History is filled with stories and legends of people who fought bravely to defend what they love, to conquer their enemies and bend the world around them to their will. Through their mastery of weapons and skillful application of tactics, they have etched their names into history, never to be forgotten.
The New Zealand Mint has launched a new coin series entitled The Warriors of History series that aim to explore these stories and legendary figures. The launch coin for the series explores at the noble Samurai.
For Hundreds of years the samurai, or Bushi as they were referred to in feudal Japan, were the elite warriors of Japanese culture. From the time the order first rose to prominence in the 12th century until the abolition of the feudal system in 1868, they were the dominant social caste and influenced society at every level. Although the samurai were at the top of the social caste system they still served the more powerful daimyos(Japanese equivalent to lords), shogun and imperial family who formed a part of the nobility and as such were considered above the caste system.
The samurai were legendary for their prowess and skill with a sword, known as katana. They trained constantly and were taught military tactics and strategy. One of the longest lasting influences of the samurai is surely their code of conduct, or Bushido. Bushido, or “the way of the warrior”, was the guiding principle and moral code that the samurai lived by. It emphasizes honour and loyalty as some of it's core principles. Bushido is still considered as the dominant guiding principle in the vast majority of Japanese society to this day.
The reverse of the coin in anchored by a skillfully rendered samurai in full battle armour, about to draw his katana from it's sheath. The warrior is colourized with vibrant blue, red and golden tones. In the background more samurai are waiting in formation and on horseback, poised and ready to attack as soon as the order is given. Some of the samurai in the background can be seen wearing rectangular shaped banners, or sashimono, that served to identify their allegiance on the battlefield. A Japanese castle is visible in the far background to the left. The words “1oz 999 FINE SILVER” are discretely engraved just along the rim, behind the samurai to the right of the coin. All other obligatory text and identifying information have been removed to the obverse, as it should be.
The obverse is characterized by the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II, with his initial “IRB” appearing just below. The rest of the obverse legend marks the country of issue, denomination and date of issue for the coin. “ELIZABETH II NIUE TWO DOLLARS 2016” are engraved along the rim in a clockwise motion.
Another important design feature to note is that only the main samurai on reverse has received selective colour treatment. The rest of the coin, both obverse and reverse, has received an antique finish. The use of antique finishing on collector's coins is one that is surely growing in popularity of late, but nowhere have I seen it applied to better effect than on this coin - at least to date(as I am writing this).
The coin is issued in the now standard New Zealand Mint 'booklet' form display case, with a certificate of authenticity included. The case is styled to resemble an antique book, and again it works remarkably well with the subject matter. Struck from 1oz of pure .999 Fineness silver the coin itself measures 40mm(1.57 inch). With a limited mintage of only 5000 coins the Warriors of History : Samurai silver coin is set to retail for US$85.00 each and can be obtained directly from the New Zealand Mint's web-store, although most reputable international coin dealers should be able to get them as well.
I for one am certainly intrigued by this new coin series from the New Zealand Mint. With a subject matter so rich in possibilities and an undeniably interesting design aesthetic I am very curious to see what the future might hold for this series. World Numismatic News will be sure to keep you updated as soon as new releases become available.