While the sheer prolific nature of the Mint of Poland’s numerous ancient world themed coin series is in a league of its own, they have plenty of competition on the quality front. Chief amongst them is Numiscollect who, in conjunction with CIT and BH Mayer, produce some of the best coins ever issued in the genre.
There are currently four series in progress, three of them quite close in concept and execution, with a smaller 2oz range showcasing the artifacts used by the various gods. All are struck in 0.999 silver and none have a mintage that rises past three figures.
Put simply, these are gorgeous coins, with a great variety of subjects, some rarely seen on a coin, but with a fairly consistent artistic style. Packaging is okay, although lacking the visual flair that so exemplifies the coins themselves, but does the job regardless. Easily some of the best modern numismatics being released onto the market today.
It’s a particularly visual look this time, so we’ve split it up over two pages, with a gallery on the third. The guide will be kept up to date when new issues appear as all are still ongoing.
This series features a selection of the major deities from a cross-section of time and location.This isn’t themed around a specific religion or civilisation, so remains the one to get if you want the greatest variety. In the first four issues alone, we’ve already journeyed to four different continents.
These are big (50mm) three-ounce fine silver coins taking full advantage of CIT & BH Mayer’s superb Smartminting technology. The artistic style leans towards the realistic rather than the stylistic, with even the more fantastical characters exhibiting a base human pose.
|DENOMINATION||$20 CID (Cook Islands)|
|MODIFICATIONS||Ultra high-relief Smartminting|
|BOX / C.O.A.||Yes / Yes|
Quetzalcoatl forms part of Mesoamerican literature and is a deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means “feathered serpent”. The worship of a feathered serpent is first documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BC or first century AD. That period lies within the Late Preclassic to Early Classic period (400 BC – 600 AD) of Mesoamerican chronology, and veneration of the figure appears to have spread throughout Mesoamerica by the Late Classic period (600–900 AD).
In the Postclassic period (900–1519 AD), the worship of the feathered serpent deity was based in the primary Mexican religious center of Cholula. It is in this period that the deity is known to have been named “Quetzalcoatl” by his Nahua followers. In the Maya area, he was approximately equivalent to Kukulkan and Gukumatz, names that also roughly translate as “feathered serpent” in different Mayan languages.
Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind and learning, wears around his neck the “wind breastplate” ehecailacocozcatl, “the spirally voluted wind jewel” made of a conch shell. This talisman was a conch shell cut at the cross-section and was likely worn as a necklace by religious rulers, as they have been discovered in burials in archaeological sites throughout Mesoamerica, and potentially symbolized patterns witnessed in hurricanes, dust devils, seashells, and whirlpools, which were elemental forces that had significance in Aztec mythology.
Among the Aztecs, whose beliefs are the best-documented in the historical sources, Quetzalcoatl was related to gods of the wind, of the planet Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcoatl was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon, along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. Two other gods represented by the planet Venus are Quetzalcoatl’s ally Tlaloc who is the god of rain, and Quetzalcoatl’s twin and psychopomp, who is named Xolotl.
Ra (cuneiform: 𒊑𒀀 ri-a or 𒊑𒅀ri-ia) is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun.
In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the major state god Horus into Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”). He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the earth, and the underworld. He was associated with the falcon, and many images of him showed him with a falcon’s head. These images can be told apart from images of Horus due to having a sun disk on its head instead of Horus’s usual Pschent headdress.
In the New Kingdom, when the god Amun rose to prominence he was fused with Ra into Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favor of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored. The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, had its center in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city.
All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names. Alternatively man was created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra”. In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty Ra pacified her by giving her beer mixed with red dye, which she drank in mistake for blood.
Ra was represented in a variety of forms. The most usual form was a man with the head of a hawk and a solar disk on top and a coiled serpent around the disk. Other common forms are a man with the head of a beetle (in his form as Khepri), or a man with the head of a ram. Ra was also pictured as a full-bodied ram, beetle, phoenix, heron, serpent, bull, cat, or lion, among others. (Source: Wikipedia)
Poseidon is one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain is the ocean, and he is called the “God of the Sea”. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”. He is usually depicted as an older male with curly hair and beard.
The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Linear B tablets show that Poseidon was venerated at Pylos and Thebes in pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece as a chief deity, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of Zeus and Hades. According to some folklore, he was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which was devoured by Cronos.
