• golino_edited

    Modern Numismatics

    Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. He writes about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum.

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  • Niobium Solar System Series Begins with Saturn Coin

    ?Niobium, which was discovered in 1801, is rarer than silver and is used primarily in the aerospace industry.  It has also been used in combination with silver on a limited number of coin series from world mints, including those of Austria, Canada, and Latvia most notably. The Austrian series has been until now the real leader for this kind of coin that features an inner ring of niobium and an outer one of silver. 

    The Austrian coins, which focus on themes related to science and technology, have been selling out more and more quickly in recent years, and past issues have seen very substantial gains from an issue price of about 70 euros.  In fact, the first two coins sell for a lot and are very difficult to source.  For example, the 2003 700th anniversary of the Tyrol City Hall now brings $650-1000.

    A new niobium-silver coin series about the planets of our solar system is being launched with a 2017 coin about Saturn that should be available in April.  Issued in the name of the island nation of Palau, it was produced through a collaboration of Coin Invest Trust, which served as production supervisor, and the Mayer Mint in Germany, one of that country’s most highly regarded and oldest private mints. Those two companies are on the cutting edge of high-quality, innovative coin minting, producing coins for numerous countries.

    The new series is clearly inspired by the Austrian one.  From the similar packaging (an elegant red box with an outer white sleeve and certificate of authenticity) to the amounts of silver and niobium used and the total weight, which are very similar.  The Palau coin combines 6.7 grams of niobium with 8.3 grams of silver for a total weight of 15 grams and have a 30-millimeter diameter.

    However, where the Austrian coins have a mintage of 65,000 coins, the Palau coins will be limited to just 3,000 for each issue, which will be one for each planet over 8 years, unless scientists’ effort to have Pluto reinstated as a planet are successful, which would mean 9 coins. That is a difference in mintage of over 2,000%! That means the entire Palau series’ mintage of 24,000 coins is less than half of each Austrian issue.  In addition, where the Austrian coins were mint state pieces, the new series will be struck in proof.

    The $2 Saturn coin sports a stunning design in which the niobium center has been oxidized to make it yellow, again like the Austrian coins, which each feature different colors.  The obverse shows the Palau coats of arms and the nine planets of the solar system (including Pluto) and their orbital rings in black for those in the yellow center, while the reverse depicts the planet in yellow with its famous rings.  Last year the Cassini space probe reached Saturn and its moons and took photos of them.

    I expect these coins to be very popular, especially as the first of a new series on one of the most popular and widely collected themes in modern numismatics.  And this is a series that should not be very difficult or expensive to complete, and it would make a great gift for a young collector who gazes at the stars. 

    The Saturn piece can be purchased from coin dealers who specialize in modern issues, including First Coin Company in California, which offers free worldwide shipping, and Powercoin in Italy.

    Information on Saturn from Wikipedia:
    Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius about nine times that of Earth. Although it has only one-eighth the average density of Earth, with its larger volume Saturn is just over 95 times more massive. Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture. Saturn's interior is probably composed of a core of iron–nickel and rock (silicon and oxygen compounds). This core is surrounded by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen, an intermediate layer of liquid hydrogen and liquid helium, and finally outside the Frenkel line a gaseous outer layer. Saturn has a pale yellow-hue due to ammonia crystals in its upper atmosphere. Electrical current within the metallic hydrogen layer is thought to give rise to Saturn's planetary magnetic field, which is weaker than Earth's, but has a magnetic moment 580 times that of Earth due to Saturn's larger size. Saturn's magnetic field strength is around one-twentieth of Jupiter's. The outer atmosphere is generally bland and lacking in contrast, although long-lived features can appear. Wind speeds on Saturn can reach 1.800 km/h (500 m/s), higher than on Jupiter, but not as high as those on Neptune. Saturn has a prominent ring system that consists of nine continuous main rings and three discontinuous arcs and that is composed mostly of ice particles with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust. Sixty-two moons are known to orbit Saturn, of which fifty-three are officially named. This does not include the hundreds of moonlets comprising the rings. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and the second-largest in the Solar System, is larger than the planet Mercury, although less massive, and is the only moon in the Solar System to have a substantial atmosphere.