It is an exiting time to be a numismatist, coin collectors are literally spoilt for choice these days. With so many technological advances being made in the minting and finishing process, coupled with various world mints becoming more daring and creative with their designs. From domed coins(like the Royal Australian Mint's Northern Skies series), coins using multiple metals either precious or base(like the excellent Oedipus and Sphinx coin from the new Greek Myths series produced by the Art Mint), to colourized coins(which are everywhere these days), to shaped coins(like the Royal Canadian Mint's Maple Leaf and Delta shaped coins).
This brings us to the latest offering from the acclaimed CIT(Coin Investment Trust) which unveiled quite a large number of new coins at last week's ANA Fair. By far the most interesting of these was the new skull shaped coin for the island nation of Palau.
The coin is produced with the CIT's relatively new Smartminting technology which is capable of producing incredibly high and detailed reliefs on standard sized or even very small coins.
A for the design, the reverse of the coin is ... well, a human skull. The name pretty much says it all. It depicts a skull as viewed from the front at a very slight downward angle. The coin is treated with an antique finish with a slight luster on the highest parts of the relief and a darker gray to almost black on the deepest parts.
The obverse is plain in comparison, a completely flat surface with the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Palau at the centre, with the words”REPUBLIC OF PALAU” and “$5” surrounding it. Separating the two are three five-pointed stars and a semi-circular line on both sides. The date of issue “2016” appears at the very bottom and “.999” at the very top.
As unusual as it sounds the coin is crown sized at 38.61mm(1.52 Inch) at it's tallest point. The $5 coin is minted from 1oz of pure .999 Fineness silver, and is issued in a square tin box with a skull printed on the lid. At a total mintage of only 1750 coins I'm quite sure that this unique offering will sell out fairly quickly.
Officially the coin is called the “Skull No 1” coin, which might indicate that there are plans for a series of these in the future, although no official word has been released on that yet. I can only surmise that the popularity of the skull shaped coin will first be gauged and then we will find out if there will be more or if this will be a one hit wonder. All I can add to that is that the general reaction I've seen so far has been positive, and I for one think that the skull no 1 coin looks great.
In addition to the 1oz silver “Skull No1” $5 coin, there will also be a special $1 gold coin released. The gold coin is positively tiny in comparison to the stunning silver high relief piece. Measuring only 11mm(0.433 Inch) at it's tallest and stuck from a minuscule 0.5gram(0.0161 oz) of pure 99.99% fine gold. The gold coin is far less impressive than it's larger silver counterpart.
The stunning relief of the silver coin is replaced with a simple skull outline on the reverse, while the obverse is left largely the same. The coin is denominated as $1 and received a brilliant uncirculated finish. A far more significant mintage figure of 15 000 coins will be released for the golden skull.
The coins should be available to order from most reputable international coin dealers.