What happens when you combine two popular coin themes into one? You get something like Mint XXI’s ‘Planets & Gods’ series of three ounce silver coins. Mixing together the popular ancient mythology and the astronomy genres, they’ve produced an attractive and clever range of coins linking together the planets of our Solar System, with the ancient gods that gave them their names.
Launching in 2019 with Mercury, each coin features a representation of the ancient god, usually in the style of a statue of the period, overlaid on a coloured background image of the planet. The latter has been made possible by the quite extraordinary images sent back by several satellites sent out from Earth over the last few decades. The level of detail we now have of planetary surfaces throughout the system is a source of wonder, a riot of colour and dynamism.
All of the planets, with the exception of Earth, are named after ancient gods, mostly Roman, so sources of sculptural art from antiquity are widespread and varied. You have to give credit to Mint XXI for seeing the potential here, and for realising it so well. Each coin is antique-finished, which shows on the obverse and on the depiction of the god on the reverse, which is struck to a high level of relief. The background is a richly coloured and textured view of the planet.
At the time of writing, all seven coins have been released, which covers all of the planetary bodies strictly defined as full planets, Pluto having recently been reclassified as a ‘Dwarf Planet’ because of its size, and Earth having no defined god to represent it. We’d still like to see Pluto get a coin, and many of the largest moon are likewise named after gods (Ganymede, Calllisto, Io, Europa, etc.), so perhaps a smaller sized and more affordable coin series for them.