Project Description

2016+ CHISELLED EDGE ANCIENTS by Scottsdale Mint

While we often see new and unusual subjects on modern bullion coins, we don’t often see something different in the format sense. In 2016, Scottsdale Mint debuted the first of its new Egyptian Relics series. These were quite unlike anything else on the legal tender market. Available initially only in a five-ounce format, they keep a diameter similar to a standard one ounce coin, choosing to employ all the extra weight on increasing the thickness.

There’s nothing unusual in that, of course, but instead of a standard bound edge, either smooth or reeded, Scottsdale have chosen to replicate the look of a piece of chiselled stone. It’s a small thing, but an inspired idea that works perfectly with the subject matter. Looking at the first coin depicting Tutankhamun, you can almost see it as being a piece of chipped off hieroglyphic adorned facade. The use of an antique finish aids in the effect. There’s no high-relief here – theses are still bullion coins after all – but again, that fits the theme as most Egyptian imagery was incused into a stone face.

Quickly following the five-ounce debut was a two-ounce coin that worked surprisingly well, and a gorgeous gold coin. The latter one eschewed the chiselled edge, but remained unbound to give that ancient feel, much like the Monnaie de Paris’s superb Clovis series. In 2018, Scottsdale expanded the theme to include the legendary Terracotta Army. While the format is less relevant to the Chinese site than it is to the Ancient Egyptian civilisation, it works just as well, helped along by the change from the small cardboard boxes to the very cool hessian-style bags (yes, these bullion coins come packaged).

These are one of our favourite bullion coin series of all time. It helps that I love the subject matter, but the implementation is absolutely first class and constitutes one of those rare examples of a format change done for the right reasons rather than just for the sake of it. The coins are still being released, with another Terracotta Army issue due in 2020. As a sidenote, the Terracotta Army coin didn’t release in 2019, and was essentially missed from the mints schedule last year. To get back on track, they produced a limited run of just 1,500 pieces of that design, so definitely one to keep an eye out for.

Mintages as a whole are pretty tight, with none exceeding 30,000 pieces. The Egyptian Relics series is issued for Republic of Chad, an African state, so at least on the same continent as the theme. The Terracotta Army coins are issued for Fiji. Both ranges carry the respective national emblems, Fiji having dumped the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II after its constitutional problems a few years ago. It’s great to see a bullion coin have this much care and attention expended on it, and so successfully. These are true bullion coins, with some very low premiums, yet also having plenty of potential as semi-numismatics. As I said earlier, one of our all time favourites.

2016 King Tutankhamun 5oz (30,000)

Tutankhamun (also known as Tutankhamen and `King Tut’, r. c.1336-c.1327 BCE) is the most famous and instantly recognizable Pharaoh in the modern world. His golden sarcophagus is now a symbol almost synonymous with Egypt. His name means `living image of [the god] Amun’. He was born in the year 11 of the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (better known as Akhenaten, r. 1353-1336 BCE) c. 1345 BCE and died, some claim mysteriously, in c.1327 BCE at the age of 17 or 18.

He became the celebrity pharaoh he is today in 1922 CE when the archaeologist Howard Carter discovered his almost-intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings. While it was initially thought that Tutankhamun was a minor ruler, whose reign was of little consequence, opinion has changed as further evidence has come to light. Today Tutankhamun is recognized as an important pharaoh who returned order to a land left in chaos by his father’s political-religious reforms and who would no doubt have made further impressive contributions to Egypt’s history if not for his early death. (Mark, J. J. (2014, April 01). Tutankhamun. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Tutankhamun/)

2016 Horus 2oz (30,000)

Horus is the name of a sky god in ancient Egyptian mythology which designates primarily two deities: Horus the Elder (or Horus the Great), the last born of the first five original gods, and Horus the Younger, the son of Osiris and Isis. According to the historian Jimmy Dunn, “Horus is the most important of the avian deities” who takes on so many forms and is depicted so differently in various inscriptions that “it is nearly impossible to distinguish the ‘true’ Horus. Horus is mostly a general term for a great number of falcon deities”. While this is certainly true, the name ‘Horus’ will usually be found to designate either the older god of the first five or the son of Isis and Osiris who defeated his uncle Set and restored order to the land.

