or hate. Prices are mostly under €100, although the 2014 American Eagle variant is now up to well over double that.