“The Last Wish“, The Witcher book series, 5 dollars, 2 oz, 45 mm, antique finish ultra high relief coin (3 mm relief), selective gilding, 3D insert, issuer: Niue 2019, client: Mint of Gdansk, producer: Mint of Poland.
I was so excited when Łukasz Rosanowski, the owner of Mint of Gdansk asked me to draw a Witcher series coins. It was a huge challenge! With Łukasz we talked for hours and hours about all details of the first coin and about the whole coin series. We both knew that the project could not refer neither to the Polish, quite old film adaptation of The Witcher, nor to the well-known game. The design of the Witcher coins should be based only to the Andrzej Sapkowski’s book. I need to clarify: „The Last Wish” coin, the firrts coin in this series, was created in 2019 and its premiere took place before famous Netflix „Witcher” series.
When you create the whole coin series, you should first create the whole graphic framework for the entire series. The characters should have the same coherent look in all coins.That’s why the first coin „The Last Wishes” imposed the layout of the series. This first coin was the beginning of the illustrated minted story.
Preparation for a project is always fundamental! I have read “The Last Wish” book several times. I took notes: Geralt’s sword had to be a typical medieval longsword and it should have a notched handle. I had to break with the common Geralt’s image taken from the Polish movie and famous game: no smooth hair combed into a ponytail. And the “book” witcher did not carry two swords on his back! Only one of them was suspended on his back. The second one, the special silver sword, was hidden in the horse saddlebags. Geralt of Rivia was dressed in a coat and a leather jacket laced on the shoulders and under the neck. Unlike his friend Dandelion, Geralt wasn’t handsome. I imagined Witcher to be a crude, strong guy with messily flowing hair tied with a headband on his forehead.
My husband, who is a fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s saga, supported me in my project. He verified all my sketches with a very critical eye. He checked all details of the main illustration. I worked with two book editions: the paper edition and e-book version of the saga–just to be able to find faster the necessary descriptions. The design of the coin had to be as close to the text as posible.
The “Last Wish” coin design is not simply one selected scene from a book. I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t do something unusual. 😉 The reverse of the coin is a compilation of two different scenes from the book:
1) Dandelion loses his voice and Geralt fights with the Genie to protect his friend. Gerald holds in his hand a seal with a nine-pointed star (this is not the Aard sign!),
2) Yennefer, holding in both hands a magic ball with a pentagram, is approaching to the Genie. Behind her a portal opens.
In the book, these two scenes do not happen at the same time, but on the coin they do. I named them simultanous scenes. Of course this is nothing new… We know simultaneous scenes from the medieval paintings and painted lives of saints.
On the obverse we see elements that are repeated on each coin in the Witchers’ series:
• an ornamental ring with a pattern in a Celtic style;
• three Witcher swords (two of Geralt’s and one of Ciri’s—all three as described in the book),
• a Geralt’s medallion with a wolf,
• Yennefer’s medallion: an obsidian star with diamonds.
Sword of Destiny
“Sword of Destiny“, the 2nd coin in Witcher series, selective gilding, 3D insert, issuer: Niue 2020.
On the reverse: inside the oak tree, Eithné—queen of Brokilon, gives Ciri a cup of the Water of Brokilon. In the background we see the dryad Braenn. And on the simultaneous scene: in Brokilon forest Geralt is fighting against a scolopendromorph.
The first rough sketch showed a completely different scene: a dryad archer and Geralt are fighting against the scolopendromorph to protect Ciri. Ciri is hidden in the bushes.
On the obverse: the Brokilon forest.
Blood of Elves
“Blood of Elves“, the 3nd coin in Witcher series, selective gilding, wooden insert, issuer: Niue 2022.
I was working about 9 months on the 3rd coin in the Witcher series. It was very tough project. About ten sketches of this coin were created. Concepts were constantly changing… Finally the decision was made: on the 3rd coin we will see Geralt’s fight with the Scoia’tael elf. The elf, in a characteristic hat with a squirrel tail, is bleedeing after the mortal cut of Geralt’s sword. She falls to her knees and before she fell on her face, she screamed: „Shaerraweeeeedd!!!”.
Ciri, witcher’s apprentice, with her hair cut short, has a rose in her vest. She picked this white rose from the Shaerrawedd rose bush. In the background, we see a simultaneous scene: furious Yarpen Zigrin cuts with an ax the black-bearded dwarf. This dwarf just killed Yarpen’s brother which body we see behind. In the background, the approaching Scoia’tael troups and burned houses.
The coin is minted. The weakest link in this coin composition is the cart wheel insert. Made of small piece of wood, the insert is not filigree enough and it does not match the detailed coin relief. Not empty gaps between the spokes do not look natural. A 3D printing insert would probably be better. What a pity!
On the obverse:
• Shaerrawedd—a destroyed elven palace,
• a gravestone of Aelirenn—also called the White Rose of Shaerrawedd, the leader of the elves,
• a rose bush from which Ciri picked a flower.
Above the scene a hypothetical Scoia’tael coat of arms with a squirrel.
Unfortunately, my adventure with the Witcher coin series ended with these three coins. Do the subsequent coins reflect my original idea of the simultaneous scenes? Judge for yourself.