By Thomas Michael
During the World Money Fair 2020, CIT Coin Invest AG announced a new and extremely significant enhancement in its Smartminting technology. Termed Smartminting Reloaded, this advancement allows for 100 percent higher relief while maintaining a highly defined proof finish. Most importantly – and certainly the feature that stunned me when first examining the Majestic Eagle coins struck for Mongolia – was the reach of this higher relief. When you see the coins from a side view, you will notice that the relief extends right to the outer edges of these coins. You will also note that the relief is not symmetrically balanced; it is not necessarily highest at the center and, incredibly, high relief is present on both sides of the coin.
When attending the World Money Fair, we have the pleasure to meet with many mints and distributors of modern coinage. My colleague, Maggie Judkins, and I had our first meeting set for the day we arrived in Berlin, with Falk Liebnitzky, head of marketing for CIT Coin Invest AG. We were joined by Chang Bullock, vice president of sales for the U.S. extension of the company.
Towards the end of our meeting, the Smartminting Reloaded Majestic Eagle coin selection was revealed and we spent some time examining the coins, asking questions and soaking in their many new qualities. We noted that the silver strikes in various sizes were joined by examples struck in gold and copper. This is a significant development due to the varying densities of the material and given the nature of the high relief. With spot prices as they are, I asked if platinum and palladium could also be struck. It was confirmed that this too was in process, further extending the spectrum of metal density that Smartminting Reloaded can handle. To view a short video from this meeting, with a nice presentation from Mr. Bullock, check out Numismatic News’ Facebook page.
To help put this all into a better perspective for collectors, we should note that the original Smartminting technology was launched by CIT Coin Invest AG at the World Money Fair in 2016. The process had been developed in partnership with B. H. Mayer’s of Munich. The first coins I saw that utilized the Smartminting technology were The Great Tea Race coin series produced for Cook Islands in 2016. These were the coins on display at the World Money Fair that year when the announcement for Smartminting was made.
The amazing aspect of these first Great Tea Race coins, in my mind, was their ability to achieve very high relief with a pretty small amount of metal. These silver strikes came in several sizes from about 8 grams to 2 ounces. Of course, the 2-ounce coin had a magnificent relief, better than what you might see on most art medals, while the 8-gram coin had the kind of higher relief you might have seen on a 1-ounce crown coin. It was a bit mind-boggling to see, but the possibilities of producing spectacular-looking coins at lower price points for a wider spectrum of collectors were obvious.
After that 2016 announcement, CIT and Mayer’s continued to tackle more and more interesting coin projects, both for themselves and for other firms who brought their concepts to them to achieve a final product. Both Mayer’s and CIT enjoy the challenges these projects present. I have never heard of them turning away from any creative ideas simply due to the complexities involved in completing them.
Over the years there have been a number of Coin of the Year award-winning coins produced through technological advancements developed in conjunction with these two firms. One such coin was the first Great Micromosaic Passion – Birth of Venus $20 silver piece of Palau. This coin presents a close-up color mosaic representation of the Birth of Venus and was the creative concept of Antonello Galletta, director of Power Coin. Galletta brought his ideas to present unique works of art on coinage in exciting ways to CIT, who in turn worked with B. H. Mayer to achieve the final product. Galletta’s inspiring acceptance speech at the 2019 Coin of the Year awards ceremony at the World Money Fair, when Venus won in the Most Innovative Coin category for its daring use of ceramic tiles, was a great tribute to these working relationships we see in our industry.
We met with Galletta during World Money Fair 2020 to discuss his projects and found that Power Coin has continued to work with CIT and B. H. Mayer’s on many coin series, including one that Galletta described as a highbred step between Smartminting and Smartminting Reloaded. The coin is called Starry Night and represents Van Gogh’s masterful painting in puzzle form. Struck for Palau in 2019, it is the first coin in Power Coin’s Micropuzzle Treasure series. To view a short video from this meeting with Mr. Galletta, visit our Facebook page and website.
Starry Night illustrates two important advancements in the Smartminting evolution. First, it is produced in color. CIT has noted that Smartminting Reloaded can offer high relief in an antiqued finish, such as seen on the highly popular CIT Skull series and Silver Charms collection; color, as seen on the Cook Islands Singapore Orchid or Palau Daisy Flower and brilliant proof, as demonstrated on the Majestic Eagle of Mongolia. Second, the highest relief on Starry Night resides near the outer edge of the coin, with an incused section off center where the empty area of the puzzle occurs. It is more advanced than Smartminting at its launch, but not fully as dynamic as Smartminting Reloaded.
As coining technology moves forward, you will see many innovations from many mints. The Coin of the Year awards have been designed to encourage advancements in the quality of theme and design as well as technology, and we are very pleased to see that so many strides have been taken in these directions. Knowing the desire for a challenge at CIT and Mayer’s, I look forward to many more exciting developments and thrilling announcements in years to come.