Spectres brings Hannibal Barca, the Roman Empire’s greatest nemesis, to life in a high-relief silver coin

It isn’t many people that make their names fighting a behemoth, but Hannibal Barca, the renowned Carthaginian general, is remembered as one of history’s greatest military strategists, particularly for his audacious and innovative tactics during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), a conflict that pitted his native Carthage, against Rome. Hannibal’s most famous achievement was his audacious march across the Alps in 218 BC, leading his army and war elephants into Italy.

This bold manoeuvre caught the Romans off guard, leading to victories at the battles of Trebia, and Trasimene (called the greatest ambush in history). It was at Cannae that he demonstrated a decisive superiority over Rome, and despite being outnumbered 50,000 to over 85,000, he annihilated the Romans, with barely 10,000 of them, mostly those not directly involved in the battle, surviving. Despite these victories, he shied away from attacking Rome itself, and some 14 years later, was himself defeated in Tunisia at the Battle of Zama, by Roman General Scipio Africanus, ending the Second Punic War, and leaving Carthage fully subordinate to Rome.

The coin, the first to come directly from Spectres, known for their large body of work with Precious Metal Collectors, Bullion Exchanges, and The Treasurists, is a classic two-ounce silver strike, packed with high-relief on both faces, and having an antiqued finish. It has a similar style to some of the earlier issues in the ‘Nine Worthies’ series, but shows some considerable bumps in detail and relief.

The reverse face depicts Hannibal, wielding a Carthaginian Falcata sword. In the background are the war elephants, something immediately associated with Hannibal, so there’s no mistaking who this is. The date of issue is inscribed on the front of the howdah, and the whole thing exhibits a fine use of depth. The obverse has a war elephant rearing up, trying to crush a Roman formation, called a Testudo (Tortoise). Carthaginian warriors with long spears try to skewer them from above. It gives a good idea of just how terrifying facing these animals in battle would have been, although they were notoriously unreliable.

It’s an impressive debut, full of clever touches, with things like the Falcata sword, and the Testudo, indicating much thought was put into its design. This is the first in a series called ‘Masters of War’, so one with a huge choice of subjects for release over the next few years. I’d love to see an Admiral Horatio Nelson one, for example, giving us a view of the Battle of Trafalgar. Packaging looks good, and the mintage of 500 is typical for the genre and weight. Available now.

DENOMINATION 10,000 Francs CFA (Republic of Chad)
COMPOSITION 62.2 g of 0.999 silver
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, Blue enamel