The Ducat of Sigismund the Elder is the newest addition to the History of Polish Coins Series from the Mint of Poland.
The series, which explores Poland's valuable historic contribution to numismatics, has been running since 2013 and has produced nine commemorative numismatic coins so far. The coins excel at promoting the idea that coins are not merely an economic instrument but rather that they are indeed tangible parts of history that capture a specific moment in a countries history and preserves it in time. Each coin features a different coin and ruler from Poland's past.
This, the ninth coin in the series, features the Ducat of Sigismund the Elder. Sigismund I the Old was monarch of Poland as well as serving as Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 to his death in 1548. Sigismund was an ardent supporter of the Renaissance movement and under his reign the currency of the day began to reflect this. The gold Ducat coin is a prime example of this, forgoing the older Byzantine-style portraiture appearing on coins up to the middle ages in favor for a more modern looking coin with increasingly realistic effigies appearing on them.
The reverse design of the coin features detailed reproduction of a gold ducat of Sigismund I the Old with it's crowned five-fielded shield. The five fields depict the Polish White Eagle, the Lithuanian Chase, the Russian Lion, the Prussian Eagle and the small Habsburg Coat of Arms at it's centre. The Habsburg Coat of Arms represents the king’s mother, Elizabeth of Austria, who was wife of Casimir IV Jagiellon. The ducat's legend is inscribed in Latin and reads “IVSTVS VT PALMA FLOREBIT” which translates roughly as: “THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL FLOURISH LIKE A PALM TREE”.
The part of the coin depicting the ducat itself has been gilded with a gold finish to more closely resemble the original coin, and the effect is very impressive on the final coin indeed. This is done on both the obverse and reverse of the coin, while the rest of the surface is left in the natural proof silver.
The rest of the reverse design shows a stylized version of the Polish coat of arms partially visible at the left. The image of the left facing Polish white eagle under a crown was obtained from a 16th century wood carving. On the right, along the coin's rim, is inscribed “DUKAT ZYGMUNTA STAREGO”, which is Polish for “DUKAT OF SIGISMUND THE OLD”.
The obverse design of the coin can be divided into three sections. The first, and most prominent, is the obverse of the dukat coin depicted on the reverse of the coin. Here the crowned effigy of Sigismund I the Old can be seen facing right and wearing armour. The legend of the ducat reads: ”SIGIS I REX POL”, which would stand for “Sigismund I King of Poland”. The image of the ducat is of one issued in 1529.
The second part is a smaller inset over the gold ducat meant to resemble the obverse of a modern Polish circulation coin. It bears the name of the country of Issue, date(2016) and the denomination of the coin(20 Zloty). The third part is around the rim and is a wonderfully decorative representation of the interior dome of the Sigismund Chapel in the Wawel Cathedral in Cracow.
This special numismatic issue from the Mint of Poland is set for a maximum mintage of 20 000 coins. The coin itself is struck from sterling silver(.925 Fineness) with selective gold cladding on the obverse and reverse. The 38.61mm of silver weighs in at just below a full ounce at 28.28gram. The coin is shipped originally in a grey flip-top display case with a certificate of authenticity provided.