World Coins

Austrian Mint marks time in niobium

The Austrian Mint’s 2016 colorful niobium coin honors the passage of time.

The ringed-bimetallic €25 coin is the newest issue in an annual series that features heat-treated niobium to offer color on the coin.

The theoretical meaning of time has long been a subject of debate among philosophers, physicists and religious figures, but the more practical discipline of its measurement has proven less of a mystery. Dedicated to the history of chronometry, “Time,” the latest addition to the Austrian Mint’s best-selling silver-niobium coins, uses a two-tone niobium core (light purple and azure blue) and outer silver ring to show a selection of timepieces throughout the ages.

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The obverse of the coin shows the country of issue REPUBLIK ÖSTERREICH (Republic of Austria) and the face value. Main design devices include an analog clock face in the two-toned niobium core, incorporating Roman numerals for the hours, and signs of the zodiac marking astronomical progressions, as well as a chronometer showing seconds and minutes in the outer silver ring.

On the coin’s reverse, ZEIT is inscribed at the bottom, in the outer ring. The sun and moon are featured, along with an hourglass and watch mechanism. A time spiral begins in the ring and extends into the center core. Concurrent digital times in Tokyo, Vienna and New York City are shown along the right side of the ring.

Both sides of the coins were designed and engraved by mint engraver Helmut Andexlinger.

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The division of time constituting an hour of 60 minutes has long existed, though time has since been increasingly sub-divided, first into seconds and eventually nanoseconds and further. This has had the effect of making time ever more precious, with the phrase “time is money,” famously coined by Benjamin Franklin in 1748, being more pertinent today than ever.  

The Austrian Mint’s silver-niobium coins have reached a wide audience. All of the coins in the series to date are sold out and are now available only on the secondary market, where they command prices over their original value. 

The Special Uncirculated 2016 Time coin weighs 15.5 grams, with a 9-gram .900 fine silver ring and a 6.5-gram .998 fine niobium core.

Each piece is encapsulated, boxed and accompanied by a numbered certificate. The issue price is not yet announced. 

To learn more about the coin, visit the Austrian Mint’s website

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