Mention coin and the mind goes to the traditional hammered or cast coinage or the modern-day minting, where coin dies are used to mint billions of coins. However, what Roman Booteen, the Russian coin engraver, does is something entirely different. Not for him the hammers casts or dies, he engraves his coins in beautiful figures and designs with his own hands. Not only this, but he also adds some intriguing features to it.
It’s to the credit of this Russian artist to keep this ancient craft alive via his beautiful coin carving. He uses hobo nickel for engraving coins. Hobo nickel is a preferred choice of hand engravers because its thickness and relative softness lend itself to engraving miniature bas reliefs.
Little wonder Booteen’s hobo nickel coins, with slightly raised cut shapes of the figures, look so alluring. What’s more endearing is his cleverly installed integrated mechanisms that actually make some part of the metal design move on the coin. In his collection, no two coins are alike. And it’s not only the figures in bas reliefs that make them different but also the unique integrated mechanisms hidden in his coins.
Take for example Booteen’s coin that features a central golden heart, with anatomically correct proportions and intricately carved veins, that actually beats by turning a small cog at the bottom, mimicking the real heartbeat. One of his recent coins has a secret door that can only be opened by removing the knight’s sword and inserting it into the top of the coin.
Another one of Booteen’s extraordinary piece, titled Gold Bug, features a beetle motif in the center of the coin with a mechanism that makes its wing open and close, revealing its body, which is made of 22-carat gold. The face changing coin is another of his unique creations.
Booteen’s coins can be bought on popular online retail outlets, but are by no means cheap. One of his coins, titled ‘Trap with the Golden Bait, sold for a whopping US$10,101 on eBay! Little wonder he enjoys a viewership of over 367,000 followers on Instagram alone.