While it’s true that the majority of bullion coins are themed around national emblems, nature, or popular culture, there remains plenty of room for more unique offerings in a market that has grown in variety over the last decade. One of our favourites is ‘Icons of Inspiration’, a look at some of the great minds that have influenced human advancement in the past.

Launched by APMEX in 2021, each release in the series chooses an individual (or pair in the case of the Wright brothers) and depicts them, usually at work, over a background filled with images of their accomplishments. It’s a simple premise, but artist Joel Iskowitz has lifted the series by the sheer quality of the execution.

New Yorker, Iskowitz, has a long association with numismatics, having designed 14 Congressional Gold Medals, 10 First Spouse Gold coins, 8 America the Beautiful Quarters, 8 Silver and Clad Commemorative coins, 5 American Eagle Platinum Proof coins, 4 Presidential Dollars, and a Lincoln Cent reverse for the US Mint alone. His work here is sublime, in our opinion, as you’d expect of what is called a narrative artist.

The range of formats is relatively small, just three, one-ounce offerings. The key variant is the 0.999 silver coin, capped at just 10,000 pieces, with a brilliant uncirculated gold, and a proof silver rounding out the selection, both of which come boxed with a COA. They’re also both limited to just 100 units. All together, a unique, first-class offering. It shows no sign of slowing down, nor should it, with a ton of fitting subjects still to cover, from Aristotle to Hawking.


Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist and astronomer who lived from 1564 to 1642. He is known for his groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy, including the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun, not vice versa. He also invented a telescope which allowed him to observe distant stars and planets more closely than ever before. Galileo’s work revolutionized our understanding of the universe and laid the foundations for modern science.

Top facts and stats about Galileo Galilei:

1. Born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564.
2. Developed the telescope and made major contributions to the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
3. Discovered four moons of Jupiter (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto).
4. Proposed that all objects fall at the same rate regardless of their mass or composition (the law of gravity).
5. Supported Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the universe and challenged traditional views about Earth’s place in it.
6. Wrote several books including “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” and “The Starry Messenger” which outlined his discoveries with the telescope.
7. Died on January 8, 1642 in Arcetri near Florence, Italy at age 77


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.

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.


Isaac Newton was an English mathematician and physicist who lived from 1642 to 1727. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and is credited with laying the foundations for classical mechanics, optics, calculus, and other branches of mathematics. His work on gravity led to the development of the law of universal gravitation, which states that every object in the universe attracts every other object with a force proportional to their masses. He also made important contributions to optics, including his famous experiment involving a prism and a beam of light. Newton’s work revolutionized science and laid the groundwork for modern physics.

Top facts and stats about Isaac Newton:

1. Developed the laws of motion and universal gravitation
2. Formulated the theory of calculus
3. Built the first practical reflecting telescope
4. Published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687
5. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1672
6. Knighted by Queen Anne in 1705
7. President of the Royal Society from 1703 to 1727


Albert Einstein was a German-born scientist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. He developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics, and made major contributions to quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and cosmology. His work also had a profound impact on philosophy and other areas of human knowledge. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. He is remembered for his remarkable intelligence and his groundbreaking discoveries that changed our understanding of the universe.

Top facts and stats about Albert Einstein:

1. Nobel Prize in Physics (1921)
2. Developed the Theory of Relativity
3. Time Magazine’s Person of the Century (1999)
4. Authored over 300 scientific papers and 150 non-scientific works
5. Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1921)
6. Born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. Died April 18, 1955 in Princeton, New Jersey
7. Attempted to devise a unified field theory by generalizing his geometric theory of gravitation to include electromagnetism


The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were American aviation pioneers who invented the airplane. They are credited with making the first successful powered flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Their invention revolutionized transportation and opened up a new era of air travel. The Wright brothers’ legacy continues to this day, as their pioneering work has been recognized by numerous awards and honours.

