Many of us remember the panic when news of an explosion at a Soviet nuclear power station was broadcast. After decades of the Cold War, the irony that a nuclear disaster had occurred from a civilian source, and not a military one, was not lost on people. What wasn’t known, however, was just how bad it was at the time, and just how close we came to an outright catastrophe. I cannot recommend enough, the HBO miniseries, which does an incredible job of telling the story.
Not a subject we see a lot of in the coin world, the Mint of Gdańsk’s new release is a textbook example of how to do so in a sympathetic, and non-sensationalist way. The star of the show here is obviously the incredibly brave workers who volunteered, even knowing it was likely a slow death sentence, to clean up the site of radioactive debris. Depicted spraying down that debris by hand, fully suited, and with the partially demolished station in the background, it’s an excellent encapsulation of the clean-up process, even down to the helicopters that were part of the rush to cover the exposed reactor. The icing on the cake is that all of this takes place as a reflection in the lens of another worker’s mask. Very well done, and enhanced by the clever use of high-relief to define spaces.
There’s also a lightly applied glow-in-the-dark colour application, which you can see if you move the slider on the image below. Again, it manages to avoid gimmicky, and actually adds to the feel. The obverse has a silhouette-style bas-relief look, with trees stripped bare of foliage, and the now iconic Ferris wheel featured prominently. This is a Niue issue, but eschews the usual effigy of the Queen with the national emblem/public seal, instead.
Chernobyl is a two-ounce, 0.999 silver coin, with an antique finish and a 45 mm diameter. It comes presented in a wooden box, with the obligatory Certificate of Authenticity. The mintage of 500 pieces is now typical for the format, and seems to be a good balance these days. This is said to be the first in a new series called ‘Human Tragedies’, and there are plenty of those through history (New Coke, for a start!), so we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next. On this evidence, it will be a series to keep a close eye on. A great start. Available to order now, with shipping commencing in March.