“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.”
— “Let It Snow” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, 1945
World coins that have snow in some form as a
major design element are especially meaningful to collectors (in
nations that see snow) because often that first frozen precipitation
of the season is what revs the numismatic engine. Among those
collectors who are not active year round, the combination of shorter
daylight and a white wintry storm draws them irresistibly back to
their indoor hobby.
Snow appears on coins in several forms, but
only in its most basic form is it symbolic and artistic.
From paper cutouts to silver and crystal,
people love to re-create the fragile beauty of snowflakes. A press
release from the Royal Canadian Mint for one of its Snowflake coins
said, “When it comes to symbols that represent Canada, the snowflake
could be a close second to the maple leaf.”
Canada has issued 11 Snowflake coins to date,
beginning with gold and silver versions in 2006. In 2011, Canada
created the Happy Holidays Snowflake 25-cent coin, the only one not
made of precious metal or imbedded with crystals but lovely in its
simplicity all the same. It features one snowflake centered on the reverse.
Latvia paid tribute to the internationally
beloved snowman in 2007 with a snowman 1-lats coin. At 21 millimeters
in diameter, it is not a large coin, so at first glance the figure
could be mistaken for a human being by the casual observer, except for
something unique to snow people. The generous-sized carrot that serves
as the snowman’s nose ensures that everyone will know him for what he is.
Good thinking, Latvia.
There is an art to making a good snowball and
many strategies for effective snowball fighting, so, when the Isle of
Man issued a 50-penny coin in 1996 depicting a snowball fight, it was
an instant hit with a lot of people. The design shows two armies of
choirboys outside of a church on Christmas morn exchanging bombs of
hand-packed snow while a dog looks on.
Thanks to the Winter Olympics, we have many
world coins with snowflake backdrops and snowy trails and slopes that
depict athletes enjoying snow sports.
A 1987 Winter Olympics 2-lev commemorative
from Bulgaria uses a partial snowflake in the background and a series
of straight lines to show the speed at which a skier races downhill
One-fourth of Finland lies within the Arctic
Circle, so snow is very important to the culture of this nation.
In 2012, Finland issued a ringed-bimetallic
series of three €5 coins celebrating “Nordic Nature” with a common
snowflake obverse and reverses of winter scenes: a landscape, flora
The latter cleverly shows, not the arctic fox,
but her paw prints in the snow. The use of texture and polishing
techniques brings both sides of these coins to life and make a frozen
monotone environment visible as well as appealing.
Instead of using texture, North Korea made the
snow more apparent on a Proof 1995 silver 100-won coin that was
colored at the mint. The white snow-covered mountains of the South
Pole in the background are joined by the Adélie penguins of Antarctica
that have been colored black, white and orange.
Two famous fairy tales that have the word
“snow” in the title and have been commemorated on world coins are Snow
White and The Snow Queen.
Snow White, a German fairy tale by the
Brothers Grimm, has been honored on coins by France and Germany.
The Snow Queen, a story by Hans Christian
Anderson, has been commemorated on coins by the Cook Islands, Belarus
In 2006, Denmark celebrated the bicentenary of
the birth of Anderson, its native son, by issuing a 10-krone coin with
the Snow Queen on the reverse and Denmark’s real life Queen Margrethe
II on the obverse.
In addition to literature, snow is a part of
the linguistic culture in every nation where it falls.
“A snowball’s chance in hell” is an “idiom of
improbability,” and is illustrated by a clever aluminum Mardi Gras
doubloon token. The obverse contains a clown and the legend
TRI-PARRISH, 1966 CARNIVAL CLUB; and the reverse shows a devil
surrounded by flames and juggling melting snowballs, with the
inscription SNOWBALLS IN HELL, NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS.