L’île d’Héliopolis
 
After completing Nichtsburg et Zilchstadt coin, Erik V. McCrea decided to design a new coin. As an English teacher he loves poetry, therefore the design of L’île d’Héliopolis reflects the poetry aspects on his coin. Below are the detail mentioned by him regarding his fascinating coin. 

The L’île d’Héliopolis coins are also based on my poetry. For years, I have been mesmerized by solar imagery and symbolism. It is a theme to which I return every now and again, and it never seems to lose its vitality and freshness. For each of these coins, I have taken fragments from some of those poems, and pieced them together like a collage.
The inaugural 2004 5 Çoles: Like many of the municipal notgeld coins I admire, this Cinco Çoles (Five Suns) coin was apparently issued not only by the Isle of Heliopolis, but more specifically, by another body within its insular boundaries: the alliterative Ligue des Fils et Filles du Soleil (League of the Sun's Sons and Daughters). The monetary unit is the Çol (Çoles being the plural), which is phonetically identical to the Peruvian Sol/Soles. The radiant symbol on the obverse is that of Shamash and his all-seeing light; this disc represented the Mesopotamian (Sumerian/Akkadian/Babylonian/Assyrian) solar deity approximately 3,000 years ago, though the actual sun-god is substantially more ancient. On the reverse, there is the legend Sonnenmünze der Sonnenkinder. This inscription hopes to affirm the special function of this piece as the “Sun-Coin of the Sun-Children”, one of which is borne by each of the depicted youths.

 

The coin is dated 2004, is 39mm in diameter, and 3mm thick. It was minted by the Northwest Territorial Mint, 50 pieces in copper and 5 pieces in silver. These coins are encapsulated.
 
Erik V. McCrea has decided to go further with a new design of L’île d’Héliopolis as 2006 3 Çoles Isleños: Essentially, the soulful gist of this coin is wholly in lockstep with the heliocentric leitmotif of its forerunner. Though an isleño may be a native/inhabitant of an island, the word can also be defined as: of, relating to, pertaining to, or befitting an isle. The obverse of this piece is emblazoned with an insignia whose perfectly balanced decorativeness is filled with symbolic significance. It is an age-old representation of the sun, inherent to the Zia/Tsia Pueblo, and which adorns the flag of New Mexico. According to their spiritual lore, riches were bestowed upon them by the “Giver of All Good Gifts” in orderly groups of four. This hallowed number is divinely embodied in the main directions of the earth, the seasons of the year, the segments of the day (sunrise/morning/dawn, noon/daylight, sunset/evening/dusk, night/darkness) and the stages/divisions of life itself (childhood/infancy, youth, adulthood, old age). All of these blessed bequests correspond to 16 linear rays which radiate from the center of a circle. These elements are everlastingly bound together at their bases by the orb, which epitomizes existence and love, both of which are without beginning or ending. Moreover, the tribe believes that in this great fellowship/alliance of all things, each person bears 4 sacred responsibilities/obligations: to develop a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the welfare of one's family/people. On the reverse of the coin, assisting its attainment of a full-fledged thematic denouement, are three Sun parakeets (Aratinga solstitialis in the taxonomy of Linnaeus; and in Portuguese, because this bird is indigenous to Brasil, Jandaia-sol). It is pleasant to imagine them as zoomorphic aspects, earthly manifestations of the omniscient sun, who frequents our world by adopting a sprightly animal form; who dons this lively guise and becomes inconspicuous by blending in with the tropical background; who, no longer hindered by the astounding distance of space, uses a feathery façade to gain sound, experiential insights while in our midst.
 

The coin is dated 2006, is 36mm in diameter, and 3mm thick. It was minted by Pressed Metal Products, in a run of 54 copper and 11 silver (plus 2 pre-production samples: one in copper-nickel and one in brass).
 
It seems so natural that the birds and the branch are coated with Silver as someone having magic has turned them to Silver. When I asked Erik about his Héliopolis silver coin, on how deeply focused, amazingly and beautifully it is created, he replied, "I am humbled! I too, think the mint did a great job with the coin, which was a relief for me. The first engraver they assigned to the job was not doing a very good job with the birds. Maybe he was an intern or a trainee, but his birds did not look very natural. The texture of their feathers looked like wicker baskets, not feathers. But then they assigned the task to another engraver, who did a magnificent job." I myself appreciated Pressed Metal Products for making an excellent piece of art.
 

 
Erik V. McCrea has decided to go further with a new design, this time using glass, according to him: The Medio Çol was crafted by Mr. David Alan (http://www.glassbyda.com/). After receiving my designs, Mr. Alan sent me an e-mail: “Looking over what you're asking me to do…it is not an easy piece to do! I did not fully understand the scope until this week. I will admit that it will be a VERY UNIQUE Piece and I believe I can pull it off.” He predicted that they would be “a pain to do” because “Each piece is hand done, there is no machine to do the job.” Nevertheless, he was confident they would ultimately look beautiful. As it turns out, Mr. Alan was absolutely correct in this prediction. Right after he “blasted the first Sample”, he remarked: “It is Awesome…without a doubt…The degree of difficulty is also beyond belief. But it will be worth it.” When I finally saw the first three “Sample Proofs”, I immediately realized that the results were going to be clearly (no pun intended) amazing. Mr. Alan’s craftsmanship was stunning. That was crystal clear. I must admit, however, that I was initially taken aback: the pieces did not match what I had envisioned and they did not adhere to the basic simplicity of my concept. They were experimental in nature and they differed markedly from how I designed the coin. Mr. Alan had interpreted my drawings in ways I simply could not have foreseen. He sandblasted the three samples so that they could be viewed from one side only. In other words, he made them so that all the text could be read by simply looking at the obverse. Therefore, there would be no need to “flip” the coin in order to view the reverse (all the text on that side would be backwards). There would be no reason to gaze at the “back” of the coin (except to admire the frosting technique up-close, out of curiosity), just like there is almost no aesthetic purpose to look at the back of a painting or the back of a decorative tile. All the “important” information on the coin (country name, denomination, year of issue) would be legible solely from the “front” side (the primary side), making the unreadable “back” side of the coin completely irrelevant. This defies the one of the purposes of a “coin”, which is supposed to have two “useful” sides, two functional sides. Typically, BOTH sides of a coin convey crucial information. Both sides are of equal importance. Therefore, I attempted to emulate this in my design so that the viewer would have to flip from one side to the other in order to “experience” the whole coin. The way I designed the coin, the phrase “L'île d'Héliopolis” is supposed to be legible left-to-right on the obverse (it appears backwards when the coin is flipped), and the phrase “Medio Çol” is supposed to be legible left-to-right on the reverse (it also appears backwards when viewed from the opposite side). This way, the coin absolutely has to be seen from the front AND from the back. Both sides are vital. Both sides contain pertinent/useful information. Both sides of the coin are integral to the whole.
Mr. Alan produced a total of 25 glass medallions (plus 5 pre-production samples). Each one is 49mm in diameter, and 6mm thick.
 
I got all these coins directly from Erik V. McCrea. You can also email him at evm111@hotmail.com or visit his website at: http://erikmccrea.tripod.com/heliopolis.html  for more information.
 

 
In closing, I (Erik V. McCrea) felt that it would be fitting to herein include my unabridged compilation of epigraphs. I have garnered these beautiful literary quotes over the years, and I intend to include them in a published anthology of all my sun-themed poetry. Enjoy!

     If the eye were not sun-like,
     how could we perceive the light?
Goethe

     I am Azatiwatas,
     the person blessed by the Sun-god,
     the servant of Tarhunt.
     Send me kudos and
     fortify my heart.
Luwian hieroglyphic text, Karatepe, Turkey

     Shadows are long and dark before me.
     I shall soon lie down to rise no more.
     While my spirit is with my body
     the smoke of my breath shall be towards the Sun,
     for he knows all things and knows that I am still true to him.
    
From Red Cloud's abdication speech, July 4, 1903

     Opposite me laughs the city newly made:
     Sun! Sun!
Avram Schlonsky

     Humor is an out-of-doors virtue.
     It requires ozone and the light of the sun.
Lilian Bell

     The world sighs not; she sounds a song
     on strings of sunbeams.
Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beethovens Tod”

     Sun of being, Prince and Master!
     Our works are scattered,
     our tasks without honor
     and our grain without harvest.
Saint-John Perse, “Nocturne”

     The earth is mostly just a boneyard.
     But pretty in the sunlight.
Larry McMurtry

     O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
     to break earth's sleep at all?
Wilfred Owen

     The sun itself is but the dark simulacrum,
     and light but the shadow of God.
Sir Thomas Browne

