The legend of King Arthur comes to life with the first two in the Czech Mints four-coin proof silver set

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.

MINTS DESCRIPTION – MORDRED

Although after fifteen centuries of human imagination it is impossible to distinguish between fact and fiction, a man named Arthur evidently lived. At the beginning of the 6th century AD, he was to lead Britain’s defense against the Saxons and he was to lay the foundations of an island empire that has been preserved to this day. He was supposed to be the ideal of a medieval ruler – a model of chivalry, courage and honor. Therefore, it is no wonder that a figure from Celtic history was accepted by Christians as their own. Everyone who told Arthur’s story then added something. The king experienced new adventures and gained new allies and opponents.

Arthur’s most loyal comrades-in-arms were knights who sat with him at a round table where everyone was equal. Among them were, for example, the devoted Lancelot, the valiant Gawain, the pure Galahad, but also the insidious Mordred, to whom Arthur entrusted the rule during his absence. Unfortunately, the king had no idea that the knight was in fact his illegitimate child, who despised him and secretly plotted against him. Mordred immediately took advantage of the situation, took control of Kamelot Castle and declared himself the new ruler of Britain. Both kings then clashed in a battle at Camlann. Arthur knocked down Mordred thanks to his miraculous sword Excalibur, but he himself was mortally wounded…

MINTS DESCRIPTION – LADY OF THE LAKE

Two legendary blades, which are often confused, are associated with Arthur’s fate. The first is known as the sword in the stone. Legend says that this weapon was struck in a rock, from which, only the true heir to the throne could free it according to the prophecy of the wizard Merlin. A series of noble lords tried in vain, however, the simple squire Arthur, who had no idea of his noble origins, succeeded. When King Arthur broke his sword in battle with King Pellinor, Merlin led him to the Lady of the Lake.

This fairy gave Arthur a new sword, which provided his owner with extraordinary power – he made him an invincible warrior and an indisputable king of all the British. A miraculous blade called Excalibur served Arthur faithfully for a long time and helped him to overthrow his fateful sock Mordred in the battle of Camlann. However, the king himself was mortally wounded, and since no one else was worthy of holding his legendary weapon, it was returned to the lake.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $1 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 37.0 mm
FINISH Proof
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 1,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
CZECH MINT