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What Is a Niobium Coin?

As an avid numismatist or Precious Metals investor, you may have heard a bit of buzz regarding niobium coins. There are indeed a few coins made of a 50% Silver and 50% niobium alloy on the market right now and here we will discuss what, exactly, niobium is and why a niobium coin might interest you.

What is Niobium?

Niobium, previously known in the U.S. as columbium, is a chemical element under the symbol Nb with the atomic number 41. Niobium is a soft, whitish, ductile, transition metal often found in the minerals pyrochlore and columbite. The name niobium comes from Greek mythology. Niobe is the daughter of Tantalus, after whom tantalum is named. This pairing reflects the tremendous similarity between the two elements in both their physical and chemical properties. It is difficult to tell them apart except in a laboratory setting.

Uses of Niobium

Niobium is extremely useful as an alloy. As little as 0.1% niobium can increase the strength of steel. The more niobium in an alloy, the stronger it is, and certain niobium alloys are used to craft jet engine parts. Niobium is also a superconductor and has applications in the medical and science areas. MRI machines and the Large Hadron Collider, for example, both need niobium elements to function. This lesser-known metal is a very important part of our everyday lives although many people are not even aware of its existence.

Niobium Coins

The Austrian Mint is one of the world’s oldest and most venerable mints, with roots reaching back to 1194. The Austrian Mint as we know it dates to 1918, when the Republic of Austria came into being. The beloved and iconic Philharmonic Silver and Gold coins by the Austrian Mint are among the world’s most widely traded bullion coins and make the mint famous to numismatists. In 2003, the mint issued a 25 Euro coin featuring an outer ring of Silver encircling an inner disc of niobium. There has been a niobium coin issued each year since and this is now the Austrian Mint’s best-known collector series. Niobium coins honor Austrian, European and global advances in science and technology.  This fascinating and innovative series represents the first use of niobium, a metal rarer than Silver, in a numismatic series. You can see and purchase these special, unusual coins at APMEX. We have the 2017 Austria Silver/Niobium Microcosm €25 BU, a striking coin of Silver surrounding niobium carefully oxidized into a coral pink and reptilian green. It’s a gorgeous coin honoring the science of the microcosm. The Silver ring of the coin bears enlarged views of everything from a butterfly wing to a cell. It is meant to tell the story of beauty found at a microscopic level.

We at APMEX believe there is great numismatic value in these special and fascinatingly beautiful coins. Shop niobium coins at APMEX today.

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