One of the most potent stories in British history, the story of King Arthur and his sword Excalibur has permeated popular culture to this day. Unlikely to have any more than the most tenuous of links to historical reality, the legend we know today were added in the Middle Ages, which came from earlier, unreliable sources like the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas.
According to legend, King Arthur led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) had Arthur establishing an empire over Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Gaul. Many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey’s Historia, including Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, Arthur’s wife Guinevere, the sword Excalibur, Arthur’s conception at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann, and final rest in Avalon.
The Czech Mint is releasing a four coin set through 2021 that highlights some of the more iconic parts of the legend. The first coin, King Arthur & Mordred, came out in January, and the mint has just issued the second, Excalibur & the Lady in the Lake. We’ve seen the first coin in hand and it’s a fine looking piece, so we’re hopeful the set will grow into something worthy of the legend. The artwork is done by Czech Mint stalwart Asamat Baltaev, who has done some really fine designs for them over the last few years, like the Leonardo da Vinci and the Jules Verne sets. They have an almost pseudo-medieval look.
Issued for Niue, these are one-ounce fine silver coins struck to a proof finish. Packaging employs the mints latest tin/sleeve combo which are excellent, but there’s also a very neat collection tin that holds all four and sells for under €10. We wish more mints made these available for their limited series. Two more to come this year, and you can see sketches of the pair on one side of the collection tin insert further down. A fine looking set, not too expensive, and with a relatively small 1,000 mintage. Available to order now, the first coin is already shipping.