Singapore’s iconic Merlion is celebrated on a new high-relief shaped silver coin

Most countries have their national identity personified and many of those have appeared on coins over the centuries. The United Kingdom has Britannia, France has Marianne and the United States has Liberty. For Singapore, that symbol is the Merlion. With the top half of a lion and the bottom of a fish, the resemblance to the more common mermaid is abundantly clear, but the merlionis quite unique regardless.

Singaporean dealer SK Bullion is issuing its first commemorative coin and it’s an impressive debut. Coin Invest Trust has blazed a path with some extraordinary high-relief shaped coins over the last couple of years, aided by their ground-breaking SmartMinting technology, but they aren’t the only game in town. Formed in the shape of the Merlion, this one has all the hallmarks of something different.

Struck in two ounces of fine silver and then antique-finished, the coin is a fine reproduction of the 70-ton original that resides near the mouth of the Singapore River. The obverse carries the emblem of the Republic of Chad, the African state the coin is issued for. All of the inscriptions are tucked away on the obverse – something we applaud heartily as it keeps the main reverse face uncluttered.

Packaging has been chosen wisely. The latex ‘floating frame’ has long been a favourite here and they suit this kind of unusually shaped coin particularly well. Everything has been well themed and the price of $175.00 USD is reasonable enough given the limited mintage of 908 pieces. We’d suspect that many of these will remain in Singapore, making availability around the rest of the world quite limited. Available shortly, this is an interesting and well realised addition to the coin market.

2018 SINGAPORE MERLION SILVER COIN

THE MERLION

A mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, the Merlion is considered the national personification of Singapore, much like the eagle is for the US, or Britannia is for the UK. The fish body represents Singapore’s origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means “sea town” in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore’s original name—Singapura—meaning “lion city” or “kota singa”.

The symbol was designed by Alec Fraser-Brunner, a member of the Souvenir Committee and curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium, for the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in use from 26 March 1964 to 1997 and has been its trademarked symbol since 20 July 1966. Although the STB changed their logo in 1997, the STB Act continues to protect the Merlion symbol.

On 15 September 1972, then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew officiated the installation ceremony of the Merlion statue. The original Merlion statue used to stand at the mouth of the Singapore River, at the tip of the current The Fullerton Waterboat House Garden with Anderson Bridge as its background.

It was conceptualised by the vice-chancellor of the University of Singapore then, Kwan Sai Kheong. Made from November 1971 to August 1972 by the late Singapore sculptor, Lim Lang Xin, it measures 8.6 metres high and weighs 70 tons. The project cost about S$165,000. In April 2002, the statue was moved to its current location in Merlion Park, near the mouth of Singapore River.

SPECIFICATION

Art Mint ad
NAME 2018 SINGAPORE MERLION
DENOMINATION 1,000 Francs CFA
COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 32.40 x 65.00 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Shaped high-relief
MINTAGE 908
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
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SK BULLION