Czech Republic’s first bullion coin: Beautiful and unusual in more ways than one

Background: Selection from a panoramic view of Prague Castle (photo by Jan Fidler). Scroll to the bottom for the full panorama.

For the first time ever, the Czech Republic has issued bullion investment coins. Introduced at the Investor Prague Show, the Czech Lion joins the ranks of the American Eagle, the Chinese Panda, the U.K.’s Britannia, the Australian Kangaroo, and several other government-guaranteed bullion programs. The Lion also joins a more exclusive club: well-designed, low-mintage bullion coins that, in their first (and in some cases, only) year of issue, end up fetching a premium as collectibles. Writing for CoinWorld.com, Louis Golino describes these as “semi-numismatic bullion coins.”

World-coin collectors are used to seeing various mints produce coins for the tiny island of Niue, which lacks a mint of its own. Turning this model on its head, Niue was called upon to help create a coin for the Czech Republic, which has a mint (the Česká Mincovna) but doesn’t have a bullion program.

The Czech Mint’s first bullion coin is the inaugural issue in the “Czech Nationhood” series. The designer is the late Jaroslav Bejvl Sr., a world-renowned designer of coins, medals, and crystal chandeliers. Bejvl passed away last year at the age of 75, after creating the design but before transferring it to a relief model. A young medalist named Asamat Baltaev stepped in to handle the final steps of the process.

(Hover to zoom)

The coin has Niue’s traditional obverse—the well-known Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II, along with the legends NIUE ISLAND and ELIZABETH II, the denomination, and 2017—but with a twist: the effigy is raised above center to make room for a linden branch across the lower portion of the coin. The Czech national tree, the linden, is heavily referenced in mythology and is especially long-lived, with some in the country being more than a thousand years old.

The reverse design represents the three Czech lands: Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. The two-tailed Bohemian lion is depicted in a naturalistic style to the right of the field, reclining with its shoulders to the left and its tails to the right. The double tails have multiple historical explanations, the essence of which is that they convey more than the usual amount of courage.

The St. Wenceslas crown, ordinarily under lock and key in an undisclosed area in St. Vitus’s Cathedral, was photographed while on display in 2016. (Photo by K. Pacovsky)

Coat of arms of the Czech Republic, with Bohemian lion in first and fourth quarters and Moravian/Silesian eagle in second and third quarters. (Wikipedia image)

The lion reclines beside a pedestal bearing the St. Wenceslas Crown on a tasseled pillow. Part of the Bohemian crown jewels, the St. Wenceslas Crown was made in 1347 at the behest of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV for his coronation. He dedicated it to St. Wenceslas, the first patron saint of Bohemia. Leaning against the pedestal by the lion’s shoulder is a simple shield depicting a single, flaming eagle, described variously as the Moravian eagle, the Silesian eagle, and the Premyslid eagle (for the earliest ruling Bohemian dynasty). Below the main design are the words ČESKÁ REPUBLIKA, while above and slightly to the right are the weight, metal, and fineness.

Both gold and silver versions are available. All are struck in a Brilliant Uncirculated finish with plain edge; face values are in New Zealand dollars.

Denom. Weight Diam.  Mintage Packaging
.9999 gold
$5 1.24 g (1/25 oz.) 13 mm  4,500 Encapsulated
$5 1.24 g (1/25 oz.) 13 mm  500 Numbered blister-pack
$250 155.5 g (5 oz.) 50 mm  50 Dark wood box & COA
$500 311 g (10 oz.) 65 mm  50 Dark wood box & COA
$8,000 1,000 g (1 kilo) 85 mm  25 Dark wood box &COA
.999 silver
$1 31.1 g (1 oz.) 37 mm  500 Encapsulated
$1 31.1 g (1 oz.) 37 mm  9,500 Numbered blister-pack
$25 311 g (10 oz.) 75 mm  200 Blond wood box & COA
$80 1,000 g (1 kilo) 90 mm  200 Blond wood box & COA




As of the date of this post, all but the gold and silver kilos and the gold 1/25-ounce coins are sold out at the Czech Mint. The coins are distributed worldwide; in the United States, APMEX is the exclusive vendor.

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Comments

  1. Qui Transtulit Sustinet says

    Recently received my Czech Republic Bohemian Lion bullion/New Zealand dollar.

    Despite the Niue Island/Elizabeth II confusion, the Czech Mint has issued a very attractive, low mintage (10,000), first year (2017), silver bullion coin.

    I like the design, especially the two-tailed Lion on the “Reverse”, but also the Linden Branch motif below Queen Elizabeth.

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