Republic of Chad debuts intriguing silver coin series ‘Gargoyles and Grotesques’

A new silver coin series has just debuted from Ibex Coins with a subject we’ve not seen done before, Gargoyles and Grotesques. Featuring designs based on the myriad, fantastical creatures that adorn many of the world’s most iconic cathedrals and medieval buildings, the series will take a famous example as the basis for a unique design.

The first coin takes The Decay, a gargoyle on the Washington National Cathedral for its inspiration. Not a copy of the original statue, the design takes elements of the original and makes it more dynamic, almost like the kind of artwork you’d find on the cover of an Iron Maiden album. Set against a backdrop depicting the cathedral itself, it’s a packed piece of artwork. Just one inscription, the series name, is present on the reverse face helping to keep it free of what can sometimes be an annoying distraction.

As the coin is issued for the Republic of Chad, that countries coat of arms adorns the obverse, along with all the required inscriptions. The emblem actually fits the theme of the coin very well. The coin is struck to a high-relief in a troy ounce of fine silver. Two versions of the coin are available with a combined mintage of just 999 pieces.

The most common version has an antiqued finish and there will be 799 of those. The final 200 coins will have a proof finish. Packaging seems to be identical for both and will include a serialised certificate of authenticity. The certificate in the image below lists a number from 999, but the final shipping certs will list # of 200 for the proof and # of 799 for the antiqued variant. Available to order now, this has the makings of a popular series. It can be purchased from First Coin Company and PowerCoin, as well as from Bullionstop/Ibex.


Gargoyles are carved grotesques (decorative mythical figures) used high on the side of buildings to channel water away from the main masonry facade in times of heavy rainfall. Water falling on a roof would be directed to a gargoyle whereupon it would enter a channel into it and exit through a spout in the mouth. Where no water-dispelling function is incorporated, the carving is simply called a grotesque.

Originating with the French term Gargouille (gullet or throat), it’s linked to the seventh century legend of a former chancellor of the Merovingian king Clotaire II called St. Romanus who subdued a monster called Gargouille. Said to have been a Game of Thrones type dragon with batlike wings, a long neck, and the ability to breathe fire from its mouth, St. Romanus subdued, captured and burned the creature. Because its head and neck would not burn due to being tempered by its own fire breath, the head was mounted on the walls of the newly built church in Rouen to scare off evil spirits.

Popular in Medieval times, similar adornments go way back to the Ancient Egyptians who often used lion-head shaped monuments to perform a similar function. They passed from common use over the last few centuries as guttering and downpipes replaced them at much less cost and without the possibility of having one fall off and kill a hapless parishioner. There are still countless stunning examples in existence like those adorning the exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.


Washington National Cathedral, or its full title, The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, is a Neo-Gothic cathedral (modeled on the 14th century English Gothic style) that was completed in 1990 and is located in Washington, D.C.

Said to be the sixth largest cathedral in the world and the second largest in the USA, it’s the seat of both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Washington.  In 2009, nearly 400,000 visitors toured the structure, helping to pay for repair work caused by an earthquake in 2011. In 2007, it was ranked third on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

Numerous grotesques and gargoyles adorn the exterior, most of them designed by the carvers; one of the more famous of these is a caricature of then-master carver Roger Morigi on the north side of the nave. There were also two competitions held for the public to provide designs to supplement those of the carvers. The second of these produced the famous Darth Vader Grotesque which is high on the northwest tower, sculpted by Jay Hall Carpenter and carved by Patrick J. Plunkett. The ‘Decay’ gargoyle depicted on the coin is one of 112 that adorn the building and is one of the earlier ones, having been installed in the 1960’s.


DENOMINATION 1,000 Francs CFA 1,000 Francs CFA
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 31.1 grams
DIAMETER 38.61 mm 38.61 mm
FINISH Antique Proof
MODIFICATIONS High-relief High relief
MINTAGE 799 200
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes