Kazakh Coins Preserve National Heritage Through Currency 

ASTANA – Throughout history, coins have functioned as the primary means of payment, providing evidence of currency circulation between countries. Kazakhstan not only issues regular coins for everyday transactions but also mints commemorative and collectible coins, which serve as integral tools in the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage. 

Photo credit: oncoins.net

The Kazakh National Bank minted its first commemorative coins in 1995 at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Oskemen. This coincided with the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abai Kunanbayev, the renowned Kazakh poet, as well as the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Established in 1992, the mint fulfills orders for circulation, commemorative, and collectible coins of various denominations. It also crafts state awards and medals. For the 20th anniversary of the tenge, the mint produced its most expensive coin, made of gold and weighing two kilograms.

Commemorative coins feature diverse themes, including historical events, cultural symbols, the country’s achievements, and its people. They also serve an educational function, offering insights into Kazakhstan’s rich cultural legacy and promoting awareness of its achievements among its citizens and globally. 

Themes of inspiration

On March 29, the bank announced the release of the World Painting collectible coins. The design features a fragment of the Kazakh international art project, including a drawing of a peace dove by artist Karipbek Kuyukov, a victim of nuclear testing at the Semipalatinsk test site, and an olive branch by artist Dauren Kasteev, grandson of Abilkhan Kasteev

World Painting collectible coins, where design features a fragment of the Kazakh international art project. Photo credit: nationalbank.kz

The International Social Art Project comprises fragments created by representatives from countries worldwide. The project set a Guinness World Record as the canvas with the largest number of people passing the brush to one another. The art object conveys the idea that all people, regardless of nationality, religion, or place of residence, strive for harmony and peace.

The National Bank partnered with the German numismatic company MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG Deutsche Münze to release commemorative coins UEFA EURO 2024, dedicated to the European Football Championship. 

The National Bank in partnership with German numismatic company released commemorative coins dedicated to the European Football Championship. Photo credit: nationalbank.kz

The coins feature football, symbolizing the globe, with an image of the outline map of Germany representing cities where championship matches will take place. Twenty-four stars surrounding the ball symbolize the number of teams in the tournament’s final stage.
Coins in the Magical Symbols series, Ai and Kun (Moon and Sun) commemoratives, represent the country’s cultural heritage. The design draws inspiration from the nomadic concept of the unity of opposites, with the sun symbolizing determination and activity and the moon representing pacification and creativity.

Ai and Kun commemoratives, represent the country’s cultural heritage. Photo credit: nationalbank.kz

Last year, the central bank also issued Tanirlik Tanym (Tengri’s gaze) coins depicting ancient civilizations, featuring the Baiterek, a mythical tree of life with the bird Samruk sitting on its top and the dragon Aidakhar at its roots.

Tanirlik Tanym (Tengri’s gaze) coins. Photo credit: nationalbank.kz

In an interview with The Astana Times, Telman Talgatov, a numismatist who collects various coins, including those from Kazakhstan, underscored that coin collecting transcends mere hobbyism, offering a gateway to delving deeper into the origins and historical events. 

“It is a lifestyle and a mindset. A collector’s extensive knowledge in the field enables them to collect the most valuable and rare specimens,” he said. 

The National Bank website publishes the annual coin issuance plan, providing detailed descriptions and facilitating online purchases.

“Premium coins, crafted from gold and silver, hold significant allure,” said Talgatov. “When commemorative coin series comprises two to four variations in different denominations, collectors are tasked with completing the entire set to enhance the value of their collection. Kazakh coins are esteemed not only for their distinctive designs but also for their exceptional quality, attributable to modern technologies.”

He underscored the importance of the condition scale in numismatics, which reflects the extent of wear (attrition) and other damage or imperfections in coins.

“The highest-grade coin is one freshly discharged from the minting machine, handled exclusively by a master wearing specialized gloves, and promptly packaged. Even accidental handling by hand causes a coin’s value to decrease by one point. Safety measures during handling, storage conditions, and other factors significantly impact a coin’s quality,” said Talgatov.

Innovative techniques and global recognition

Kazakhstan also stands out for using tantalum, a valuable metal primarily used in the space industry, in coin production. Coins containing tantalum are dedicated to space themes and have received international recognition for their innovative use of color.

An innovative production technique was demonstrated through the Balqash Alabugasy (the type of fish found in Balkhash Lake) collectible coins, part of the Flora and Fauna of Kazakhstan series released in 2023.

An innovative production technique was demonstrated through the Balqash Alabugasy (the type of fish found in Balkhash Lake) collectible coins. Photo credit: nationalbank.kz

According to the bank, these coins feature a unique design concept developed by specialists at the National Bank. Employing cutting-edge 3D ultra-high relief technology during coinage testing, a prototype was created, presenting a perch head relief elevated 17 millimeters above the coin’s surface—an achievement unmatched by any other mint worldwide.

The space-themed coins have garnered international acclaim for their innovative incorporation of color. Photo credit: yes-coin.kz

The coin premiered in Berlin during the bank’s participation in the World Money Fair at the Media Forum in 2023.

The collection series honoring significant figures and events in the country featured coins commemorating the 150th anniversary of Akhmet Baitursynuly and the 125th anniversary of Mukhtar Auezov. The latter has earned international acclaim, with notable achievements such as receiving third place at the 17th Coins Constellation competition.  

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