The tragic-heroic tale of Prometheus forms the basis of the Mint of Poland’s latest Ancient Myth coin
Continuing with their impressive track record of premium coins showcasing themes from the ancient world, the Mint of Poland has now launched the third in its ‘Ancient Myths’ series. Of course, it’s another beautiful issue, and again, we’re going to look like we’re on the payroll as we give our opinion of it.
This series started a couple of years ago with the release of the gorgeous Trojan Horse. An impressive visual style and an inset wooden shield made this coin one of those that focused attention on the genre, and one that took what the Perth Mint started with its Gods of Olympus series, that bit further. Followed in 2018 by a Minotaur issue that while excellent, didn’t quite reach the same heights. This year sees the tragic and heroic tale of the Titan Prometheus showcased, and it’s another extraordinary piece of work.
The tale is of the being that gave mankind the gift of fire and was punished by the god Zeus by having his liver repeatedly eaten by an eagle. The way it has been depicted on the coin is an object lesson in coin design. Ostensibly it’s simple enough – just an eagle snacking on the innards of a bound figure – but the use of perspective and anatomy, of both the bird and the human, is literally top drawer. Examine the way the outstretched hands look like they’re about to explode from the coin face. The eagle isn’t just plonked in, it’s an integral part of the action, and the face is filled by the scene without looking like it had to be compromised to do so. The red-gold plated chain seems a little randomly chosen as a detail, but will likely be subtle enough (we only have the ArtCAM render currently).
Only basic artwork for the obverse at present, and this one looks decent enough, although not matching the high of the Trojan Horse coin. Not really a major criticism given that one ranks amongst our most admired obverse designs in AgAuNEWS history. A box, a certificate, and a mintage of 500 are all typical of the genre and it should start to ship late in August. If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s an ultra high relief strike, rimless, antique finished and two ounces in weight. We can’t see regular collectors of the genre wanting to miss this one either. Quite outstanding, this Magikos Coins distributed release is available to pre order now from the usual dealers (check out our Where to Buy below).
THE TITAN PROMETHEUS
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/ )
|MODIFICATIONS||High-relief, red gilding|
|BOX / COA||Yes / Yes|
I agree, the obverse doesn’t fit with the superb designed reverse.
I saw different info on the chain, one dealer claimed in was “brass”.
In any case, I wonder if that one section of chain will be an individual “attachment” adhered to the coin, or will it be just selective gilding over that particular section of the surface.
If it is the latter, keeping the gilding within its intended borders could be somewhat difficult especially with all those small chain links.
It is something they haven’t perfected yet, as you can see the gilding overlap on many of their previous releases like the Ares, Poseidon, Zeus and Hades coins.
Going with a separate individual attachment would eliminate that small problem, but I think any separate attachment would sort of “gimmick up” the coin as well.
No, definitely red gold. I agree, the gilding will be a tough one to pull off. I think I might have gone with the liver and claws for the gilding instead of the chain. Hard to say without the software to render it and see for myself.
I don’t like the arrows and lightning bolts. They tried to pull that off with the Roman Gods Jupiter and it looks horrible. I hope they do a revamp of the reverse.
Definitely not a patch on the beautiful Trojan Horse obverse. I’m waiting to see a render or reality before passing final judgement, as these cartoony pictures aren’t a good indicator of the finished article.
Looking closer at the artwork leads me to believe I probably won’t collect this issue because of its obverse design.
Regarding the reverse, why even gilt anything ?
I know the previous 2 issues in this series used wood & copper, but red gold….I’m not a fan of that choice.
Of course, “reality” is a moot point when discussing anything “mythological”.
However if gilding was to be done on this particular coin, choose something a bit more “realistic”, (again reality being a moot point) for the time period, like bronze.
Bronze or even brass would have been more of the appropriate metal to forge chains and the like back then, reality aside.
Also the level of contrast using bronze or brass with the antique finish would be more subtle than a brighter red gold look.
If adding a “precious” metal was one of their goals with this issue, use a better looking platinum or palladium instead, just my opinion of course.
Thanks again Mik for providing the best website out there on modern numismatics.
It is the only place I got to for info on new and upcoming releases, and of course your personal opinions as well.
Bob, yeah man, they should make it a darker color – bronze – like they did for the Trojan horse. And Mik, why not color the claw or some other piece instead of the chain, to keep with the theme of #1 and #2 – more of a brown’ish color. Oh, maybe they can stop doing gods, goddesses. I wrote an email to the Poland Mint asking them if they can see beyond gods and goddesses…I’m sad to say I did buy the Prometheus piece, but may cancel my order. I sold my White and Red horse, and unloaded all the rest of my Poland mint stuff. I’m keeping the Assassins…and the Dragons. They’re unique enough for me to keep. However, take a look at the list of all the gods and goddesses. I told the Poland Mint to stop. Stop with all the gods…and start thinking a little bit more creatively. I told them it is a big world out there, and you don’t need to do 1000 variations of gods and goddesses…and even those that aren’t officially gods/goddesses….they look like gods and goddesses…seriously, enough already MoP. It’s ridiculous.
gods of anger
Gods of Olympus
Four Horsemen (similar style).
Chariot (Similar style)
I’m not tired of the gods, and not from this style. It’s still beautiful.
But, I’m waiting for Gladiators from them.
No disputes beauty. What we have a problem with is too many variations. I hope to god no gladiators for another 5 years!! Please dear Lord
Many of the coins you list are commissioned coins, so the Mint of Poland does what they are being paid to do by a 3rd party.
The mint is not going to say…. “NO, we have done too many of those types” …… but rather they say …… ” We’ll start on the dies as soon as your down payment check is deposited, Thank You””
These distributor companies see what is selling and what is currently popular and will continue to ride that horse until sell outs are no longer a given.
When that happens, the Gods & Goddess designs will no doubt slow to nothing.
I agree, the saturation level is getting high.
Thanks for the insight Bob! Greatly appreciated. And with the Roman Gods, I think we’re about there – that slowing to a halt that is. Lol.
Listen fellows,I still love these issues & bought Assasins,Prometheus(2)& Chariot. You’re over-analyzing this.The new one of the female goddess on a chariot is too much like the recent Chariot w/gilding & so I won’t get that one. But White Horse & Red Horse & Zhao Yun are all phenomenal , really. Too much of a god thing can be a good thing,lol!
I’m not so sure…but time will tell. I say it has a negative impact…of course Mik doing what he’s doing will helpful considerably, to show the progression of each series…otherwise it will be confusing for new and old collectors. What piece goes with what series…Anyway, I hope you’re right Harry…that’s it’s not a big deal. I’m betting that it is a big deal, and am very, very selective about what I buy.
Being very selective is good Bob,I agree. Selecting what you really love is even better. I buy on the assumption that what I buy may never appreciate & may depreciate, but I am happy if they do go up, of course. In five years, some other-themed coins will likely be popular, but I’m still going to love these ones. Bob, the value of coins from all times is a game, not unlike the stock market game, but I can tell that you really love these issues dude.