World Exclusive: Choice Mint pushes to new heights with King Arthur, the first in the Camelot series.

Springing from nowhere back in August 2015, Choice Mint has rapidly earned itself an enviable reputation among the legions of modern coin collectors with its first two coins. Producer of the superb Legends of Asgard series, of which Odin and the Valkyrie have been released to date, they’ve set a high bar for themselves when it comes to producing the ‘difficult second album’ as they say in music circles. Fear not, Arthur is here, with a little help from SmartMinting.

Sticking with the myths and legends of old, the theme of this series is one that is surprisingly under-represented in numismatics, namely the Arthurian legends. Rich in detail, the story of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin and Excalibur have captivated people for over a thousand years. Taking the impressive levels of high relief present in the Legends of Asgard series, this new coin seems to have increased the quality of the detail to a very high level.

Struck in two ounces of fine silver, one ounce lighter than Asgard, King Arthur is to be the first of six coins released two-per-year. The design, in our view at least, surpasses Legends of Asgard, itself widely seen as one of the best series of coins on the market today. Instead of the usual antique finish that is almost universal in this genre, this one incorporates a mix of proof, polished and matte finishes to give the coin depth and an added level of realism. Depicting Arthur, crown on head and in full armour, holding the legendary sword Excalibur, it’s a classic pose. The background is a super mix of castle fortifications and stone bridge all set over water. Only the coin title is inscribed on this face, keeping everything distraction-free.

The obverse is particularly clever. The Queens effigy that is required for Cook Islands issues, sits in the middle of the iconic Round Table as seen from above. Surrounding the table and set around the rim, are twelve knights, helmets in hand, and holding the swords inwards in the classic pose. Details are again, quite superb. There’s a good level of relief and each of the knights appears to be slightly different. A great example of the level of care and attention that Choice have invested in their coins.

The coin will come in a high quality box (images to follow) and the mintage will be limited to just 999 pieces. Things have been simplified on the availability front with the coin available from just five dealers worldwide; Perth Bullion will exclusively distribute the coin in Australasia, PowerCoin and Muenzdachs in Europe, Coin Shoppe in Canada, and BullionStop in the US. These ship pretty much anywhere around the world so picking one up should be possible for all as long as stocks last.

The next coin to be released will be Lady Guinevere which is expected some time in the first quarter of 2017. Also of great interest will be the news that the third of the excellent Legends of Asgard coins will also ship in a similar, maybe slightly later  timeframe, and will feature Ymir, the Frost Giant from Norse mythology.

With two series and just three coins to their credit, it’s remarkable that this mint has a catalogue of such a universally high standard and has managed to carve itself out an enviable reputation in the marketplace. With the standard of competition so high, the meticulous and uncompromising approach to product release has served them, and the collector, very well indeed. Keep an eye on Choice’s new Youtube channel for upcoming information and great looks at the existing coins.

CLOSE UP LOOKS AT THE HIGH RELIEF DETAILING

THE LEGEND OF KING ARTHUR

Sorry to disappoint, but Arthur almost certainly wasn’t a real figure, king or otherwise. Contemporary accounts have no mention of him, and lots of the legend we know today were added in the Middle Ages, or even later today. What little we had to go on was gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur’s name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin. None are considered reliable on this.

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.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is now firmly entrenched in modern culture, both classic and popular. The new movie due next year is just one of many to have appeared previously, and there have been countless television series and books either based on, or inspired by the legend. Forever associated with Britain, Arthur and Excalibur have become symbols of this islands history, setting an idealised standard impossible to attain.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$10 COOK ISLANDS 0.999 SILVER 62.2 g 50.0 mm PROOF / MATTE / POLISHED 999 YES / YES

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