Are we living in a new geological age?
The Austrian Mint’s 2018 silver-niobium coin illustrates what activities of modern man have brought about major changes in the Earth’s system. Our footprint on Earth has become wide and deep… will we manage to be gentler in the future?
Are we no longer in the Holocene, the most recent epoch in the history of the Earth? The Holocene started only 11,700 years ago, after the end of the last ice age.
To do justice to the fact that the activities of us humans have brought about and are still causing great changes in the system of the Earth and all its spheres, many scholars say that a new geological epoch has already dawned: the Anthropocene. Chemist and Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen coined the term in order to warn against human-caused global change; one immediately thinks of global warming, rising sea levels and pollution.
There is a short work by the late Swiss novelist and playwright Max Frisch entitled Man in the Holocene. One might add: Does man disappear in the age named after him?
Legal tender in Austria, the 2018 Anthropocene Silver-Niobium 25 Euro coin measures 34.00 mm in diameter and weighs 16.50 grams in total. The outer ring consists of 90% pure silver while the center disc is composed of primarily niobium, a soft, ductile metal when pure that is hardened by impurities.
Perhaps most noticeable on this coin, the 16th entry in the Austrian Mint’s Silver-Niobium bimetallic coin series, is the skillful artistic use of color on the niobium inner core. Over the past decade and more, the Austrians have developed to masterful levels not only the series but also the technical expertise required to produce such varieties of tone in the niobium alloy.
The obverse of the silver outer ring shows creatures from various eras: an Ammonite fossil (Triassic), a member of the family of insects called Tarsophlebiidae (Jurassic); a Triceratops (Cretaceous); a saber-toothed cat (Tertiary); a mammoth and a human (Quaternary), as well as the word Anthropocene.
The niobium interior core shows footprints on the globe (Europe and parts of Asia and Africa); these symbolize the traces that we humans have already left on our planet.
On the niobium inner disc on the reverse, the focus is on the human being. A nude male human is flanked by two deciduous trees. In the background is a globe featuring both North and South America (the Western Hemisphere).
In the silver outer ring, starting clockwise from the right you can see: a factory (which represents industry); rows of homogenous plants (representing the farming practice known as monoculture); an atomizer and an electric power pylon (representing energy); and the logo PET01 for plastic polyethylene terephthalate – an icon for recycling.
Subsequently, climate change is addressed: water droplets (representing floods, rising water levels and glacial melt); snow crystals (representing the melting of the polar ice caps); a thermometer (global warming); a withered stump (deforestation); the chemcial symbol CO2 (carbon dioxide emissions); and dried earth.
The edge of the 2018 Anthropocene 25 euro silver-niobium coin is smooth.
With the retirement of Thomas Pesendorfer in 2016, Helmut Andexlinger is now the Chief Engraver of the Austrian Mint. His innovative work with computer technology has resulted in many award-winning coins for the Mint and places him at the forefront of a younger generation of coin designers (View Designer’s Profile).
A quiet giant, Herbert Wähner is a designer and engraver at the Austrian Mint.
Both artists studied at the Fachschule für Metalldesign in Steyr, Austria.
|Year Of Issue:
|Outer Ring: .900 Silver; Inner Core: Niobium
|Helmut Andexlinger | Herbert Wähner
|Helmut Andexlinger | Herbert Wähner