The Mint of Poland has issued a unique commemorative coin honoring two of the most important writers in the Western canon, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Interestingly, these two artists who so impacted the literature of their respective languages were contemporaries — Shakespeare died less than two weeks after Cervantes in the Spring of 1616, 400 hundred years ago.
The coin is composed of 17.5 grams of 99.9% silver, with 24-karat gold gilding used to highlight the writers’ portraits. Only 999 of these issues have been struck by the Mint.
The reverse features an image of Shakespeare coated with gold, with an inscription of his name, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. The background carries a depiction of the final scene of Romeo and Juliet, one of the dramatist’s most famous plays. The field carries part of the text of the play as printed in the “First Folio,” an early collection of Shakespeare’s work assembled shortly after his death.
The coin’s obverse carries an image of Cervantes highlighted in gold, with the inscription, MIGUEL DE CERVANTES, curving around the portrait. Rendered in silver is an image of Don Quixote, the eponymous hero of the novelist’s signature work, on horseback. Script from the prologue of the novel appears in the field. Inscribed along the rim of the coin is the name of the issuing country, REPUBLIQUE DU CAMEROUN, 2014, and the face value of 500 FRANCS CFA.
Distribution of the coin outside of Poland is limited. Secondary market purveyors are offering the coin on sites such as eBay for around $90-$200. For more information on the 2016 Cervantes and Shakespeare 500 Francs Commemorative Coin, please visit the Web Site of the Mint of Poland.