Austrian Mint

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ASTRONOMY Niobium Silver Bimetallic Coin 25€ Euro Austria 2009


In 1609, mathematician and astronomer Galileo first observed the moon with a telescope. His subsequent drawings of its surface provide the background to his portrait on this marvelous golden yellow silver niobium 25 euro coin’s reverse.

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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
  • Year2009
  • 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

The Sterling silver ring around its niobium core shows the development of the telescope spanning from Isaac Newton to present-day radio telescopes. The dark side of the moon was, however, beyond Galileo’s reach. A satellite is shown orbiting it on the obverse of the coin, while the outer silver ring shows planet Earth partly covered by the moon and a stylised sun illuminating the heavens.

The 25 euro silver-niobium coin has proven to be one of the most popular of all issues, anxiously awaited by coin collectors and connoisseurs alike. Struck in Special Uncirculated quality to a maximum mintage of 65,000 pieces, each piece comes in an attractive box with a numbered certificate of authenticity.