Regular readers will know that the many mythologies of the world’s cultures have been a huge part of the modern coin industry, just as they were in ancient times. The genre has attracted some of the best coin artists working today and we’ve seen some quite outstanding designs as a result. The Mint of Poland, CIT, Numiscollect, Precious Metal Collectors, Mint XXI and more, have used the genre to raise standards to previously unheard of levels.
However, the choice of subjects within that genre has been heavily biased, firstly towards the Norse and Egyptian gods, then the Greco-Romans, and recently the Chinese. We’re seeing the wings spread wider of late, with the MesoAmerican and East Asian cultures getting attention, but the fascinating tales of the Eastern European Slavic world have largely gone untold. The Mint of Poland has a series called Slavic Gods, but it isn’t one of their best, but now the Mint of Gdansk have jumped in with a superb new release – the first in the Slavic Bestiary series.
The Slavic peoples have their own unique beliefs, not centred around the clouds or the deep earth, as with the Greco-Romans, but rather in the forests and rivers around them. The Rusalka, the subject of the first coin, is a perfect example of that (more lower down). The aquatic, mermaid-like entity is depicted on the coin in water and it’s quite stunning. There’s a beautiful sense of movement in a scene that fills the reverse face, all brought to life in high relief. The blue wash to the antique finish gives a great backdrop to the Rusalka, and the coloured lily looks terrific. There’s so much going on it’s hard to take it all in at first glance. The deep-sea fish in the background are a nice touch.
The obverse has a wide border in which a montage of beastie bits and habitats are intermingled into a whole. Given the design, we’re going to assume this will be common to the series moving forward. It’s one of the best we’ve seen. Packaging is pretty standard – a wooden box with a themed slipcover, and there’s a certificate of authenticity for each of the 500 to be struck. At three ounces, this isn’t a budget item, but it’s a superb debut for a series looking at an overlooked aspect of the world’s ancient and medieval superstitions. Available now directly from Mennica Gdanska (at an introductory price), or from participating dealers.