Our love for the mythical beasts of ancient lore has never been higher. With modern mega-budget movies like the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter drawing in huge audiences, as well as the new legends that are inherent parts of the various superhero universes, the weird and fantastical remains a popular escape from the day to day life most of us lead today. There’s no substitute for the old legends, however, dreamed up in a time where belief trumped logic in the popular mindset.
Tapping into that, the modern numismatic world has brought forth some superb coins for collectors to hunt down, but outside of a few bullion coins, most have sat and the higher end of the market. The Czech Mint has debuted a new series that is eminently more affordable and will be made up of twelve issues to be released from now until 2022 at the rate of four per year.
The first two coins choose old favourites – The Phoenix and the Dragon. Each has a consistent border in the old Hellenic style, with a striking depiction of the mythical beast in question filling the central area. The style of both is very similar, despite the employment of different artists for each one. Czech Mint regular sculptor, Asamat Baltev is responsible for the Dragon, done in a European style, while Maria Filova did the Phoenix. Baltev is also responsible for the common obverse. Both look like fine pieces, eschewing the usual gimmickry for a simpler, more classical look.
Two versions of each design are on offer. The first is the classic 1oz fine silver (circa €63), and the second a gold coin coming in at a tenth of an ounce (circa €282). With the rising price of gold this year, the smaller format may well turn out to be a wise choice, especially when there are twelve coins in a series, but it does mean the diameter is lacking. Each coin comes in one of the small and neat cardboard boxes which buyers of Austrian Mint coins will recognise. They’re nice and compact, so easy to store, and include a Certificate of Authenticity. The silver mintage is capped at 1,000 pieces, with the gold at half that. Both are available now.
Those interested in collecting the set may want to pick up one of the folders that can hold them all. One is on sale for each of the two variants, although they remain fundamentally the same. They look good, but at €37.10 each, a little price in our view. The next two coins to come this year will be the Harpy and the Griffin. Next year will see Hydra, Unicorn, Cerebus and Centaur released, follwed in 2022 by the Minotaur, Sphinx, Pegasus, and Scarab.
PHOENIX: We know the word phoenix from Greek, but mythical birds endowed with supernatural power occur in the mythology of many nations. It is called Bennu in Egypt, Garuda and Bherunda in India, Simorgh in Persia, Paskunji in Georgia, Anqa in Arabia, Konrul in Turkey, Me Byi Karmo in Tibet, Fenghuang and Zhu Que in China, Hō-Japons in Japan and Firebird in Slavic folklore. Each of them represent different values – while Fenghuang expresses the harmony of feminine and masculine principle, Anqa was bird of prey that was destroyed by God… But all these birds have one thing in common – they symbolize the eternal cycle of rebirth. This cycle takes the following form: the old phoenix burns itself to death and dies every five centuries in order to rise from the ashes in full force.
According to medal maker Maria Filová DiS., the burning Phoenix features several feathered birds – the beak and claws of the eagle, the swan’s neck, and the peacock’s tail. The creature is accompanied by an English inscription PHOENIX. The coin does not have a classic coin frame, however, the relief is surrounded by decorative ornaments that pervade the entire collector´s cycle. Since the Czech Mint coins are issued with a foreign license of the island of Niue, the obverse side bears the name and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the nominal value of 5 DOLLARS (NZD) and the year of the issue 2020.
DRAGON: Dragons are majestic creatures that rule by immense power – they fly and spew fire. They occur in a variety of forms according to legends – for example, some have one head and others have several of them. They were depicted with a snake body, a dog’s head, lion’s feet, and bird wings in the early Middle Ages. Dragons began to dominate the characteristic lizard features in the 14th century, and they began to resemble bats thanks to their membranous wings. Where did this form come from? The answer can be found in times of dinosaurs when flying reptiles ruled the sky. It is possible that our ancestors discovered their fossilized bones and the human imagination did the rest. Or is it possible that dinosaurs did not become extinct 66 million years ago, as we believe? Could some Mesozoic reptiles survive and compete with legendary dragon-beaters such as St. George?
The medal maker Asamat Baltev, DiS. depicted the dragon as a winged lizard that spewes fire. The creature is accompanied by an English inscription DRAGON on the reverse side of the coin. It is interesting that the coin does not have a classic coin frame, however, the relief is surrounded by decorative ornaments that occur in the entire collector´s cycle. Since the Czech Mint coins are issued with a foreign license of the island of Niue, they bear the name and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the nominal value of 2 DOLLARS (NZD) and the year of the issue 2020 on the obverse side of the coin.
|DENOMINATION||$2 NZD (Niue)||$5 NZD (Niue)|
|COMPOSITION||0.999 silver||0.9999 gold|
|WEIGHT||31.1 grams||3.11 grams|
|DIMENSIONS||37.0 mm||16.0 mm|
|BOX / C.O.A.||Yes / Yes||Yes / Yes|
“twelve issues to be released from now until 2022 at the rate of three per year.” – looks like 4 per year :))
Maths is the first thing to go when you’re locked up in quarantine… 😉