There is a Homeric hymn to Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, although he lost the contest for Athens to Athena. According to the references from Plato in his dialogue Timaeus and Critias, the island of Atlantis was the chosen domain of Poseidon.
Shiva (or Siva) is one of the most important gods in the Hindu pantheon and, along with Brahma and Vishnu, is considered a member of the holy trinity (trimurti) of Hinduism. A complex character, he may represent goodness, benevolence and serve as the Protector but he also has a darker side as the leader of evil spirits, ghosts and vampires and as the master of thieves, villains and beggars. He is also associated with Time, and particularly as the destroyer of all things.
Nevertheless, Shiva is also associated with creation. In Hinduism, the universe is thought to regenerate in cycles (every 2,160,000,000 years). Shiva destroys the universe at the end of each cycle which then allows for a new Creation. Shiva is also the great ascetic, abstaining from all forms of indulgence and pleasure, concentrating rather on meditation as a means to find perfect happiness. He is the most important Hindu god for the Shaivism sect, the patron of Yogis and Brahmins, and also the protector of the Vedas, the sacred texts. (Cartwright, M. (2018, May 10). Shiva. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/shiva/)
A companion series to the Gods of the World, these continue with the same artistic style struck into the same format. However, the Titans are a more Euro-centric mythical construct, so we’d expect a smaller range and a less varied one than its father series.
|DENOMINATION||$20 CID (Cook Islands)|
|MODIFICATIONS||Ultra high-relief Smartminting|
|BOX / C.O.A.||Yes / Yes|
Atlas was a Titan condemned to hold up the celestial heavens for eternity after the Titanomachy. Atlas also plays a role in the myths of two of the greatest Greek heroes: Heracles (the Roman equivalent being Hercules) and Perseus. According to the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, Atlas stood at the ends of the earth in extreme west. Later, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in northwest Africa and was said to be “King of Mauretania”.
Atlas was said to have been skilled in philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy. In antiquity, he was credited with inventing the first celestial sphere. In some texts, he is even credited with the invention of astronomy itself. Atlas was the son of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Asia or Clymene. He had many children, mostly daughters, the Hesperides, the Hyades, the Pleiades, and the nymph Calypso who lived on the island Ogygia.
Prometheus (meaning “Forethought”) was one of the ringleaders of the battle between the Titans and the Olympian gods led by Zeus to gain control of the heavens, a struggle which was said to have lasted ten years. Prometheus did, however, switch sides and support the victorious Olympians when the Titans would not follow his advice to use trickery in the battle.
According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Prometheus’ father was Iapetus, his mother was Clymene (or Themis in other versions) and his brothers were fellow Titans Epimetheus (Afterthought or Hindsight), Menoetius, and Atlas. One of Prometheus’ sons was Deucalion, an equivalent of Noah, who survived a great flood by sailing in a great chest for nine days and nights and who, with his wife Pyrrha, became the founder of the human race.
In some traditions, Prometheus made the first man from clay, whilst in others, the gods made all creatures on Earth, and Epimetheus and Prometheus were given the task of endowing them with gifts so that they might survive and prosper. Epimetheus liberally spread around such gifts as fur and wings but by the time he got around to man, he had run out of gifts.
Feeling sorry for man’s weak and naked state, Prometheus raided the workshop of Hephaistos and Athena on Mt. Olympus and stole fire, and by hiding it in a hollow fennel-stalk, he gave the valuable gift to man which would help him in life’s struggle. The Titan also taught man how to use their gift and so the skill of metalwork began; he also came to be associated with science and culture.
Zeus was outraged by Prometheus’ theft of fire and so punished the Titan by having him taken far to the east, perhaps the Caucasus. Here Prometheus was chained to a rock (or pillar) and Zeus sent an eagle to eat the Titan’s liver. Even worse, the liver re-grew every night and the eagle returned each day to perpetually torment Prometheus. Fortunately for man’s benefactor, but only after many years, the hero Hercules, when passing one day during his celebrated labours, killed the eagle with one of his arrows. In Hesiod’s Works & Days we are told that Zeus punished man for receiving the fire by instructing Hephaistos to create the first woman, Pandora, from clay and through her all the negative aspects of life would befall the human race – toil, illness, war, and death – and definitively separate mankind from the gods. (Cartwright, M. (2013, April 20). Prometheus. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Prometheus/ )