Fans of space- and astronomy-themed coins will find much to like with the latest issue from Niue Island’s Solar System coin series. Struck by the Mint of Poland for Niue, “Mars” is a domed silver coin that replicates the surface of the famous red planet, and bears a piece of meteorite NWA 7397.
The original, 2.1-kilogram meteorite was found near Smara, Morocco, and purchased in June 2012 by Darryl Pitt and David Gheesling. Its incredible journey from Mars began billions of years ago, as part of a rock formation developing within the planet. At some unknown point later, an asteroid or comet struck Mars with enough force to blast surface debris into space, where it became part of the interplanetary rubble that occasionally falls into the gravitational pull of another planet—in this case, Earth. More than 61,000 meteorites have been found on our planet so far; more than 130 of them have been identified as having the same elemental composition as material on Mars.
One similar meteorite, NWA 7034, is nicknamed “Black Beauty” and was found in Morocco in 2011. (It was purchased by Jay Piatek and a slice of it was donated to the University of New Mexico.) Black Beauty is thought to be the second-oldest Martian meteorite known. Both it and NWA 7397 (the source of the material for the coins) are among the meteorites from Northwest Africa that have been approved by the Meteorological Society. (Click the link to go to the society’s page on NWA 7397.)
The legal-tender coins are struck in a domed format suggesting the curve of the planet; the planet’s surface is depicted with ultra-high-relief craters and enhanced with a special antique finish containing copper to replicate the planet’s color. Beneath the red surface is 1 troy ounce of .999 fine silver. The concave (cupped) obverse bears a reduced-size portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, as designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. The portrait is off-center to the left and is surrounded by the legends ELIZABETH II above, NIUE ISLAND 2017 below, and Ag999 to the right. At the bottom of the coin is the denomination, ONE DOLLAR.
The convex (domed) reverse depicts the Valles Marineris canyon system of Mars, which is over 2,000 kilometers long and up to 8 kilometers deep. The ancient piece of meteorite is set into the largest part of the canyon. The words SOLAR SYSTEM–MARS are placed at the top of the field, so as not to obstruct the detailed view of the surface.
|$1 (NA)||.999 silver||31.1 g||38.61 mm||Ultra high relief, antiqued copper, with meteorite||686|
Each coin is housed in a wooden box with color outer packaging and certificate of authenticity. “Mars” is available from World Mint News Blog sponsor First Coin and other retailers. ❑