January 9, 2014 – The 2014 issue of the hugely popular niobium coin from the Austrian Mint will celebrate the theme of evolution. That the newest issue features two shades of color, blue and green, is in itself a small (r)evolution. Man evolved and now too Austrian Mint has evolved by making this ground breaking bi-metallic coin even more extraordinary.
The coin was designed and engraved by Austrian Mint engraver Helmut Andexlinger. The obverse of the coin depicts DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) as well as RNA (ribonucleic acid) – the keys to evolution. This side of the coin also bears the country of issue, “Republik Oesterreich” (Republic of Austria), the face value of 25 euros and the year of issue, color 2014.
The niobium coin “Evolution”.
The coin’s reverse deals with the history of human development and the diversity of forms of life brought about by evolution. Helmut included a somewhat stylized DNA chain to enhance the overall complexity of the design on the reverse. The DNA chain represents life, represented by the rest of the design elements on the reverse. The brightly colored toucan captures life’s abundance in the air. The fish and frog represent life in the water and how life evolved into land-based creatures. The mushroom is also included because it is a very complex biological world all on its own, in addition to plants and animals. Air bubbles surround these elements representing the key roll oxygen plays in life.
Andexlinger commented, “This was a very difficult theme to present because it is such a complex subject.” He worked with a doctor of biochemistry, Dr. Renée Schroeder, member of the Faculty of Medicine and professor at the University of Vienna. Together they identified key elements that had to be included in the design. Helmut needed a first-hand understanding of genetics in order to ensure the correctness of the design and to decide how best to represent the theme.
Charles Darwin in 1859 or 1860. Darwin developed the theory of evolution by selection. Photo: Wikicommons.
Helmut stated, “This is the most complex design I have ever produced, in addition to the very complex design theme, there were a number of technical challenges that had to be addressed in order to make the design technically feasible to manufacture.” With a combination of computer design technology as well as the classic old world coin engraving, the challenges were overcome and it became possible to precisely strike the coin design in two colors on the bimetallic blank.
Since it was founded, Austrian Mint has united traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology and a tireless quest for innovation. By combining silver and niobium, Austrian Mint has developed an internationally recognized innovation. The colors arise through light refraction on an extremely thin, transparent oxide layer on the niobium metal. The niobium core of the 2014 coin has a greenish background and an aqua blue relief. The pioneering use of a two-stage minting procedure to achieve the two-color effect of its silver niobium coin “Evolution” was a major challenge, and maybe even more of a revolution than an evolution.
This new two colored coin is minted to a maximum of 65,000 pieces in special uncirculated quality only; the coin contains 9 grams of 900 fine silver in its outer ring and 6.5 grams of 998 pure niobium, total diameter is 34 mm. Each piece is encapsulated, boxed and comes complete with a numbered certificate guaranteeing its authenticity.
Check out the article on the niobium coin “Bionics” in Coins Weekly …
… or go to the website of Austrian Mint to look at the whole niobium coin series.
As for the history of mankind you may watch the three episodes of the BBC’s ‘Origins of Us’.