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World Mints Show Off Their Coins
By Thomas Michael
World Coin News

This year's Media Forum at the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany, offered data on a vast array of new issue coinage from around the world.

Hans-Henning Goehrum, president of the World Money Fair 2009, opened the program noting that there were 52 mints represented at the fair, although only 18 of them would have the cherished opportunity of speaking at the Media Forum. Time is, of course, the problem, as a program of 18 presentations took over three hours to complete. Time is a precious commodity at the World Money Fair, but even so, I noticed that the audience was even larger than last year, indicating a healthy growth for the show and this event in particular.

Royal Canadian Mint

This year's guest of honor - the Royal Canadian Mint - started the Media Forum with a speech from Ian Bennett outlining the planned celebrations for the RCM's centennial this year. Bennett noted that the demand for gold and silver bullion coins was a challenge for the RCM in 2008, as it was for other mints worldwide, but strong sales and good profitability for the mint indicated that the challenge was successfully met.

Some of the most exciting developments in 2008 and into 2009 for the RCM included advancements in robotic coin production, development of a new Web site and a bevy of new issues, including a $300 gold painted mask coin with a stellar design, a $200 gold mining coin, a painted 50 toa for Papua New Guinea, a Centennial of Flight coin series and a special mint set for the World Money Fair.

The RCM also is doing a great unity of Canada coin with a six-string guitar theme. It's a 50-cent coin in a triangular shape and the guitar strings signify the unity of the country. Check out their new mint Web site for more information on the design and construction of the original guitar on which this coin design was based.

If you are into hockey, you'll be as pleased as I was that the RCM will be releasing a proof silver dollar with some gold plating for the Centennial of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

Always near the center of the sport, this team has held a warm spot in the hearts of Canadians and hockey fans worldwide from their founding in 1909. Expect this coin to sell out fast and become a popular item in the aftermarket.

Of course, at the center of the RCM program for 2009 will be a slew of coins produced for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics. There will be a wide selection of collector coins in addition to a series of 50-cent color coins in base metal and with special packaging for gift giving. Also of note is the fact that the RCM will produce the athlete's medals for Vancouver.

South African Mint

Natanya van Niekerk, deputy general manager of the South African Mint Company Ltd, presented the mint's lineup for 2009, with flair and a good sense of humor. With all its natural resources, South Africa presents a wealth of material for coin design, allowing for a depth and variety that excites the imagination.

South Africa's Natura series, which originated in 1994, continues this year by honoring the white rhinoceros. Conservation efforts in South Africa have brought the white rhino back in significant numbers to a current population of about 10,000. Each gold coin in the series depicts an element of the white rhino's life. The 2009 kruggerand gold one once and fractionals celebrate the 110th anniversary of Kruger National Park this year.

But it is the Protea series issues for 2009 that will really cause a stir for collectors. You may have read about this National Anthem commemorative in last month's World Coin News, but in case you missed it, here are the details. This coin features a yin-yang layout with portraits of each artist responsible for the origins of the current unified South African national anthem. Down the middle on the curve are the notes of the first bars of the Anthem. The symbolism is great, the theme is emotional and the design is so eye-catching that most folks who see this coin will probably want to add it to their collection.

The Peace Park series was started two years ago with a goal of removing the fences that limit animal migration. Three silver issues will be done in 2009, with denominations of 10, 20 and 50 cents, all featuring images from the project areas. This series, along with the popular UNESCO World Heritage coins in 1 and 2 rand are great examples of organic thinking in coin design. The World Heritage coin series is the product of a design contest and this year's winner features the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape.

German Mints

Dr. Andreas Schikora, director of the Berlin Mint, presented the German Mint program for 2009, which offers the standard issues, plus a number of exciting items. One coin that caused a stir on the bourse floor later in the show was the Saarland 2 euro bimetallic commemorative, which offers a view of the bell tower.

Also scheduled for 2009 are coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the International Space Station, the 600th anniversary of Leipzig University - which will only be struck with the "A" mintmark at Berlin, a commemorative honoring the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Youth Hostels - which will only be struck at Hamburg bearing the "J" mintmark, and a gold 100 euro for UNESCO featuring the Roman Church at Trier.

Two other German issues set for 2009 should prove to be standouts. The first is a silver 10 euro featuring a javelin thrower in honor of the 9th IAAF World Championship of Athletics set to take place in Berlin. The design on this piece is great and sports coins of this sort are not easy to create in an authentic and aesthetic way. This one achieves the desired effect. The second standout is for the 400th Anniversary of Kepler's law. This type displays planetary orbits in Kepler's head, as if he is thinking about them. What a great concept, and the execution of the design is beautiful as well.

Monnaie de Paris

Christophe Beaux, director of the Monnaie de Paris, expressed a desire to limit the mint's production to a manageable number of issues, but the list of new releases for 2009 still seemed long. The Monnaie de Paris also set a goal of uplifting world spirits and connecting to a broader public through numismatics. This second pair of goals is both honorable and achievable with their design choices for this year.

In particular an issue for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is planned, along with a First Step on the Moon commemorative, which features a footprint in a blue moon surface. A lovely Ettore Bugatti race car coin, a technologically advanced Gustave Eiffel issue and a First Flight of the Concorde jet issue also illustrate the mint's attempt to unify world spirit through inspirational coin themes.

However, in a strictly practical sense the Monnaie de Paris had one of the best ideas of the Media Forum with their 100th anniversary of Madame Currie coin, for which proceeds will go to the Currie Institute. But for pure entertainment value you have got to love their comic series, which will offer a Lucky Luke 50 euro coin with the denomination worked into the design as a wanted poster.

Mint of Poland

As Jacek Jakobczak, trade and marketing deputy director of the Mint of Poland explained, its 2009 offerings will be expansive with 20 programs, nearly 100 coins and mintages running into the millions. The Mint of Poland is now doing a great deal of contract work for smaller countries, such as Nuie Island, Belarus, Andorra and Armenia. For these countries it is creating some stellar coins related to artists and fairy tales, but for Poland the mint is still designing coins within historical confines.

This year it plans to issue coins for the 400th anniversary of Polish settlement in America and 450 years of the Polish postal system.

On a separate note, the Mint of Poland announced that it is now a submission center for PCGS in Europe. This is a very new service for their customer base and may prove to be a big event for modern issue numismatics in 2009.

Portuguese State Mint

The Portuguese State Mint program for 2009, as presented by Antonio Verdasca, sales and marketing manager for the mint, is both modern in design and traditional in theme. A gold series for Portuguese history will feature the immortal explorer Vasco de Gama in a rather modern design. The UNESCO coins follow this same path with coins for the Monastery of Jeronimos and the popular Tower of Belem, each in 2.5 euro denominations struck in silver proof and copper-nickel pieces. Portugal will also focus on coin designs of the past in its Numismatic Treasures series and offer an attractive ribbon dancer theme on a 2 euro coins for the Il Lusophony Games.

The subjects of languages and literature will highlight Portugal's entries into the European Cultural series. These two coin designs will be issued in multiple metals to honor Luis de Camoes and Fernando Pessoa for their impact on literature and language. Pessoa was a seminal figure in the modernist movement in literature, with heavy emphasis on his ground-breaking poetry.

Nordic Mints

The Nordic Mints join together many coin issuing countries in Northern Europe, all with fine individual traditions. Maarit Aarni-Sirvioe, chief executive officer of the Nordic Mints, presented its programs for this year, which included a pair of 200th anniversary coins from Finland, one for the Diet of Porvoo and the other commemorating Finland's break from Sweden in 1809 when it became a grand duchy of Russia.

Sweden is issuing a circulating commemorative krona for the same 1809 break with Finland, so we in the coin community will be able to acquire both perspectives on a pair of coins making a complete set of the subject. A silver coin for the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Council of State is also scheduled for 2009, and the Lighthouse series from Finland will continue with a new 2009 strike.

Norway author, Hamsun, will be at the center of several coin issues this year. A silver proof coin was released at the World Money Fair for this Nobel Prize winner.

Austrian Mint

Kerry Tattersall, marketing director for the Austrian Mint, brought news of a new 5 euro Joseph Haydn commemorative for the 200th Anniversary of the great composer's death, along with a new 50 euro gold coin celebrating medicine and Theodor Billroth. The Billroth coin sports a wonderfully detailed design, with an operating room reverse.

Also from Austria this year will be a 25 euro for 400 years of astronomy featuring Galileo Galilei and the dark side of the moon, a Richard the Lion heart 10 euro in silver and the last two coins in the Railway series, featuring an electric train and a railway of the future.

