A coin that was announced a few month’s ago, the second in the Mint of Poland’s Winter Palace series of art-architectural coins has recently become available. The first coin came out in 2014 and featured the Winter Palace of Saint Petersburg. It seemed to be well liked, although discussion about it was muted compared to the Tiffany and Mineral Arts series. Following a similar pattern to most of this genre of coins, it was an antique-finished 2oz high-relief coin with a mineral insert, first popularised by Coin Invest Trusts’ seminal Tiffany Art series that launched back in 2004. The insert on the coin, in that case a red Swarovski crystal, was unusual in sitting quite proud of the struck surface, unlike many contemporaries that sit flush or even inside the coin thickness.

This years release in no different in that regard. Specification-wise there are no surprises here, but the Mint of Poland has chosen to use this series to experiment with different inserts, in colour, shape and composition. The angular red crystal of 2014 has given way to an elongated teardrop shaped piece of purple amethyst. Amethyst is simply a purple variety of ultra-common mineral, Quartz, and has been used for decoration since at least Ancient Greek times, and likely much sooner. The single piece extends proud of both surfaces of the coin to quite a degree and is around half the height of the coin in length; despite the colour, this is no shrinking violet..

The strike is, as you’d expect from the Mennica Polska, detailed, intricate and expertly done. The obverse with the depictions of the brilliant Sala Terrana is the standout for us, but personally I think the insert is simply too large and prominent for the coin and intrudes more than it should do into the design. Many have expressed a love for it, so clearly mine is just one opinion amongst many. It’s certainly an impressive piece as so many of these coins are; we’ve often said that we believe the quality of art-architecture coins is well above the numismatic norm.

Available now from a select few dealers worldwide like First Coin, Powercoin, Top World Coins etc, prices seem to be a little lower than the last coin at around €220/$240US, the coin is well packaged in a good box and comes with the obligatory Certificate of Authenticity telling you which of the 666 coins you have.

THE BELVEDERE PALACE

The Belvedere was built by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the brilliant military commander whose strategies helped vanquish the Turks in 1683. Situated on a gently sloping hill, the Belvedere consists of two palaces linked by a formal garden laid out in the French style of Dominique Girard. The huge garden is sited on three levels, linked by two elaborate cascading waterfalls. Different areas of the garden are meant to convey a complicated series of Classical allusions: the lower part of the garden represents the domain of the Four Elements, the centre is Parnassus and the upper section is Olympus.

Standing at the highest point of the garden, the Upper Belvedere has a more elaborate facade than the Lower Belvedere, with lavish stone ornamentation, statues and balustrades. The domed copper roofs of the end pavilions were designed to resemble Turkish tents – an allusion to Prince Eugene’s many victories over the Turks. In fact, the whole palace was intended to be a symbolic reflection of the prince’s power and glory, and was appropriate to the grand festive occasions for which it was originally used. The many impressive interiors include the Sala Terrena with four Herculanean figures supporting the ceiling, and a grand sweeping staircase, the ornately decorated chapel, and the opulent Marble Hall.

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$2 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 62.2 g 50.0 mm ANTIQUE 666 YES / YES
MINT OF POLAND