Project Description

2019 INVENTIONS OF LEONARDO by the Czech Mint

Renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci is no stranger to the coin world and it’s easy to see why. A huge body of incredible artwork and astounding inventions are a veritable visual feast and make splendid numismatics. To date, the vast majority of coins featuring the mans work have stayed firmly in the artistic sphere, but the Czech Mint have chosen to showcase Da Vinci’s engineering skills, especially in works that led to advances in warfighting.

Designed by Asamat Baltaev, the medal maker responsible for the beautiful Jules Verne series from the same mint, this is a four coin series released throughout 2019. These proof silver coins are cleanly struck, and portray a mix of sketch/blueprint and potential reality for four weapons of war – all under his watchful gaze. It’s like each coin has taken the two dimensional drawing and rendered it in 3D.

There’s a common obverse which depicts small images of the four inventions to be showcased. These surround the ubiquitous effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank Broadley – this is a Niue Island issue. Having seen these in hand, we can confirm a beautiful strike for each of them and admirers of this incredible individuals work will find much to love here.

Each coin comes individually packaged in one of those small boxes that buyers of Austrian Mint coins will know so well. Nice and compact, they also contain a certificate of authenticity. best of all, however, is a custom themed tin that holds the whole set of four. Available for a nominal sum, despite having a themed lid and enclosing a large art card, we wish more mints would take note. Just 1,000 of each coin is being struck and they’re available from the mint, or from sponsors like Minted-UK or Powercoin.


Leonardo had been fascinated by the birds since the childhood, and dreamed that he will once fly with them. Because he was not only an unrivalled artist, but also a brilliant designer, he sketched out 150 designs of sophisticated machines to fulfil his dream. There were parachutes or so-called ornithopters with wings to fly. Another flying machine to use the human force was a so-called “air screw”. Why the screw? Leonardo believed that the air was compressible, so had to have a tangible density to which the screw could go to – just like the screw into the wood. This conclusion could be reached by observing the winged maple seeds that are rotating when they fall on the ground. When it goes down, why it could not go up with the right drive?

The invention was provided with a complex system of pedals, gears and levers by which the four-men crew had to spin a spiral propeller. Though Leonardo was thinking about lightweight materials – linen, reed and wire – the machine would be too heavy. And because it would not have enough lift, it would never take off. At the end of his life, Leonardo realized that the human force was not enough to take off, and he returned to the drawing board. But this is the story of another invention … Still, four centuries later Leonardo´s draws inspired Igor Sikorsky, who is the designer of the first real helicopter.


The helicopter proved to be an impasse in Leonardo’s attempt to create a flying machine. The inventor realized that the human power that should drive it would not be enough to take off. So he returned to the drawing board. He admired the animals, enforced their rights and was likely to be a vegetarian. He decided to imitate what he had learned from his beloved dumb faces. He was initially inspired by a bird flight. As a model for the new invention, which he simply called a “bird”, he chose a kite – a small and agile predator. He created a number of sketches based on its skeleton, but it was still not perfect.

He continued studying the flying creatures and finally wrote down in his diary: “Remember that your bird must not imitate anything other than a bat. And that’s because it’s flying through the membrane and not the feathers like the birds. That bird must rise to a wind, so its wings must be robust – made of thick skin and ropes.” Unlike the helicopter Leonardo actually built and even tried his “bird” which more than anything else recalls today’s hang-glider. Unfortunately, he was not successful at the time, but when his compatriots repeated his attempt five centuries later, they succeeded. Leonardo da Vinci could become the first flightman in human history. The glider, however, was not the last invention. He invented a parachute, a wind gauge to check velocity of wind, an anemoscope to check wind direction and an inclinometer to check the horizontal position of the flight.


Leonardo da Vinci loved life and considered fighting the worst human activity. Yet he has written numerous designs of sophisticated war machines that provided him favour of powerful patrons and sponsors. While cold weapons supported by bows and crossbows ruled the battlefields in the Middle Ages, firearms began to spread in the Renaissance and changed the warfare. Although their power was devastating, they suffered from a number of shortcomings. Probably the biggest was the low rate of fire caused by complicated charging, which took several minutes. Leonardo solved this problem with elegance – placing a number of the main ones in one bundle, thus solving the issue of fast charging and the necessary cooling.

Thus the first machine gun appeared. Leonardo did not stay with one proposal and invented a number of variants of his rapid-fire weapon. The most sophisticated one was supposed to consist of three main rotating rows – while the first row was firing, the second row was cooling and the third was charging. If such a weapon was used against the advancing infantry, its effect would be devastating. Fortunately, Leonardo is known as a man who did everything, but rarely finished anything. He did not finish most of his war machines. But perhaps his pacifism might have been more than his inattention. Indeed, when researchers designed his war machines at the end of the 20th century, it turned out to be terrifyingly functional …


Leonardo da Vinci designed a covered war car in 1482. He wrote in his diary at the time: “I can make armoured cars, safe and impregnable, which reach the front ranks of enemy troops. They would send death with their cannons and rifles. ” This car was supposed not only to break through the enemy lines, but also to protect its own soldiers. Exactly this tactic was used four centuries later – during the First World War, when the British deployed the first real tanks. Leonardo’s machine had the shape of a round tent – around the perimeter of the barrel and a small observation was placed on the top. The surface of the cloak was not perpendicular, but bevelled, and the armour should better deflect enemy missiles.

Although this project never left the drawing board, it counted a crew of eight men. They would fire from the guns and drive wheels connected to the transmission system by the crankshaft – independently of the left and right sides of the car. However, modern students found out that the transfers were poorly designed and the tank could never move with their help. However, historians agree that this mistake was made by a peaceful engineer deliberately to make it impossible to construct the invention if the plans fell into the wrong hands.



While he is most famously known for his works of art like the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Vitruvian Man, Leonardo’s studies in science and engineering are sometimes considered as impressive and innovative. These studies were recorded in 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and natural philosophy (the forerunner of modern science). They were made and maintained daily throughout Leonardo’s life and travels, as he made continual observations of the world around him

Leonardo’s notes and drawings display an enormous range of interests and preoccupations, some as mundane as lists of groceries and people who owed him money and some as intriguing as designs for wings and shoes for walking on water. There are compositions for paintings, studies of details and drapery, studies of faces and emotions, of animals, babies, dissections, plant studies, rock formations, whirlpools, war machines, flying machines and architecture.

These notebooks—originally loose papers of different types and sizes, distributed by friends after his death—have found their way into major collections. Most of Leonardo’s writings are in mirror-image cursive. Since Leonardo wrote with his left hand, it was probably easier for him to write from right to left. Leonardo’s notes appear to have been intended for publication because many of the sheets have a form and order that would facilitate this. In many cases a single topic, for example, the heart or the human fetus, is covered in detail in both words and pictures on a single sheet. Why they were not published during Leonardo’s lifetime is unknown.

Leonardo was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight for much of his life, producing many studies, including Codex on the Flight of Birds (c. 1505), as well as plans for several flying machines such as a flapping ornithopter and a machine with a helical rotor. The British television station Channel Four commissioned a 2003 documentary, Leonardo’s Dream Machines, in which various designs by Leonardo, such as a parachute and a giant crossbow, were interpreted, constructed and tested. Some of those designs proved successful, whilst others fared less well when practically tested. Source: Wikipedia


DENOMINATION $1 New Zealand (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
MINTAGE 1,000 per design
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes (Optional Collection tin)