The Czech Mint tells the story of Europe’s journey to the New World with its ‘Discovery of America’ coin series

We’ve long been fans of the Czech Mints numerous small series of coins themed around everything from nature, to literature, with a fair bit of history thrown in for good measure. Examples, like their Inventions of Leonardo, and Animal Champions, have always impressed with their fine designs, and most of all, the choice of subject. Their latest series looks at the Discovery of America from a European perspective. Yes, we know that man had lived on the continent for millennia, but that takes nothing away from the bravery of the adventurers that set out on these quests.

The first of them was the Norseman, Leif Eriksson, famed for his naval passage to the Eastern coast of North America. He is depicted in side-portrait form, wearing a Viking helmet, sans the ludicrous horns that have no basis in reality. The background field is covered with a stylised sea, upon which sit two Viking Drakkars, a form of longship. It’s quite incredible that these relatively small, open vessels could survive the perils of the North Atlantic, but survive they did, carrying Eriksson’s party across some of the most treacherous waters on Earth. It’s a very pretty, stylised composition by the medal maker Mgr. Petr HorĂ¡k.

We don’t have images of the obverse yet, but it’s described as having a similar wave pattern on it, along with the obligatory effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. It will be a common one to the series, as will the general layout of the reverse face if the render of the second coin, Christopher Columbus, is any indicator. The coin comes boxed with a very neat booklet filled with images and history, always a nice touch with a coin like this.

There’s a one-ounce silver version with a mintage of just 1,000 pieces, and a quarter-ounce gold variant, capped at 500. There are at least two more coins coming this year, with the imminent arrival of the aforementioned Columbus, and with Amerigo Vespucci landing ashore in October. A nice series, sure to prove popular across the Atlantic.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

When a Viking named Thorvald committed voluntary manslaughter and was banished from Norway, little did he know that he had ushered in an unprecedented era of overseas discovery. He settled in Iceland, where he started a family, but like father like son – his son Erik Thorvaldsson committed double murder. He could have redeemed himself from this grave sin by exile, but where to go from the last outpost of the Viking world? The outlaw decided to venture into the unknown and, as a result, discovered Greenland. Three sons accompanied Erik into exile. Impressed by their father’s voyage of discovery, they decided to follow in his footsteps.

The second-born, Leif Eriksson, ventured even further west, and eventually fortune smiled on him. He named the unknown landmass Helluland. It was most likely Baffin Island in northern Canada. Not content with the barren wasteland, the ambitious Leif continued to navigate his vessel south to what is now the Labrador Peninsula. The Greenland-born Northerners, who knew the coniferous forests only from stories, called the new place with its deep woods Markland – Forest Land. Eventually they arrived at what is now Newfoundland, which they named Vinland – the Land of Wine or the Land of Pasture. Only there did Leif, called Happy, leave the ship and become the first European to reach America. Surprised by the richness of the local countryside, the Vikings established a settlement, wintered there, and the following year set out for home to tell the wonderful news of a rich promised land.

Erik did not live to see his son’s triumphant return. Leif took over the throne of Greenland from him and made no further ocean voyages. But his two brothers continued to explore the new world. The elder Thorvald met the local natives for the first time and lost his life in a violent quarrel. The younger Thorstein got ill on the way and died. It was Thorstein’s wife Guthrith who eventually made it to Leif’s settlement. With her new husband, she had a boy named Snorri – the first European to be born in the future America.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $2 NZD (Niue) $10 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 7.78 grams
DIMENSIONS 37.0 mm 22.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None None
MINTAGE 1,000 500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes