In our first foray into Niue Island’s “Battles That Changed History” series, we examined a coin that commemorated the pivotal victory of joint American and French forces against the British army at Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of 1781. For ...

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Second coin in “Battles That Changed History” series depicts the one that broke Bonaparte and more...

Second coin in “Battles That Changed History” series depicts the one that broke Bonaparte

In our first foray into Niue Island’s “Battles That Changed History” series, we examined a coin that commemorated the pivotal victory of joint American and French forces against the British army at Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of 1781. For the next major rout to be depicted in the series, Niue Island, collaborating with the New Zealand Mint, has selected the Battle of Waterloo.

The Battle of Waterloo represented the final act of defiance of a renewed Napoleon Bonaparte, who had just returned to power three months prior to the June 1815 engagement. Bonaparte was regarded by many, including his enemies, as a military genius whose guile and tenacity were not to be underestimated in the field of battle. This is why his unexpected defeat and subsequent abdication of power four days later, at the hands of the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo, is an excellent addition to Niue Island’s “Battles That Changed History” series.

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On the reverse, the 1-ounce, .999 fine silver coin features a fully colored image of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, amidst an antiqued background of his troops engaged in battle at Waterloo. Wellington was the victorious British commander who was later credited as the one primarily responsible for Napoleon’s Waterloo defeat. Despite Napoleon’s forces ultimately being routed in the end, Wellington himself stated that the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life,” citing the incredible fight that Bonaparte’s forces put up despite being outnumbered by the coalition of British and Prussian forces. The coin boasts an antique finish with the legend above the field reading WATERLOO • 1815. The bottom of the reverse displays the weight, metal, and fineness as 1 oz 999 FINE SILVER.

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The obverse of the coin is identical to that of the previous coin in the series, with the effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II portrayed by Ian Rank-Broadley. Reading clockwise around the coin is the legend ELIZABETH II NIUE TWO DOLLARS, with 2017 centered below the effigy.

Denom.MetalWeightDiam.QualityMintage Limit
$2.999 silver1 oz.40 mmAntiqued, with applied color5,000

Every coin is presented in an antique-style timber box. The outer portion of the box depicts the Battle of Waterloo in a black engraving. When the box is opened, you will see the brilliant coin resting on black velvet along with a certificate of authenticity. The coin can be examined and purchased online at the New Zealand Mint’s website.

The Battle of Waterloo

In March 1815, the nations assembled at the Congress of Vienna declared that Napoleon Bonaparte was an outlaw for his violation of the Treaty of Fontainebleau. Bonaparte was in breach of the treaty for returning to France with an armed force from his exile on the island of Elba. As a result, a joint force of British and Prussian forces (known as the Seventh Coalition) led by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Prince of Wahlstatt, challenged Bonaparte’s forces by mounting an invasion of France from the northeastern border in present-day Belgium. Bonaparte’s strategy was to divide and conquer the forces of the Seventh Coalition by attacking them separately. Little did he know that it was this strategy that would ultimately lead to his defeat.

While Napoleon’s attack on the Prussian army was largely successful at the Battle of Ligny, he had also divided a portion of his force to attack the British forces at the Battle of Quatre Blas, which was not so successful. Despite holding back Bonaparte’s forces, the Duke of Wellington was forced to withdraw to Waterloo to cover the retreating Prussian forces. This, in turn, had effectively reversed Bonaparte’s divide and conquer strategy to harm the French forces instead, who were utterly routed after a long battle against the main British force and the Prussian rear guard. The defeat at Waterloo marked the end of Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as Emperor of France, as he abdicated his seat of power just four days after the battle and faded into obscurity. As a result, The Battle of Waterloo will forever be remembered as the battle that broke Bonaparte.   ❑


France: New “Masterpieces” coin series pays tribute to the masterworks of French museums

The Monnaie de Paris have unveiled a new coin series which will focus primarily on some of the most memorable art treasures and masterpieces housed in many of France’s landmark museums and historical monuments. The three-year “Masterpieces of the Museums” series commemorates major artistic eras such as the Renaissance, the Baroque period, and Impressionism, and aims to honour two major masterpieces each year. In 2017, the series commences with a sculpture and a painting: The Venus de Milo (Vénus de Milo in French; from the Louvre Museum) and the Déjeuner sur l’herbe (from the Orsay Museum). Each design is minted in both gold and silver.

The Venus de Milo

Gold €200 obverse.

The obverse design depicts the famous Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, which was discovered in 1820 in Mélos. The statue is surrounded by marble arches, giving the impression that it is framed. The interplay of materials, surface, and textures is perfectly transcribed with the engraving. The fabric’s movement is intricately detailed, and the clear body lines are also evident. On the wall at the right-hand side of the primary design is the encircled logo CHEFS D’ŒUVRE DES MUSÉES, which identifies this new series. On the wall to the left, written vertically, is the French name of the piece of art: LA VÉNUS DE MILO. The coin is available in €10, €50, and €200 options.

Dejeuner sur l’herbe

Silver €10 obverse.

The obverse presents Édouard Manet’s famous Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass). This painting was realised in 1863 and is on display in the Orsay Museum in Paris. On the coins, the scene of this countryside lunch comes to life, overflowing outside the frame. At the bottom of the obverse is the encircled logo CHEFS D’ŒUVRE DES MUSÉES, identifying the new series. Placed above the primary design on the picture frame are the title of the painting and the name of artist: LE DÉJEUNER SUR L’HERBE Edouard MANET. The date of issue, 2017, appears below the arm on which the right-most figure in the painting is leaning. The coin is available in €10 and €50 options.

Common reverse design for the series (silver €10 Manet reverse shown).

The reverse, which is common to the entire series and across all three denominations, depicts several views of many major French museums. An interior view of the Musée d’Orsay, on the top left, is recognisable by its distinctive clock. Beside that is a view of the façade of the Louvre as seen from the Napoleon Courtyard where I.M. Pei’s famous glass pyramid (represented on the coin by a triangular shape to the right). Below these two elements, a fresco shows the Hôtel Salé, which houses the Musée Picasso-Paris. The lower portion of the reverse features a view of the façade of Hôtel Biron, the current Musée Rodin, and above, the famous Centre Pompidou stairway. The words RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE are inscribed to the left, below the hotel façade; the denomination, in two lines, is placed in the pyramid to the right.

The Hôtel Salé, which houses the Musée Picasso-Paris. (Hover to zoom. Photo by Yann Caradec)

The Musée Rodin, formerly the Hôtel Biron. (Hover to zoom. Photo by Dalbera)

The stairs at the Centre Pompidou. (Creative Commons image)


Denom.MetalWeightDiameterQualityMaximum Mintage
€10.900 silver22.2 g37 mmProof5,000
€50.999 gold7.78 g22 mmProof500
€200.999 gold31.107 g37 mmProof250

The first of the coins in this series will be available from 12th September and will also be offered as separate purchases. All coins are individually encased in an acrylic capsule for protection and housed in a custom blue Monnaie de Paris–branded presentation box with a certificate of authenticity. Please visit the website of the Monnaie de Paris for additional information on these and other coins on offer.

The Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo, which is housed in the Louvre. (Hover to zoom. Wikimedia photo by Livioandronico2013)

Discovered in 1820 in Mélos, a Cyclades island in Greece, the Aphrodite of Milos (better known as the Venus de Milo) is one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. The statue, which was sculpted in marble in the first century BC, was first offered to King Louis XVIII of France, who gave it to the Louvre Museum the following year. The sculpture is composed principally of two marble blocks that were separately created and then connected with vertical seals. The left arm and foot were attached to the main sculpture with tenons. Also uncovered along with the original statue were a hand holding an apple; an inscribed plinth (base); the chignon or knot from the back of the head; and part of an upper arm. The rougher workmanship of the hand led her finders to believe it was from a different sculpture, so they discarded it. Later historians have pointed out that parts of sculptures that would be high above the viewer were often fashioned more crudely, much as a person painting a wall might opt to skip the part behind a heavy bookcase. The story of this statue is full of mystery. Could it be that she is a representation of Aphrodite, often depicted as half-naked? or Amphitrite, a sea goddess venerated in Milo?

Dejeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1832–1883)

Déjeuner sur l’herbe (or Luncheon on the Grass, by Édouard Manet), displayed in the Orsay Museum. (Hover to zoom. Google Art Project photo)

Édouard Manet, a French painter from the end of the 19th century and a precursor to the modern painting genre, is remembered for questioning the academic conventions of his time. He wanted to represent “modern life,” and in 1862, Manet presented an immense canvas entitled Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass). This work depicted characters in a countryside setting: a nude female and a scantily-dressed female bather having a picnic with two fully dressed men. The piece was criticised by Manet’s contemporaries, as both the style and the subject were regarded as shocking. In this work in particular, Manet did not accept the conventions of the day and imposed a new artistic liberty of his own. Émile Zola, prominent writer and critic, was the only one to defend the work, which is today considered one of the greatest paintings of Manet.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum, with the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei. (Hover to zoom. Wikimedia photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)

The Louvre is a museum of art and antiquities located in Paris. The building itself was once a royal palace that was one of the principal residences of the earlier kings of France. It became a museum in 1793 after the French Revolution and overthrow of the monarchy in 1789. The museum consists of 73,000 square metres of displays presented on Occidental or Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, along with the heritage of the civilisations that have influenced it. Over 35,000 pieces of art are currently on full display; among these is the Venus de Milo.

The Orsay Museum

Musée d’Orsay, northwest view. (Hover to zoom. Wikimedia photo by Daniel Vorndran)

The Orsay Museum (Musée d’Orsay) is situated in Paris, upstream on the Left Bank sector of the Seine. It is housed in what was the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway built by Victor Laloux from 1898 to 1900, and was inaugurated as the new museum on the 9th December 1986. The transformation was reconstructed and centred around the nave, which became the main axis of the museum, and around the monumental clock. The collections include Western art history from 1848 to 1914 in all its diversity of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, graphical arts, photography, and architecture.


Niue Island takes you to their leader with new UFO-themed coin

Alien image by Beckie used under CCBY2.0. Image was cropped and rotated. All other images courtesy of Art Mint.

While the infamous descriptor of “flying saucer” was not coined until the 1930s, we now have a coin decades later that literally imitates the alien vehicle on a miniature scale. To commemorate the 70-year anniversary of the Roswell Incident, which took place in the summer of 1947, the quaint island nation of Niue has commissioned a coin worthy of the occasion. A dated article from The Sacramento Bee can still be observed with the blaring headline: “Army Reveals It Has Flying Disc In New Mexico.” However, the official story was that the object was a United States Army Air Forces balloon that crash landed. It was later revealed in the 1990s from formerly classified documents to be a nuclear test surveillance balloon that was a part of Project Mogul. Nevertheless, unidentified flying object (UFO) enthusiasts have repeatedly claimed that the official narrative regarding the 1947 Roswell Incident is an elaborate cover-up designed to obfuscate the truth about extraterrestrial life. Regardless of whichever side you may stand on in this debate, the 70th Anniversary Roswell Incident silver coin—produced by Art Mint in Paris, France—has to be seen to be believed.

(Hover to zoom.)

The 92.5 percent silver $2 coin, which is struck in ultra-high relief and contains 1.3 troy ounces of silver, boasts many unusual features.

The concave obverse of the coin depicts her majesty Queen Elizabeth II. While this may seem a strange pairing with our supposed interstellar visitors’ vehicle of choice, the reason for her inclusion is rather simple. Niue Island’s citizens are also citizens of New Zealand, and the two countries freely associate with one another. Furthermore, it is Queen Elizabeth II who is recognized as the formal head of state for New Zealand, and thus it is sensible for her to be depicted on coinage minted on the Island of Niue as well. Though to the unwary collector, it can understandably be seen as an unusual combination of a well-respected monarch and an extraterrestrial spacecraft. However, in standard coin collection practices, unusual is quite often a marker of desirability.

The convex reverse of the coin has a small, raised dome in the center. A fictional alien language encircles the dome.

Denom. Metal Weight Diameter Quality Maximum Mintage
 $2 .925 silver 40g 50 mm Proof with applied phosphorescence 700

Whether you are a history buff, a UFO enthusiast, or an enthusiastic collector of unusual coins – the 70th Anniversary Roswell Incident silver $2 coin is certain to please. At the very least, it is extremely entertaining to behold the effigy of Her Majesty on a flying saucer. The coin can be observed and preordered online from World Mint News Blog sponsor First Coin Company, which offers free international shipping. Deliveries are scheduled for late August to early September.


Special 2018 Somali Elephant designs available at the World’s Fair of Money

The following is a re-post from World Mint News Blog’s sister site, Coin Update.

Collectors love limited-mintage special editions of familiar coins—and mints are happy to provide them. Last February, at Berlin’s World Money Fair, 1,000 silver Somali Elephant coins with a special privy mark (which included the Berlin world clock) were sold to avid collectors. The 2017-dated coins bore the left-facing elephant with raised trunk that featured on all 2017 Somali Elephants.

The ANA World’s Fair of Money privy mark (enlarged).

This week, at the World’s Fair of Money in Denver, Colorado, APMEX will be the dealer for another special silver Elephant. The coins, dated 2017, feature the 2018 design motif and a special privy mark: a tiny, frosted Denver skyline, backed by the Rocky Mountains, enclosed in an oval with ANA 2017 incused below the cityscape. The privy mark is just above the head of the elephant. The total mintage (some of which is being sold in Germany; see below) is limited to 1,000.

The 2018 reverse depicts the head and shoulders of a single elephant in the lower third of the field, with its trunk partly raised and the tips of its tusks and trunk extending into the border area. In the background to the right are several dry branches, with two birds in flight above them. The wide, plain border, with raised inner and outer rims, holds the words • AFRICAN WILDLIFE • above and, reading counterclockwise from lower left, ELEPHANT • 1 oz Ag 999.9 (all in relief).

The obverse of the 1-ounce coin features two rampant leopards supporting the arms of Somalia above an emblem consisting of two crossed palm fronds and two crossed spears draped with a plain ribbon. The words SOMALI REPUBLIC appear above, and the denomination, 100 SHILLINGS, below. The date (in this case 2017) is divided by the central device, and the entire design is encircled by a beaded border.

The silver Elephants of Somalia (formerly Zambia) are minted at Das Bayerisches Hauptmünzamt Mint (or Bavarian State Mint) in Munich, Germany.

APMEX can be found at the World’s Fair of Money in booth 252. In Europe, German dealer Kettner Edelmetalle also carried a portion of the limited mintage, but the coins are sold out on the website.   ❑


Lithuania: Popular “Lithuanian Nature” series continues with Lithuanian hound and Žemaitukas horse

The Bank of Lithuania have issued (21st July) two new coins which highlight two of the more distinctive breeds of animal which are unique to the small Baltic state: the Lithuanian hound and the Žemaitukas, a particular breed of horse.

If a dog or a horse is considered to be a man’s best friend, the Lithuanian hound and Žemaitukas could be called companions of the Lithuanian people. The two breeds, which evolved under local environmental conditions from the strongest and most hardy stock, are among the oldest not only in Lithuania, but also in the world. Nowadays Lithuania counts around 500 pure-bred Žemaitukai registered in the herd book, and 200 purebred Lithuanian hounds.

One of the key tasks of the Lietuvos žirgynas—the oldest and largest stud farm in Lithuania—is to maintain and preserve the endangered Žemaitukas breed. Included in the Global Databank for Farm Animal Genetic Resources and the World Watch List for Domestic Animal Diversity, the Lietuvos žirgynas has been known since about the 6th to the 8th century. To preserve the Lithuanian hounds, it developed a special programme, yet it has been the hunters raising these dogs who are most invested in the breed’s purity and continuation.

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The coins, which are struck in both silver and cupro-nickel versions, are designed by Rūta Ničajienė and Giedrius Paulauskis and produced by the Mint of Lithuania on behalf of the Bank of Lithuania. The reverse of the coin features two Lithuanian hounds standing in front of a Žemaitukas horse on stony ground. All are facing to the left, looking at something in the distance. Horse, hounds, and stones are textured with a pattern of fine diagonal lines, as in an etching. (The texture is more evident on the silver Proof coins; an overall pebbly texture of the Brilliant Uncirculated coins mutes the effect.) The encircling legend reads ŽEMAITUKAS clockwise at upper right, and LIETUVIU SKALIKAS counterclockwise at lower left.

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The obverse features a stylised version of the national insignia, the Vytiswhich, which is usually depicted on the country’s coat of arms. As on the reverse, the emblem is textured with fine diagonal lines, as if etched. Above the emblem is the word LIETUVA. To the left is the date of issue, 2017, while the denomination, expressed as 10 or 1,50, is below.

Denom.MetalWeightDiameterQualityMaximum Mintage
€1.50Cupro-nickel11.1 g27.5 mmBrilliant Unc.25,000
€10.925 silver23.3 g34 mmProof2,000

The €1.50 coin commemorating the Lithuanian hound and Žemaitukas horse is the second coin of this specific denomination issued by the Bank of Lithuania. With the issue of this smaller-face-value coin, the Bank of Lithuania seeks to expand the range of euro coins issued, highlight the more popular themes, and encourage younger people to take an interest in collecting coins. For more information on this and other coins issued by the Bank of Lithuania, please visit the website of the Mint of Lithuania.

Background of the Lithuanian Hound

After thriving for many centuries, the Lithuanian hound was on the brink of extinction in the early 20th century. Such a situation formed as a result of political shifts, restrictions on hunting, and decreases in populations of wild animals (potential hunting prey). Only in 1957–1958 did cynologist Zigmas Goštautas collect the remaining Lithuanian hounds in Samogitia and began to restore the vanishing breed.

In 1966, the breed standard was adopted; it was later amended more than once. The hound stands around 53 to 61 centimetres (21–24 inches) at the withers and measures about 52–60 centimetres (20–24 inches) in length, with a chest girth around 70 centimetres (28 inches). It weighs about (60–75 pounds). Its head is large and its forehead broad. The hound is found only in black with a brown snout, chest, underbelly, inner legs, and eyebrow ridge. Its coat is dense, with shiny ears that are triangular in shape with rounded ends. The tail is sword-shaped, carried below the line of the back. Every year several Lithuanian hound conformation shows are held in the country; here, the dogs are evaluated to select the best ones to maintain the appropriate varietal characteristics. In 1986, there were roughly 500 Lithuanian hounds, but their number fluctuates around 200 today.

The Lithuanian hound is a non-aggressive dog, friendly with strangers and perfect for families with children. Therefore, quite a few of them are kept for reasons other than their traditional purpose—assistance in hunting. The only Lithuanian breed of hunting dog, the Lithuanian hound has preserved its old attributes and characteristics. They remain highly resistant to disease. They are a truly valuable example of cultural and material heritage, and we should all be invested in keeping the breed alive.

English-language videos of these two Lithuanian breeds are difficult to come by, but the following—whose title translates to “First Lessons of Lithuanian Hound Puppies”—needs no voiceover or subtitles.


(YouTube video by Austieja /Auksa Žovis / Gončius)

Bankground of the Žemaitukas Horse

The Žemaitukas (pl. Žemaitukai) is the only ancient Lithuanian horse breed to have been preserved to the present day. This is attributable to the horse’s multiple abilities: it was a steed for Lithuanian warriors, or harnessed to a plough, a cart, or even an elegant carriage. Lithuanian warriors and farmers were not the only ones keen on these features—the Žemaitukas caught the attention of breeders from other European countries as well. Being one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, and having highly valuable genetic characteristics, the horse was used in East Prussia, in the town of Trakehnen (now Yasnaya Polyana, Russia), to derive the internationally celebrated Trakehner saddle-horse breed.

The Žemaitukas is a vigorous, undemanding, and tough horse with a strong physique. Nowadays, horse breeders classify it as a saddle pony, and they successfully compete in various sporting events. Even though Žemaitukai have been widespread across Lithuania for a very long time, it was not until 500 years ago, when they were finally recognised and accurate descriptions of their unique characteristics documented, that written records of their breed finally existed. Because of their unique characteristics, Žemaitukai have been used in Lithuania and beyond. Although it is a small horse, its stamina and excellent physique have amazed many. Famed Lithuanian animal breeder Romanas Žebenka described the žemaitukas as

a small, sturdy-built horse with very strong legs. It has a good trot, a well-formed front part. Its head is small, profile straight and forehead broad. Small, constantly moving ears and large, lively eyes give it an expression or an air of intelligence. The neck is relatively short, finely arched, strong—this is especially true for stallions.

A Žemaitukas horse at show. (Photo by Tomas Čekanavičius)

At their withers, Žemaitukas stallions stand at around 1.35 metres (4.43 feet) tall, or a little over 13 hands. (Mares are slightly smaller.) They weigh 360–420 kilograms (about 790 to 925 pounds). The chest girth measures about 173–175 centimetres (68–69 inches), and the torso length, about 142–143 (56–57 inches). Many people take note of the Žemaitukas’s rather massive body in relation to its thin, yet, strong legs. Its neck is of average length; its chest, wide and deep; its back, straight and broad; and its loins, nicely rounded. The hooves are small, almost round. In its gait, the Žemaitukas is easy, its movements elegant and graceful, with a broad trot and good jump. It is an ideal riding horse, and, according to various authors, it can easily cover up to 100 kilometres a day. The Žemaitukas can be chestnut coloured or black, but most often they are light or dark bay (more rarely, dark grey). They are relatively disease resistant and long lived (up to 30 years), and have a cheerful disposition.   ❑


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