Scandinavian hits and myths: Topical Topics
- Published: May 25, 2016, 9 AM
Over the past seven months several world and private mints have launched new coin series that depict Nordic gods and Vikings, the Germanic Norse seafarers who ruled Scandinavia from the eighth to the 11th century.
Though the series are independent of each other, they share a similar theme; several individual coins even celebrate the same subjects. Each series’ basic format is similar, though the artwork varies greatly from one series to the next, and each also has other distinctive features.
Inspired by the success of the Perth Mint’s gods and goddesses of Olympus series of six coins issued in 2014 and 2015, the format for each of the various products is a rimless coin made of two or more ounces of .999 fine silver with an Antique Finish that is struck in high or ultra-high relief with intricately engraved details.
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Each coin is also limited in mintage, comes in an attractive display case, and is housed without a protective capsule due to the high-relief striking.
Issue prices vary, but are typically in the $150 to $200 range.
The first series, launched in September 2015, was issued by a private German mint on behalf of the Cook Islands. It will depict the pantheon of Nordic gods and began, like the others, with Odin, the king of the Nordic gods, and also a coin for Thor, followed by issues for Loki, Tyr, and Heimdall.
Each of these Cook Islands coins has a mintage of 1,000 coins. Antonello Galletta, owner of Powercoin in Italy, which distributes all of the Nordic gods series, said that this series is distributed by a German company, MDM.
Odin was a complex and enigmatic character in Norse mythology and literature, was chief of the Aesir tribe of gods, and his kingdom was known as the Asgard.
He had a tendency to disguise himself and is often depicted wearing a mask, a long hat, and a green coat. He is known as the king of the gods as well as the god of war and death, a sky god, and the god of wisdom and poetry. He was often accompanied by his wolves and ravens.
A different series, first announced last August, called “Legends of Asgard” was issued by the Choice Mint on behalf of Tokelau and was struck by the highly regarded Helvetic Mint in Switzerland. Choice Mint was founded last year by Brian Tully and Doug Beyers, who also own the U.S. coin dealership Choice Bullion.
This series also began with an Odin coin, dated 2016, but this one is made of three ounces of silver, has a 1,500-coin mintage, and has its serial numbers laser-etched on the edge.
Most notably, it uses what Choice calls “max relief,” an innovative approach to high-relief minting that has a depth of 3.5 millimeters. Typically, high and ultra-high relief coins achieve a maximum depth of 2 millimeters.
The series will span 12 coins with three issued per year. The second release, the 2016 Valkyrie coin, is expected soon.
The Odin release, which sold out from the mint to its distributors in three days, according to Tully, has received a great deal of acclaim from collectors, especially for the exceptional design. Galletta of Powercoin noted that the Choice Mint Odin coin is his best-selling Nordic-themed coin following the Cook Islands one.
A third series, which comes from the Scottsdale Mint and is struck for Niue, is called “Vikings: Gods, Kings, and Warriors.” It will include 15 coins made of two ounces of silver each, with a mintage of 1,999 coins apiece and serial numbers laser-etched along the edge. It began with a launch of three coins, for Odin, Cnut and Ragnar respectively.
Artist Heidi Wastweet
A fourth series, struck by the Helvetic Mint on behalf of Niue at the initiative of Gainesville Coins in Florida, also began with its own Odin release.
This issue, which was designed and sculptured by renowned medallic artist and sculptor Heidi Wastweet, is the first coin ever to feature high relief striking on both sides.
The coin is made of two ounces of silver. It also has the lowest mintage among the Odin coins mentioned, at just 750 coins, and comes in a large, luxurious wooden display box that is similar to the boxes that house high-end watches.
Collectors of world coins issued by countries in the British commonwealth often lament the loss of the obverse of those coins to the effigy of Queen Elizabeth that is required on them.
But this coin’s obverse, which uses the Raphael Maklouf effigy of the queen wearing her royal diadem, is different. The left half of the outer rim is filled by a decorative ornamentation of the Midgard Serpent grabbing his tail in his teeth — also an original design created by Wastweet.
Wastweet is also a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and is currently serving in her second four-year term on that body, which reviews the designs for all U.S. coins and medals.
The Perth Mint
The newest entrant into the crowded field of Nordic deity coins comes from the mint that started this particular format of numismatic pieces, the Perth Mint in Western Australia.
The Perth Mint’s series was launched, like the others, with its own Odin coin, released in February 2016.
Limited to 2,000 coins and issued under the legal authority of Tuvalu, Perth’s Odin sold out at the mint and its authorized distributors almost instantly, and rose substantially in price. Interestingly, it is the only Nordic god coin that shows the king of the Aesir riding his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
This series will span three coins, as did the Perth Mint’s previous god and goddesses series. Coins in the series are designed by Ing Ing Jong, one of Perth’s top medallic artists.
The artistic styles used on the coins of each of these series are quite different, with some much more classic in orientation, such as the Cook Islands series, and others much more modern, like the Perth Mint series.
Three series — from Perth Mint, Choice Mint and Gainseville Coins — consist so far of only one coin, while the other two already include several releases.
Collectors now have a wide range of choices of Nordic god releases to suit different aesthetic and numismatic tastes.
Already very popular in movies, comics, and other aspects of popular culture, coins depicting Vikings and Norse gods will continue to be issued over the coming years.
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