For more than two and a half years and throughout more than 600 posts, Mint News Blog has exclusively covered coins and collectible products from the United States Mint. During this time, the US Mint has cut its product line by more than 60%, canceled some of its most popular products, and arguably experienced a decline in the quality of coin designs.
When I first started writing this blog, I collected exclusively U.S. coins. As time has moved on, I have started to allocate a small portion of my collecting budget to coins from other world mints. This is perhaps due in part to some of the factors mentioned above and also a result of greater exposure to world coins that I have gained through writing and editing Coin Update.
While the focus of Mint News Blog will remain the US Mint and its coins and products, as a one time change of pace, this post will explore some of my favorite products from other world mints. Readers: please feel free to share your own favorite non-US Mint coins in the comments of this post.
Most of the following coins instantly resonated with me for one reason or another, and I knew I wanted to add them to my collection. It is refreshing to find coins that have a design, execution, unique theme, or “coolness” factor that make them instantly likable to a degree that you know for certain that you will enjoy them.
Netherlands – 2006 Netherlands and Architecture 5 Euro
This 92.5% silver 5 euro commemorative coin was issued in 2008. The design for “The Netherlands and Architecture” coin was created as the result of a competition organized by the Dutch Ministry of Finance between various architecture offices and artists.
The winning design features the image of the queen constructed using the names of 109 famous Dutch architects. The names towards the edge of the coin are large enough to be readable. The size of the names decreases towards the center, with the smaller names readable with magnification. The order of the 109 architects is based on the number of hits each name registered on the internet.
The reverse of the coin features books on architecture. They are arranged in such as way as to create an outline of the Netherlands at the center. A bird flies above the location of the capital of each province.
Netherlands – 2009 400 Years of the Netherlands and Manhattan 5 Euro
The following year, the Netherlands issued another 92.5% silver 5 euro commemorative to mark the 400 years of ties between the Netherlands and Manhattan. Henry Hudson and his crew of the Dutch East India Company set foot on Manhattan in 1609 and later established the colony of New Netherlands on the southern tip.
The coin design represents 400 years of Manhattan by showing a precise topographical view of Manhattan in 2009 created with images from Google Earth. The reverse of the coin shows the landscape as it was in 1609, reproduced based on scientific research by the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.
Perth Mint of Australia – Silver Kookaburra
The Silver Kookaburra has been produced by the Perth Mint since 1990. Each year has featured a unique depiction of the Kookaburra. This native Australian bird has a distinctive call that sounds like human laughter.
The coins are available in a range of sizes from one ounce to one kilo. The one ounce coins cost about $5 more than the one ounce American Eagle Silver bullion coins. I am happy to pay this premium for an exceptionally well produced coin with a unique design. The Perth Mint has also offered the Silver Koala since 2007, which features a unique Koala design each year.
Royal Canadian Mint – .99999 Gold Maple Leaf
Something that caught my eye recently is the Gold Maple Leaf .99999 Special Edition. If you count the 9’s, you will note that there are five of them. This makes the coin .00009 purer than 24 karat gold coins from other world mints. The background of the coin features a wavy netting that gives the coin a special look. The face value of this coin is $200, rather than the $50 face value used for the regular .9999 fine Gold Maple Leaf. These coins are priced about $50 higher than other one ounce gold bullion coins.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Royal Canadian Mint offers the Platinum Maple Leaf and Palladium Maple Leaf coins. The US Mint has not produced platinum bullion coins since 2008 and has never produced palladium coins.
Kazakhstan – 2006 Space Silver and Tantalum 500 Tenge
While U.S. collectors may never see the twice proposed series of NASA commemorative coins, other world mints have issued various space themed coins. I particularly liked this 500 tenge coin issued by Kazakhstan. It is a bimetallic proof coin with an outer ring of silver and inner disc of tantalum, a blue gray metal used in the aerospace industry.
The obverse features a representation of the unity of man and the universe. This design was used for the obverse of each coin in the space series. The reverse design of this coin shows an astronaut and a representation of our solar system. I think this design is the best of the space series. Other issues of the series depict satellites or spacecraft.
Austria – 2010 Renewable Energy Silver and Niobium 25 Euro
The obverse of the coin depicts the cycle of nature for a tree. This is juxtaposed with a reverse design which depicts the various methods of harnessing renewable sources of natural energy with a stylized globe in the background.
Bulgaria – Various Commemorative Coins
My wife was born in Bulgaria. While a teenager, she moved to the United States with her parents, and they all later became American citizens. Bulgarian coins have helped me to learn more about her culture and the history of Bulgaria. When my children are older, I think these coins will also help them learn about Bulgaria, just as their U.S. coins will help them learn about America.
Bulgaria has issued a wide array of commemorative coins over the years. Most of the older ones can be obtained relatively cheaply. Some were produced in silver, others in base metal, and a few in gold. I have purchased groups of some of the older issues and have been buying the newly issued silver coins as they are released.
The coins pictured above present some important people, places, and events in Bulgarian history. The April uprising in 1876 (top left) led to the Bulgarian independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 (bottom right). The Rila Monastery (top right) was built in the 10th century and is considered one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical, and architectural monuments. I was able to visit the Rila Monastery while on vacation. The Belogradchik Rocks (bottom left) were featured on the most recently released silver commemorative coin.
Coin Update News
Back to U.S. coins, the second part of the interview with United States Mint Director Edmund Moy has just been published. The second part includes a discussion of the canceled 2009 Proof Silver Eagles, U.S. coin design, the international coin market, and Director Moy’s coin collection. Also, if you have any questions for him, please leave them in the comments of the interview and we will see if we can get them answered.
Links to both parts of the interview are provided below: