Austrian Mint

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EVOLUTION Niobium Silver Bimetallic Coin 25€ Euro Austria 2014


Never prepared to rest on its laurels, the Austrian Mint has now made its groundbreaking Silver Niobium series even more innovative. Using two different shades of niobium for the first time, the blue/green 2014 Evolution edition ingeniously illustrates the story of the development of Homo sapiens from other species.

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Niobium, formerly columbium, is a chemical element with symbol Nb (formerly Cb) and atomic number 41. It is a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. The name comes from Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus since it is so similar to tantalum.
Niobium has physical and chemical properties similar to those of the element tantalum, and the two are therefore difficult to distinguish. The English chemist Charles Hatchett reported a new element similar to tantalum in 1801 and named it columbium. In 1809, the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston wrongly concluded that tantalum and columbium were identical. The German chemist Heinrich Rose determined in 1846 that tantalum ores contain a second element, which he named niobium. In 1864 and 1865, a series of scientific findings clarified that niobium and columbium were the same element (as distinguished from tantalum), and for a century both names were used interchangeably. Niobium was officially adopted as the name of the element in 1949, but the name columbium remains in current use in metallurgy in the United States.
It was not until the early 20th century that niobium was first used commercially. Brazil is the leading producer of niobium and ferroniobium, an alloy of niobium and iron. Niobium is used mostly in alloys, the largest part in special steel such as that used in gas pipelines. Although these alloys contain a maximum of 0.1%, the small percentage of niobium enhances the strength of the steel. The temperature stability of niobium-containing superalloys is important for its use in jet and rocket engines. Niobium is used in various superconducting materials. These superconducting alloys, also containing titanium and tin, are widely used in the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. Other applications of niobium include its use in welding, nuclear industries, electronics, optics, numismatics, and jewelry. In the last two applications, niobium's low toxicity and ability to be colored by anodization are particular advantages.

  • CountryAustria
  • Year2014
  • Face Value25 Euro
  • MetalSilver
  • Fineness (purity)900/1000
  • Weight (g)16.50
  • Diameter (mm)34
  • QualityBU - Brilliant Uncirculated
  • Mintage (pcs)65.000
  • Certificate (COA)Yes
  • Presentation case (box)Yes

Symbolising the origin of Evolution as a whole, an image of the DNA molecule, also known as deoxyribonucleic acid, graces the coin’s obverse. A debate still continues about who exactly should be credited with decoding the molecule, but Francis Crick, James D. Watson and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their work in this field. The coin’s reverse deals with the history of human development and the diversity of forms of life brought about by evolution, with the design making splendid use of the coin’s outer silver ring and inner niobium pill to do so.

Minted to a maximum of 65,000 pieces in Special Uncirculated quality only, the coin contains 9 grammes of 900 Fine Silver in its outer ring and 6.5 grammes of 998 pure niobium. Each piece is encapsulated, boxed and comes complete with a numbered certificate guaranteeing its authenticity.