By Louis Golino
Missing Works of Art- New Niue Series
Amid the dizzying array of recent new world coin issues is an intriguing a new series from the Mint of Poland created for the island nation of Niue, which issues a lot of coins. The series is called “Missing Works of Art” and deals with famous paintings and other art works that went missing during World War II, most of which were stolen by the Nazis, and which have never since resurfaced. The concept reminds me of the recent George Clooney film, Monuments Men, about the efforts of a small group of art experts commissioned by FDR to retrieve the major works of art plundered by the Nazis during the war.
The coins are square-shaped, made of one ounce of .999 silver, 40 by 40 millimeters in diameter, and have a mintage of 1500. The first issue in this series honors the extremely famous Raphael Renaissance painting, Portrait of a Young Man, from 1513-1514, which most experts believe is of the artist himself in his youth. This painting is widely regarded as the most important one stolen by the Nazis.
The coin’s reverse shows the museum in Cracow, Poland where the work was last seen, and the painting in color using digital printing. The obverse cleverly depicts an ornate empty frame and includes Swarovski elements. The second coin in the series honors the Gothic sculpture from the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries known as the Madonna of Turin that shows the Madonna with baby Jesus, another historic work stolen by the Nazis.
The series was only announced very recently by the Polish Mint. I have seen it for sale on e-Bay from European sellers. American buyers may want to consider obtaining it from the Mint’s U.S. distributor, First Coin Company . It is clearly aimed at art lovers, and numismatists who are fans of great works of art. There seems to be a significant interest in art among collectors of world coins since many of the most popular coin series have artistic themes.
These are coins designed to be enjoyed for their sheer beauty. They should not be purchased as investments, but there are some cases when such coins have done very well, such as the Niue 5 oz Year of the Horse coin that I wrote about last year, which went from a $500 issue price to a current value of approximately three times that amount or more, depending on where purchased.
Prince George First Birthday Crown
The Royal Mint in the UK has announced a 5 pound silver proof crown to honor the upcoming first birth of Prince George of Cambridge. The coin will have a mintage of 7,500 pieces and features a Heraldic design that shows four coats of arms, one for each of the four nations of the United Kingdom arranged to form a cross. It was designed by painter, Edgar Fuller. The coins are made of .925 silver, weigh 28 grams, and have a diameter of 38.6 millimeters.
Last year’s Royal Birth silver coin used the iconic British image of St. George slaying the dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci that appears on British gold sovereigns. That coin quickly sold out of its 10,000 mintage and rose considerably in price on the secondary market. The new coin should do well too.
New Tokelau Bullion Series and Year of the Goat coins
The island nation of Tokelau made a significant impact on the numismatic world with its beautiful Year of the Horse Lunar calendar silver coins, which were the first ones in the 2014 Lunar program. Starting with the reverse proof coin, they then issued the horse coin in a variety of other finishes, some with mintages as low as 1,000 coins, and each was a success.
Tokelau has decided to expand its presence in the bullion market with a new Kakhai yellowfin tuna coin that will be available in July. The coins are made of one ounce of .999 pure silver and have a mintage of one million coins. This is the first coin in a new series that will “celebrate the rich ocean life of this South Pacific Ocean territory of New Zealand.”
The one-ounce coin will be followed by a half-ounce version with a 250,000 mintage and then other coins with different designs.
Tokelau will also be the first to issue coins in the 2015 Lunar calendar series for the Year of the Goat and recently released the design that will appear on those coins. These coins will begin with a reverse proof goat that launches on July 1 with a 50,000 mintage and will be followed by proof, gilded, colored, antique finish, etc. versions later with very limited mintages.
Information about the Tokelau goat coins is available from Treasures of Oz , an Australian company that is the distributor of these coins.
Modern Coin Mart (www.moderncoinmart.com)'s staff told me they will have the reverse proof and proof goat coins available for sale by the end of next week.
Hayden from Modern Coin Mart explained how the Tokelau Lunar coins came about: "Treasures of Oz created and owns the series. They contract the production out to various private Mints who store the coins before shipment to distributors such as MCM. For the Lunar Horse Family series, Sunshine minted the Bullion MS coins, the Gilt MS coins, and the .5 Gram Gold Horse Proofs. The other coin in the series were struck in Germany by a very well known private mint, The Mayer Mint."
Perth Mint - Saltwater Crocodiles and Bullion Wedge Tailed Eagles
The Perth Mint recently issued a new one ounce silver bullion coin that depicts the saltwater crocodile and has a mintage of 1 million pieces, which sold out quickly at the wholesale level to Perth's distributors. Unlike its other bullion coins, Kookaburras, Koalas, and the Lunar series I and II, the new crocs are shipped without capsules and come in tubes and monster boxes. That probably explains why some buyers have reported receiving coins with some minor imperfections, which is unusual for Perth coins that are usually of very high quality. I just received one that has no noticeable imperfections.
As I mentioned would happen earlier in the year Perth Mint has also issued a one-ounce silver bullion version of the popular wedge-tailed eagle coin, which was offered in one-ounce proof and high relief proof as well as five-ounce high relief
proof versions earlier. This coin is the first in another new bullion series from Perth that will have the same design each year. The mintage of the first year of issue for 2014 is 50,000 coins, as explained by Makeila Ellis, Perth's media and events officer. That is an unusually low number for a bullion coin, and once this information is more widely known, I expect interest in the latest version of this popular design to grow substantially.
The coins are being distributed in the U.S. through GovMint (www.govmint.com), which started offering them for sale on June 25.
Copyright © CoinWeek – June 2014
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His insightful retrospective on the American Silver Eagle was the cover feature of the February 2014 issue of The Numismatist. His column for CoinWeek, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA,PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.