The famous statue, the Lion of Lucerne, inspires two silver coins taking markedly different approaches to the subject

Carved into a rock relief in Lucerne, Switzerland, the Lion Monument was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen, and sculpted by Lukas Ahorn, in 1820-21. The subject was a strange and controversial one at the time, as it commemorated the massacre of the Swiss Guards in the service of French King Louis XVI, almost 30 years prior during the French Revolution. Hundreds were killed as they fought the revolutionaries, who vastly outnumbered them. Many were executed after capture, in what was a particularly bloody time in French history.

The statue is carved into the sandstone, and is around ten metres in length, and six metres high. The lion has been mortally wounded by a spear, yet he still tries to protect the shield of the French Royal Family. Beside him stands the Swiss shield. The controversy comes from the celebration of mercenaries protecting a foreign king of dubious repute, but it was a fine example of honourable sacrifice, irrespective of the worthiness of the people it was done for. The statue, and its setting, are quite stunning, a devastatingly poignant piece of art, fully deserving of its reputation, and a fine subject for numismatics. In a coincidental twist, two producers have issued coins this week.


Of the two coins here, this is the more traditionally styled, sporting an antiqued finish, which appears to suit the subject particularly well. We can’t tell the level of relief exhibited here from the images we have, but we suspect it will be impressive enough. The detail looks gorgeous, and everything is perfectly legible, right down to the inscriptions above, which means ‘To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss’, and below (the dates of the action in France). Any inscriptions to do with the coin issue are thankfully kept to the obverse, out of the way.

The obverse has a lakeland scene, which we believe is close to the location of the statue, and depicts a period scene, not a contemporary one. There’s an attractive border, and the inscribed issue details are kept nicely ringfenced. While the appearance of the coin is quite traditional, its form isn’t. The coin employs the same one-ounce of silver as the Powercoin effort, but does so in conjunction with five ounces of copper, much like PMC’s Bi-Metal Max techniques. The end result is a huge 65 mm diameter, and plenty of relief, with the price tag of a smaller coin. The image at top gives you some idea of the difference in size. A really nice coin, celebrating an outstanding piece of art.

UPDATE: Added some new images kindly provided to us,

1,000 Francs CFA (Cameroon) 31.1 g 0.999 silver / 5 oz Copper 65 mm Antique 300


The offering from Italian producer, Powercoin, is very much in their style, utilising all the technical prowess they’re known for, usually in collaboration with CIT and their excellent smartminting, although we’ve seen nothing to suggest that is employed here. Struck in an ounce of silver, it goes for enhanced depth over diameter, coming in at 33 mm across, and for good reason. The statue sits in a hole in the rock face, and has been perfectly replicated on the reverse face.

The level of depth for this coin weight is quite extraordinary, and the coin is a superb interpretation of the original sculpture. As we said, quite different to the other producer’s approach, but no less impressive. The obverse is a simple effigy of King Charles III, for the Cook Islands. It comes boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, and is available to order now.

$5 CID (Cook Islands) 31.1 g of 0.9999 silver 33 mm Proof (multi-finish) 499