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Garys July Coin of the Month the Denmark Mermaid Coin



This months column is a companion piece to last months, and features a Denmark NGC MS-64 1890-CS 20 Kroner gold coin.

The 1890 20 Kroner with a mintage of 102,000 was minted in Copenhagen as signified by the heart to the left of the date. The initials CS to the right of the date represent mint official Diderik Christian Andreas Svendsen. The coin struck in .900 fine gold weighs 8.9605 grams and has an AGW of .2593oz.

The obverse of this coin features a right facing bust of King Christian outside-affiliatelinksnotallowed The initials HC at the base of Christian IXs truncated neck represent the coins engraver, Harald Conradsen. The coins reverse features a seated image of Dania with her left forearm resting on the upper rim of a shield engraved with the Danish coat of arms. In Danias right hand is a scepter representing Denmarks sovereignty. A sheaf of corn behind Dania represents Denmarks agricultural economy and its main export. Finally, at the feet of Dania illustrating Danish naval prowess is a dolphin, which denotes good luck and fair weather.

There is a cliché with some validity which asserts that perception becomes reality. For example, the wings of Libertys headdress on the Mercury Dime were to signify freedom of thought. However, the public perceived the coin to represent the Roman god Mercury and thus the Winged Liberty Head Dime is forever known as The Mercury Dime.

Born of a Danish fascination with mermaids, this cliché also applies to the Danish 20 Kroner commonly referred to as the Mermaid Coin. Although the image on the reverse of the 20 Kroner is clearly not that of a mermaid, it can appear like a mermaid in the imagination of the person viewing the coin by merging the tail of the dolphin into the feet of Dania.

Denmark as a seafaring nation would naturally be attracted to anything concerning the sea. Add to this the charm of maritime folklore and it is easy to see the connection between the Danish people and the Mermaid Coin.

Danish author Hans Christian Anderson tapped into the essence of this when he published the popular childrens fairytale The Little Mermaid in 1837. Later in 1909, commissioned by brewer and art collector Carl Jacobsen, sculptor Edvard Eriksen fashioned a statue based on The Little Mermaid. Now an iconic symbol of Copenhagen, the life-size bronze of The Little Mermaid sits on a rock in the harbor off Langelinie Promenade.

Here in the United States, most of us identify more with the 1989 Walt Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid. My daughter was only five when this movie first came out and I well remember her fascination with mermaids.

I also remember back then when my daughter and I were shopping at the grocery store. As we were walking by a small display near the tuna fish aisle, my Little Girl pointed and said, Daddy, mermaid. Wrapped around her little finger, I tore off a redemption coupon from the Chicken of the Sea display offering a mermaid doll in exchange for a certain number of tuna can labels. You can well imagine what happened after that. Let us just say we ate a lot of Chicken of the Sea tuna for a while!

Many of the coins in my collection remind me of fond life experiences and this coin is no exception by reminding me of the aforementioned times I had with my daughter. Furthermore, as shown in this column, one of the beauties of numismatics is that the interpretation of allegorical images is often in the eyes of the beholder. While artists and engravers have their own ideas about the allegorical messages of their coins, it all comes down to how you perceive the coin in your hand!

Until next month, happy collecting!



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