A new series for tales and legends in Austria will begin in 2009 with a coin for the Viennese Middle Ages legend of the Basilisk struck in silver and denominated 10 euro. The 200-year-old struggle of the Tyrolean Resistance Fighters against Napoleon and Bavaria is honored with a great design on an affordable 5 euro coin in 2009, and the Hapsburg Crown series of gold 100 euros continues with the crown of the Austrian Archduke.

Swiss Mint

Kurt Rohrer, general manager, presented the next coins in the Swiss Mint's national park series, which features the red deer on a bimetallic coin. The railways series will add one of the oldest steam trains in Switzerland this year with the Brienz-Rothorn Railway on a proof silver 20 franc, while 100 years of Pro Patria, a foundation to promote Swiss culture, will grace a gold 50 euro type.

The circular design of the 50 Years of Swiss Museum of Transportation silver 20 euro make an interesting display for the advancement of air transport. It's a popular subject and this coin should prove to be a good seller.

Royal Dutch Mint

As J. Rene van Dijk, commercial director for the Royal Dutch Mint emphasized, it does few commemoratives each year, but it does them very well. This year the Royal Dutch Mint has hit on a subject of great interest to several pockets of the coin market. The 400 years of the Dutch VOC Company Manhattan commemorative shows an aerial view of the island then and now on obverse and reverse. It's a design you can't help but admire, and most who view it will want to own this either in its proof silver or gold version.

The second type the Royal Dutch Mint will issue in 2009 commemorates 400 years of trade between Netherlands and Japan and is being struck in a joint effort with the Japan Mint. The design is not yet complete, but given this mint's track record, we can expect something great.

Royal Australian Mint

Looking forward to 2010, Graham Smith, chief executive officer of the Royal Australian Mint, is hoping for a great turnout when the RAM hosts the annual Mint Directors Conference in Canberra. Smith shared a bit of RAM history with the crowd before handing off to Felicity Mullens, director of marketing and sales, who did a quick wrap-up of 2008 and shared some of the RAM 2009 programs.

Their Little Dinkums series continues with a new pair of gold proofs, plus a brand new Mama Roo $1 coin will be released in 2009 featuring a mother kangaroo with four young followers. A gold and a $1 silver type will be struck to celebrate 60 years of Australian citizenship. This design brings together the great melting pot of Aussie culture in a circular propeller-like array. It's a good-looking coin and one that should garner attention from its collector base and beyond.

For the International Year of Astronomy, the RAM has produced a pair of coins with simple, yet fun designs showing the famous parks telescope in a basic brass $1 type and a more intricate silver $20 proof.

Italian Mint

Dr. Amalia Travaglini, general and foreign services manager for the Italian Mint, began her portion of the program with a set of coins honoring the 100th anniversary of Nobel Prize winner Gugliemo Marconi. They will be proofs struck in silver 10 euro and gold 20 euro. Also well known to the numismatic audience will be a bimetallic 2 euro coin celebrating the advances of Louis Braille and a 50 euro for the developing Barcelona Church, which has remained under construction for more years than almost any structure in the world.

The FINA World Championships will have a 10 euro coin for the Aquatic champions, and the Italian Mint will also be striking the silver and gold medals for FINA winners in swimming, diving, water polo and all other water sports.

Also on schedule for 2009 release will be coins for the International Year of Astronomy, 100th anniversary of the founding of Futurism, 300th anniversary of the discovery of Herculaneum, 400th anniversary of the death of Annibale Carracci and the world famous Tour of Italy bicycle race set for May to June of this year.

Vatikan Numismatic Office

The Vatican Numismatic Office announced just a few new issues with themes of Adam and Eve, Astronomy, sculpture and world peace, in denominations of 100, 2, 5, 20 and 50 euro respectively. Their main message to the group gathered, however, was that the Vatican Numismatic Office has no agents. They are the sole distributors of their own coinage.

This statement was made necessary because of the proliferation of counterfeit Vatican euro coins sets being sold worldwide, particularly on the Internet and on Internet-based sales and auction Web sites.

Royal Spanish Mint

The Royal Spanish Mint had a great 2008 with a stunning design for the European Football Championships gold and silver proof issues, a continuing series of gold and silver proofs for Great Spanish Painters and some very interesting coins in silver and gold honoring Ancient coinage.