The name Horus is the Latin version of the Egyptian Hor which means “the Distant One”, a reference to his role as a sky god. The elder Horus, brother of Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys, is known as Horus the Great in English or Harwer and Haroeris in Egyptian. The son of Osiris and Isis is known as Horus the Child (Hor pa khered) who was transformed into the Greek god Harpocrates after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 331 BCE. ‘Harpocrates’ also means ‘Horus the Child’ but the deity differed from the Egyptian Horus. Harpocrates was the Greek god of silence and confidentiality, the keeper of secrets, whose statuary regularly depicts him as a winged child with his finger to his lips.

Horus the Younger, on the other hand, was a powerful sky god associated with the sun, primarily, but also the moon. He was the protector of the royalty of Egypt, avenger of wrongs, defender of order, uniter of the two lands and, based on his battles with Set, a god of war regularly invoked by Egyptian rulers before battle and praised afterwards. In time, he became combined with the sun god Ra to form a new deity, Ra-Harahkhte, god of the sun who sailed across the sky during the day and was depicted as a falcon-headed man wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt with the sun disk on it. His symbols are the Eye of Horus (one of the most famous Egyptian symbols) and the falcon.

Mark, J. J. (2016, March 16). Horus. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Horus/

2017 King Tutankhamun 1oz gold (10,000)

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.

2017 Queen Nefertiti 5oz (30,000)

Nefertiti (c. 1370 – c. 1336 BCE) was the wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. Her name means, `the beautiful one has come’ and, because of the world-famous bust created by the sculptor Thutmose (discovered in 1912 CE), she is the most recognizable queen of ancient Egypt. She grew up in the royal palace at Thebes, probably the daughter of the vizier to Amenhotep III, a man named Ay, and was engaged to his son, Amenhotep IV, around the age of eleven.

There is evidence to suggest that she was an adherent of the cult of Aten, a sun deity, at an early age and that she may have influenced Amenhotep IV’s later decision to abandon the worship of the gods of Egypt in favor of a monotheism centered on Aten. After he changed his name to Akhenaten and assumed the throne of Egypt, Nefertiti ruled with him until his death after which she disappears from the historical record.

In her role as part of the divine couple, Nefertiti may also have been co-regent. Akhenaten joined his cartouche (his seal) with hers as a sign of equality and there is evidence that she took on the traditional duties of pharaoh while her husband busied himself with theological reformation and architectural renovations. Images which have survived depict her officiating at religious services, receiving foreign dignitaries, moderating diplomatic meetings, and even in the traditional royal role of the king smiting the enemies of Egypt.

None of these images would have been created if there were not some truth behind the stories they depict and so Nefertiti must have wielded more power than any woman in Egypt since the time of Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE). From the royal palace at Akhetaten, she sent forth the royal decrees and made the decisions which, according to tradition, were the responsibility of her husband. (Source: Ancient.eu by Joshua J. Mark)

2017 Ramesses II 2oz (25,000)

Born around 1303 B.C., Ramesses II, also known as “Ramesses the Great,” reigned as Pharaoh over the Egyptian Empire from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most powerful Pharaohs of the Egyptian Empire. At the age of fourteen (14), Ramesses II’s father Seti I, appointed Ramesses II Prince Regent. Less then ten years later, Ramesses II would ascend to the throne as Pharaoh. Ramesses’ greatest accomplishments include numerous victorious campaigns against the Canaanites, Hittites, Nubians, and Sherden sea pirates; construction of a new Egyptian Capital – Pi-Ramesses; the Ramesseum (a temple complex), construction of numerous colossal statues that bore his image throughout the Egyptian Empire, and creation of arguably the world’s first Peace Treaty – a treaty signed that ended the conflict between Egypt and Hatti.

Ramesses’ rule over the Egyptian Empire lasted nearly seventy (70) years. His leadership helped shape much of Egyptian culture, religion, and aided in the restoration of the empire’s borders, ushering in security and an increase in trade throughout the Egyptian Empire. Upon his death at the age of 90 or 91, Ramesses was originally buried in tomb KV7, located in the Valley of the Kings. His body would later be moved to a royal cache where it would remain until being discovered in 1881.

2017 Ramesses II Afterlife 2oz (25,000)

2018 Terracotta Army 5oz (10,000)

The Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang (literally the “First Emperor of Qin”) was discovered on 29 March 1974 about 1.5 km east of his tomb mound at Mount Li. Fragments of the terracotta figures, along with pieces of the necropolis structures, had been found in the area for years, which led to Chinese archaeologists investigating. They found the largest pottery figurine group yet unearthed and it just snowballed from there.

The construction of the tomb was described by historian Sima Qian (145–90 BCE) in his most noted work Shiji, written a century after the mausoleum’s completion. Work on the mausoleum began in 246 BCE soon after Emperor Qin (then aged 13) ascended the throne, and the project eventually involved 700,000 workers until its completion in 206 BCE. The scale of the tomb complex is quite staggering. The layout of the mausoleum is modelled on the Qin capital Xianyang, divided into inner and outer cities. The circumference of the inner city is 2.5 km and the outer is 6.3 km. The Chinese have used ground-penetrating radar and core sampling and have determined the complex covers an incredible 98 square kilometers.

An earthen mound holds the Emperor’s tomb itself, but sensibly, the Chinese have decided not to excavate until they can be assured that no damage will occur to the contents. When the Terracotta Army was uncovered, the figures were covered in paint, which you will notice now only by its absence. The lacquer covering the paint can curl in as little as fifteen seconds, and flake off completely in just four minutes!

The Terracotta Army itself is believed to hold more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. Only a fraction of them have been uncovered to date and much work remains to be done. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. It isn’t just military figures joining the Emperor in the afterlife. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.

2019 Sphinx of Hatshepsut 5oz (20,000)

Hatshepsut (“Foremost of Noble Ladies”; 1507–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second historically-confirmed female pharaoh, the first being Sobekneferu, although various other women may have also ruled as pharaohs regnant or at least regents before Hatshepsut, as early as Neithhotep around 1600 years prior.

Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC. Her rise to power was noteworthy as it required her to utilize her bloodline, education, and an understanding of religion. Her bloodline was impeccable as she was the daughter, sister, and wife of a king. Her understanding of religion allowed her to establish herself as the God’s Wife of Amen. Officially, she ruled jointly with Thutmose III, who had ascended to the throne the previous year as a child of about two years old. Hatshepsut was the chief wife of Thutmose II, Thutmose III’s father. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. Hatshepsut was the daughter and only child of Thutmose I and his primary wife, Ahmose. Her husband Thutmose II was the son of Thutmose I and a secondary wife named Mutnofret, who carried the title King’s daughter and was probably a child of Ahmose I. Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had a daughter named Neferure. After having their daughter, Hatshepsut could not bear any more children. Thutmose II with Iset, a secondary wife, would father Thutmose III, who would succeed Hatshepsut as pharaoh.

Hatshepsut was one of the most prolific builders in ancient Egypt, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Arguably, her buildings were grander and more numerous than those of any of her Middle Kingdom predecessors’. Later pharaohs attempted to claim some of her projects as theirs. She employed the great architect Ineni, who also had worked for her father, her husband, and for the royal steward Senemut.

Hatshepsut used the Sphinx in many of her projects, a fine example of which currently resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2019 Terracotta Army 5oz (1,500)

PACKAGING

SPECIFICATION

CHISELLED EDGE ANCIENTS
COIN Terracotta Army Egyptian Relics 5oz Egyptian Relics 2oz Egyptian Relics 1oz
DENOMINATION $2 FJD (Fiji) 3,000 Francs CFA (Chad) 1,000 Francs CFA (Chad) 3,000 Francs CFA (Chad)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 gold
WEIGHT 155.5 grams 155.5 grams 62.2 grams 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 46.00 mm 41.00 mm 42.00 mm 32.00 mm
FINISH Antique Antique Antique Hand struck
MODIFICATIONS ‘Chiselled’ edge ‘Chiselled’ edge ‘Chiselled’ edge Unbound edge
BOX / C.O.A. Bag / Yes Yes / No Yes / No Secure Card

GALLERY

SCOTTSDALE MINT