CoinWeek Staff Reports…
The Austrian Mint’s 2015 Niobium 25 euro coin has sold out, according to Kirsten Petersen of the Austrian Mint. The coin, which sports a mid-century modern design aesthetic, shows a cosmos filled with planets and stars and celebrates mankind’s efforts to peak beyond the protective envelope of our planet.
To see the CoinWeek unboxing video of the 2015 “Cosmology” Niobium coin, click here.
CoinWeek reached out to Austrian Mint Designer Helmut Andexlinger to ask him about the new coin and whether designers of postmodern “collectible” coins still see their creations as money.
CoinWeek: The Austrian Mint’s Niobium coin series always pushes the envelope when it comes to design, but this year’s design takes things to another level. Describe for CoinWeek readers how your design for the 2015 coin came together?
Helmut Andexlinger: Originally, it all began with the theme of Physics and after the engravers of the Austrian Mint had undertaken some research, they realized that it was such a large and complex field that the inspiration was “where do we begin.” The engravers identified several fields within the complex topic of Physics and found that Astrophysics was a well defined and yet very broad field which also provided several inspiring ideas for coin designs. A very cool theme in fact.
They met with a professor Dr. Oberhummer who teaches at the Atomic Institute of the Technical University of Vienna during lunch. By the end of the luncheon, the “whole” field had been described and studied in “detail on a napkin.” The ideas of “Multiversum” and “ Universum” were promenient which led to topics like the ELT telescope and the Rosetta Satellite, both very current topics in this field.
CW: As a designer, do you decide upon the color palate for the coin?
HA: As a designer of course, we are encouraged to make colour suggestions, I particularly liked the way dark blue and gold or yellow seemed to enhance my design. The final decision in terms of color and final design of course is shared by all of us, designers, marketing and the bosses of the Mint.
CW: When it comes to designing modern non-circulating coins, how much does the idea that this is “money” impact your design choices?
HA: Honestly, in this case the design of the coin is key. To present the theme in a meaningful and attractive way so that the story pops off the coin is essential.
CW: How is designing coins different than other forms of medallic art?
HA: The tooling of course is very different of coins vs medals. But the design and engraver of either is really similar. There are certain design specifics that each coin has that must be considered when designing on metallic object such as the diameter and that is the same for both a plastic token or a coin with a 20 mm diameter.
CW: How long did it take to design the 2015 Niobium coin from start to finish?
HA: It took about 2 months from the start of developing the design ideas to the finalizing the master tools.
CW: You’ve designed several Niobium coins for the Austrian Mint. How is working with Niobium different than working with gold or silver?
HA: Yes, in fact this is my fourth niobium/silver coin design which I completed and in addition I have done either an obverse of reverse for three more of these niobium coins.
The niobium coins are a particularly complex coin to work on, very much a challenge for all of us in the engraving department. First of all the design is very detailed and one must think of the silver ring as well as the niobium core and how the design will be best positioned on it and flow over the different metals. In addition one must also remember that the design will have over 100 tonnes of pressure applied to it during the striking of the coins. The surface of the niobium has already been oxidized and given its final colour, so the design must work well with this weight and not spilt the niobium surface of the core.
This is not required for gold and silver coins. When designing a gold or silver coin the height of the design is much more the critical factor.
CW: Ok, one last question, before you go…. Do you collect the coins that you design?
HA: Oh, yes. Indeed, I do buy the coins I design.
CW: Thank you, and congratulations on your well-executed design.