In 2009 Jose Miguel Fernandez de Liencres, general manager of the sales department, told the Media Forum to expect both gold and silver proof Phillip II coins from the Europa series in 200 and 10 euro denominations, plus a very modern design for the 10th Anniversary of the Euro coinage system in a 12 euro denomination.

The Royal Mint

Expect much from The Royal Mint in 2009 including Accession of Henry VII, a bimetallic 2 pound for Charles Darwin with a Darwin and Ape design, a bimetallic 2 pound for poet Robert Burns and a 2 pound issue for the 250th Anniversary of Kew Gardens. Look forward to coins for Big Ben and Stone Hedge, a new design for the pound coin, a new deluxe silver set, a new Britannia design featuring horses and a new five-coin sovereign set with ? sovereign added.

Then there will be the first of the Olympic Countdown series, designed in very modern and somewhat abstract styles, these coins offer a clock-like feature with each year counting down to a planned Olympic event. These coins will be issued over four years, so it will require some commitment from collectors, tourists and sports enthusiasts, as well as the British public. The coin designs are stunning, however, and will certainly attract a great deal of attention. But The Royal Mint's Olympic program is not exclusively set for expensive silver and gold proof coin issues. It is also planning a 50 pence base metal Olympic series targeting younger collectors with 29 coins to be issued, one for each individual event, including three special coins for the Paralympics.

The centerpiece coin for The Royal Mint Olympic coinage will be a 2012 5-pound coin, not yet designed, meant for broad public consumption and for the high end collector. The Royal Mint will produce their first 1 kilo coin for the 2012 Olympics. In the meantime, look for another first in the form of a 2-pound bimetallic Olympic Handover Ceremony coin, which will come in a lovely tri-fold Olympic packaging.

Japan Mint

The Japan Mint will continue its 47 Prefecture Program this year with issues of colorized silver 1,000 yen proof coins and bicolor clad 500 yen circulating coins for Nagano and Niigata. Nagano is the fourth Prefecture in the series and its bicolor coin will feature Zenkoji Temple with an Ox as a manifestation of Kannon, Bodhisattva of mercy. The fifth Prefecture in the series, Niigata, will have a pair of Japanese Crested Ibises and a rice terrace on its bicolor coin. I believe the mintages on these bicolor base metal coins are about 2 million each, while the silver proofs will be much scarcer with mintages near 100,000. Demand has been strong and I have heard that proof 500 yen coins will also be issued to help satisfy the collector market. Mintage on these bicolor nickel-brass, copper-nickel and copper strikes will be about 30,000 for each type. Next year we can look forward to issues for Ibaraki and Nara Prefectures.

Yoshiake Shinhara, president of Japan Mint, also made one of the major announcements of the Media Forum when he told us that the Japan Mint would be producing a gold coin for the 20th anniversary of the Emperor in 2009. This is a very big event, as no commemorative coin has ever been designed to honor an Emperor of Japan in this way. Look for more information on this important issue later in the year.

Bank of Latvia
Maruta Brukle, head of the Coin Division for the Bank of Latvia, displayed some of the bank's 2008 issues, which were met with great enthusiasm by their collecting public. The 1 lat commemorative for Latvian basketball and the 20 lati Mother issue of the classic 1922 design both were well received.

For 2009 we can look forward to coins honoring the Latvian tradition of chimney sweeps, the post-war establishment of the Republic of Latvia and the University of Latvia.

China Gold Coin Corp

The final presentation of the 2009 Media Forum was done for the China Gold Coin Corp by Sophia Sun, deputy manager of their marketing department. China will bring us seven commemorative coin programs in 2009, with a total of 41 coins issued by year's end. Because of government regulations, coin designs for China cannot be shown publicly until 15 days before their release date, so most of what we can tell you here is based on themes.

China will of course continue their massively popular Panda Gold series in 2009 with five new coins from 1 ounce to 1/20 ounce. Both the Beijing International Coin Expo and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai will have gold and silver coins produced for their events. We can expect coins for the 2010 Chinese Geng Yin Year and plenty of animal types in gold and silver.

Two standouts for the Chinese coin programs in 2009 are the Outlaws of the Marsh literary series of silver and gold proof coins and the significant 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic coin.


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