     Praise to thee, my Lord, for all thy creatures,
     Above all, Brother Sun,
     Who brings us the day and lends us his light.
St. Francis of Assisi

     The cheeks of our Saxon maidens
     have seen too little of the sun to enable them
     to bear the fixed glance of a crusader.
Sir Walter Scott, “Ivanhoe”

     the rounded
     Breasts of the milky bay, palms, flocks, the green and dead
     Leaves, the sun's brass coin on my cheek...
Derek Walcott

     Everyone knows that in dreams one never sees the sun,
     even though one often has the perception
     of a much more vivid brightness.
Gerard de Nerval, “Aurelia”

     The sun never repents of the good he does,
     nor does he ever demand a recompense.
Benjamin Franklin

     How I shall freeze after all this sun!
     Here I am a gentleman,
     at home a parasite.
Albrecht Durer

     The sun is the blanket of the poor. Mexican saying

     There is nothing so destructive for spoken words
     as a sun that keeps on burning.
Clarice Lispector, “The Apple in the Dark”

     The sun never sets without fresh news. Xhosa proverb

     Goodness comes out of people who bask in the sun.
    
Charles Dudley Warner

     The sun-dial counts only the bright hours. German proverb

     During summer days I suffer from continued hunger,
     Through wintry nights I sleep without bedcovers.
     When evening comes, I long impatiently for the cockcrow,
     At dawn I wish the sun would hurry off to the west.
T'ao Ch'ien

     I fall back dazzled at beholding myself all rosy red,
     At having, I myself, caused the sun to rise.
    
Edmond Rostand, “Chanticleer”

     He was like a cock who thought the sun
     had risen to hear him crow.
George Eliot, “Adam Bede”

     He had been born to the sun.
     One he was in ten thousand
     in the matter of sun-resistance.
Jack London, “A Son of the Sun”

     I have a horror of sunsets,
     they're so romantic, so operatic.
Marcel Proust

     The Sun is a mass of fiery stone,
     a little larger than Greece.
Anaxagoras

     This was my country and it may yet be,
     but something flew between me and the sun.
Edmund Blunden

     Men shut their doors against a setting sun. Timon of Athens

     Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow. Thomas Campion

     Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me,
     if I could not now and always send sunrise out of me.
Walt Whitman

     And if we don't want our glory to be,
     as the fateful expression goes, “le soleil des morts”-
     then we must forever close our eyes
     to the sun of ordinary life.
Camille Mauclair

     Whatever may be in my mind,
     I don't want it to block my readers' sunshine.
Rabindranath Tagore

     And when you conceal me
     in your serene arms
     I'll surrender myself;
     but your brown eyes
     frighten me more
     than a ray of sunlight.
Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Ligia”

     Joy is a light which devours itself, inexhaustibly;
     it is the sun early on.
E. M. Cioran

     When the sun comes out,
     he says to himself scornfully,
     we'll soon have the sun too on our leash.
Elias Canetti

     Even the smallest of creatures
     carries a sun in its eyes.
Antonio Porchia

     Two bad cheers for the small sun. Thomas Merton

     Some folks is born wid they feet on de sun
     and they kin seek out de inside meanin' of words.
    
Zora Neale Hurston, “Mules and Men”

     The sun, which passeth through pollutions
     and itself remains as pure as before.
Francis Bacon

     Thus the dream was transformed into a nightmare.
     A miracle was needed for the sun to shine anew.
Naguib Mahfouz

     But nothing we can ever do is diametric to the sun. John Hay

     It is good enough just to sit still
     and hold your palm out to the sunlight, like a leaf,
     and turn it over slowly, wondering: What is light?
     What is flesh? What is it to be alive?
Donald Culross Peattie

     We are pieces of the sun,
     that is why we are luminous beings.
Carlos Castaneda

     We really know our worth,
     the sun and I!
William S. Gilbert, “The Mikado” libretto

     Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot;
     others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Pablo Picasso

     He has an experience in which it appears to him
     that there is a sunset,
     but this experience is not a seeing of anything.
Colin McGinn

     But every sun sets,
     and navels wither away.
Jose Saramago

     If not to the sun,
     then to nothing and to no one.
Linda Gregg

     As on the day that brought thee to this earth
     The sun stood in conjunction with the stars,
     So art thou fashioned by the heavenly laws
     That mark thy ways and walk with thee from birth.
Goethe

 
 
 
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