Top facts and stats about Wright brothers:

1. Wilbur and Orville Wright were the first to successfully fly a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903.
2. The brothers designed and built their own airplane from scratch in just two years.
3. Their first flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
4. The Wright Brothers held the world’s first pilot licence, issued by the Aero Club of France in 1908.
5. They made over 1,000 successful flights between 1905 and 1911 with their Wright Flyer III plane that could stay aloft for up to 39 minutes at a time and travel distances of up to 24 miles (38 km).
6. In 1909, they opened the world’s first civilian flying school near Dayton, Ohio where they trained more than 100 pilots including Harriet Quimby who became America’s first female aviator in 1911.


Marie Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish-French physicist and chemist who made groundbreaking discoveries in the field of radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. Her work on radiation led to major advances in medical treatments for cancer and other diseases. She also founded the Radium Institute, which continues her research today. Her legacy lives on as an inspiration for women scientists around the world.

Top facts and stats about Marie Curie:

1. First woman to win a Nobel Prize (1903)
2. First person and only woman to win two Nobel Prizes (1903, 1911)
3. Discovered two elements: polonium and radium
4. Developed the theory of radioactivity
5. Coined the term “radioactivity”
6. Founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw
7. Awarded numerous honours including the Davy Medal (1903), Matteucci Medal (1904), Elliot Cresson Medal (1911), and Albert Einstein Award (1920).


Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and early versions of the electric light bulb, have had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He established the first industrial research laboratory.

Top facts and stats about Thomas Edison:

1. Invented the phonograph, light bulb, and motion picture camera.
2. Held over 1,000 patents for his inventions.
3. Co-founded General Electric Company in 1892.
4. Known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park.”
5. Experimented with electric cars and batteries.
6. Had little formal education, but was a voracious reader.
7. Worked tirelessly, often sleeping only a few hours per night.
8. Was deaf in one ear due to a childhood accident.
9. Advocated for direct current (DC) electricity over alternating current (AC).
10. Died at age 84 after suffering complications from diabetes.


Johannes Gutenberg, born around 1400 in Mainz, Germany, was a visionary inventor and printer who revolutionized the world of communication. His most significant achievement was the development of the printing press around 1440, a groundbreaking invention that played a pivotal role in the Renaissance, Reformation, and the spread of knowledge. Gutenberg’s press utilized movable metal type, allowing for the mass production of books, pamphlets, and other written materials.

His invention marked a turning point in history, democratizing access to information and fostering cultural and intellectual growth. The Gutenberg Bible, printed in the mid-1450s, became one of the first major books produced using movable type and symbolized the onset of the printing revolution.


William Shakespeare, born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, is one of the most celebrated playwrights and poets in history. His life remains shrouded in mystery, with sparse records of his personal affairs. Nevertheless, his literary legacy is monumental. Shakespeare’s works, comprising 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and several poems, have transcended time and culture, profoundly influencing literature, theatre, and language.

His plays explore the complexities of the human condition, delving into themes of love, jealousy, ambition, power, and betrayal. Among his most famous works are “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Macbeth,” and “Othello,” each a masterpiece of dramatic storytelling and psychological depth. Shakespeare’s language is renowned for its richness, wit, and poetic beauty, shaping the English language itself with countless phrases and expressions still in use today. Despite his enduring fame, much of Shakespeare’s life remains a mystery, adding to the allure of his legend. He died in 1616, leaving behind a literary legacy that continues to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.


While this series is issued for that stalwart of the coin world, Niue Island, the obverse is anything but generic. The muse on this face is realised to a standard that matches the reverse face of many of the world’s most iconic bullion coins, like Britannia, Germania, and Walking Liberty. The flowing hair and gown are familiar tropes of this style, and are expertly realised here. The sun rays are also a common theme. The star border is a little too reminiscent of US coins, but looks good regardless.

The use of a faux shield to hold the national emblem of Niue is a nice touch. One of the best obverse designs in the bullion market, we think, quite capable of being the primary face in its own right.


$2 NZD (Niue) 31.1 grams of 0.999 silver 39.0 mm B/Unc. 10,000
$2 NZD (Niue) 31.1 grams of 0.999 silver 39.0 mm Proof 100
$250 NZD (Niue) 31.1 grams of 0.999 gold 32.0 mm B/Unc. 100