Regular readers and commemorative coin collectors are fully aware that along with meteorites, the ancient world, from its buildings to its gods, are hugely popular at the moment. Many mints have launched some really fine designs, including the Choice Mint, Scottsdale, Perth Mint, and the Mint of Poland. It is to the last company that we turn for this latest, superb launch, Ancient Myths: The Trojan Horse.

The most popular format for this type of coin is remarkably consistent. High-relief, where the difference between the high and low points of a coin strike are greater than normal, is common and desired – an antique-finish equally so. Rimless designs are a fine touch, and a large number of the coins in this genre carry an adornment or insert of some kind. With all these high-end techniques being commonplace with ancient humanity themed coins, the mint has to distinguish its new releases with that most important of factors, the coins artwork, and it is here that this new Trojan coin lifts itself above the norm.

The reverse face of this new coin carries a depiction of the hugely famous Trojan Horse, located just inside the walls of Troy, and with the soldiers hidden within diembarking so that they could open the gates and allow the Greek army to rush in and sack the city. In the middle of the face is a small disc of highly polished wood carrying an ancient-inspired pattern in black, meant to represent the horses construction. In our early featured image above, and in the two ArtCAM renders below, there is a frame surrounding the wood (in this case our logo, but you get the picture), but that has now been removed for an even cleaner look, an example of the ongoing ‘tweaking’ process than gradually refines such designs until it’s considered ready for fabrication. The obverse, often overlooked in comparison, is also hugely detailed, featuring three Greek triremes powering through the water under full sail, warriors stationed on the bow, stormy sea below. Both faces are quite excellent in our view, especially the obverse, with unobtrusive inscriptions. The Queens effigy, necessary unfortunately, is isolated from the design and about as small as is allowed by the relevant authorities, so all-in-all, a top class effort. The edge of the coin will carry a serial number that will also be printed on the enclosed Certificate of Authenticity.

The coin will be appearing at dealers from 29 April when the price will be revealed. Limited to just 500 pieces, well presented in a wooden box, and with a subject that has captured mans imagination for three thousand years, this one looks a real gem and will be going in  my collection without doubt, Along with Legends of Asgard, Norse Gods, Imperial Art, and Egyptian Symbols, amongst others, Ancient Myths: Trojan Horse debuts in the top echelons of the genre, and bodes well for future coins in the series.

There has been an increasing use of CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture) in the coin design world in recent years, the Mint of Poland being a user of it for many of its more complex coins. The software of choice appears to be ArtCAM, software designed for the more artistic environment instead of the traditional engineering focus of most CAD packages. Available in specific versions for coin manufacturing, it is used not just by the Mennica Polska, but also by the Royal Canadian Mint and the Monnaie de Paris, amongst others.

The beauty of this approach is the ease with which changes can be made. For example, in the early renders below, there is a frame around the wood insert. In the latest version, as you can see above, that has now gone. A change like that to a plaster sculpt would have been a pain, with CAD it’s relatively simple, and can be reverted back in short order also.

There are some facinating videos of its use for those interested. Here, here and here.

PACKAGING

EARLY SUPERCEDED ARTCAM RENDERS

 MINTS DESCRIPTION AND CERTIFICATE

““Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes”
Did the Trojan horse really exist? the Greeks were told by the oracle that after nine years of battling for the beautiful Helen of Troy, they would enter the city as winners. However, to achieve their goal, they needed something more than brutal violence and ruthless bloodshed. Although it seems impossible, the legend states that the ruse succeeded and the Trojans pulled the wooden horse into their besieged city. This could be explained by the fact that the steed was a symbol of Troy, and its inhabitants enjoyed the reputation of great horse breeders.

From the poem of Homer we know that when the Trojans fell asleep, Odysseys and his soldiers quietly creeped
out from the wooden construction. The city was engulfed in flames: a slaughter began. Troy was plundered, its people were killed or enslaved. The epic story about the fall of the legendary fortress is deeply ingrained in the European culture. And no matter whether the Trojan horse ever existed – today it remains a universal symbol of deceit, brilliance and wit.

SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$10 NEW ZEALAND 0.999 SILVER 62.2 g 50.0 mm ANTIQUE 500 YES / YES

TROY AND GREECE AT WAR

THE TROJAN WAR

The Trojan War, fought between Greeks and the defenders of the city of Troy in Anatolia sometime in the late Bronze Age, has grabbed the imagination for millennia. A conflict between Mycenaeans and Hittites may well have occurred, but its representation in epic literature such as Homer’s Iliad is almost certainly more myth than reality.

The Trojan War, in Greek tradition, started as a way for Zeus to reduce the ever-increasing population of humanity and, more practically, as an expedition to reclaim Helen, wife of Menelaos, King of Sparta and brother of Agamemnon. Helen was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris (also known as Alexandros) and taken as his prize for choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess in a competition with Athena and Hera at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Menelaos and the Greeks wanted her back and to avenge Trojan impudence.

Most of the Trojan War was in a fact a protracted siege, and the city was able to resist the invaders for so long principally because its fortifications were so magnificent. Indeed, in Greek mythology, the walls of Troy were said to have been built by Poseidon and Apollo who, after an act of impiety, were compelled by Zeus to serve the Trojan King Laomedon for one year. There were, though, battles outside the city where armies fought, sometimes with chariots, but mostly by men on foot using spears and swords and protected by a shield, helmet, and armour for the chest and legs. War waged back and forth across the plains of Troy over the years, but the final and decisive action was the Trojan Horse. (Source: Ancient History)

LEGEND OF THE TROJAN HORSE

The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and win the war. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.

According to Quintus Smyrnaeus, Odysseus thought of building a great wooden horse (the horse being the emblem of Troy), hiding an elite force inside, and fooling the Trojans into wheeling the horse into the city as a trophy. Under the leadership of Epeios, the Greeks built the wooden horse in three days. Odysseus’ plan called for one man to remain outside the horse; he would act as though the Greeks had abandoned him, leaving the horse as a gift for the Trojans. An inscription was engraved on the horse reading: “For their return home, the Greeks dedicate this offering to Athena”. Then they burned their tents and left to Tenedos by night. Greek soldier Sinon was “abandoned”, and was to signal to the Greeks by lighting a beacon.

In Virgil’s poem, Sinon, the only volunteer for the role, successfully convinces the Trojans that he has been left behind and that the Greeks are gone. Sinon tells the Trojans that the Horse is an offering to the goddess Athena, meant to atone for the previous desecration of her temple at Troy by the Greeks, and ensure a safe journey home for the Greek fleet. Sinon tells the Trojans that the Horse was built to be too large for them to take it into their city and gain the favor of Athena for themselves.

VIRGIL’S Aeneid, BOOK II

After many years have slipped by, the leaders of the Greeks,
opposed by the Fates, and damaged by the war,
build a horse of mountainous size, through Pallas’s divine art,
and weave planks of fir over its ribs:
they pretend it’s a votive offering: this rumour spreads.
They secretly hide a picked body of men, chosen by lot,
there, in the dark body, filling the belly and the huge
cavernous insides with armed warriors. […] Then Laocoön rushes down eagerly from the heights
of the citadel, to confront them all, a large crowd with him,
and shouts from far off: “O unhappy citizens, what madness?
Do you think the enemy’s sailed away? Or do you think
any Greek gift’s free of treachery? Is that Ulysses’s reputation?
Either there are Greeks in hiding, concealed by the wood,
or it’s been built as a machine to use against our walls,
or spy on our homes, or fall on the city from above,
or it hides some other trick: Trojans, don’t trust this horse.
Whatever it is, I’m afraid of Greeks even those bearing gifts.”

The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans.

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