Austria's newest commemorative niobium/silver 25-euro coin
celebrates the technology of robotics, which daily intersects with
multiple facets of human existence.
Applications of robotic technology vary from the solemn duty of
protecting soldiers to mundane household chores like vacuuming, from
the terrestrial (in manufacturing) to the celestial (space exploration).
The special Uncirculated €25 coin, released March 16, is the ninth
annual issue featuring the space age element niobium.
The 2011 coin is the first to feature a niobium core that has
undergone oxidation prior to striking.
Niobium is a rare soft, gray metal that is found in ore. With
special treatment, the surface layers of niobium can be made to change
color, depending on the temperature to which the metal is heated.
The core of the 2011 coin features a reddish pink hue.
The obverse of the coin, designed by Austrian Mint engraver Helmut
Andexlinger, features a robot in a humanoid form posed as the
Vitruvian Man of Leonardo da Vinci.
The Vitruvian-like robot stands on lines of zeros representing the
thousands of lines of binary code required to program a robot.
To the right side of the robot are three cogwheels emblematic of
the inner mechanics of a robot. The binary code and the cogwheels
represent the electronic and mechanical worlds that are required for
developments in robotics.
The reverse of the coin, designed by Austrian Mint Chief Engraver
Thomas Pesendorfer, depicts a robotic lander on the surface of Mars —
the reason the coin sports a deep reddish-pink color.
The six-wheeled Mars lander operates on solar power collected by
large solar panels.
A mountainous Martian landscape covered with boulders is in the background.
Stars twinkle toward the top of the scene in the silver ring, with
Earth shown in the lower part of the silver ring.
In a first for the series, the niobium core for the 2011 coin was
oxidized prior to striking, a different and separate process from the
heat treatment used to create the color, according to Kirsten
Petersen, the Austrian Mint’s director of international markets.
The oxidation gives the niobium “a shimmer that creates a rainbow
effect on the surface of the coin’s core,” she said. “One can see a
shimmer of bronze, blue, purple, pink and copper,” on the surface of
The flow of metal during the striking process determines how the
shimmer effect appears and therefore each coin has a unique color.
The €25 coin weighs 16.15 grams, with the .900 fine silver outer
ring weighing 9 grams and the .998 fine niobium center weighing 7.15 grams.
The coin has a maximum mintage of 65,000 pieces and costs $74 in
the United States and Canada.
To order, telephone distributor Euro Collections International at
(877) 897-7696 or visit its Web site, www.eurocollections.com. ■