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
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
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.
produced a total of 25 glass medallions (plus 5 pre-production samples).
Each one is 49mm in diameter, and 6mm thick.
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!
the eye were not sun-like,
how could we perceive the light?
the person blessed by the Sun-god,
the servant of Tarhunt.
Send me kudos and
fortify my heart.
Luwian hieroglyphic text, Karatepe, Turkey
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
for he knows all things and knows that I am
still true to him.
From Red Cloud's abdication
speech, July 4, 1903
me laughs the city newly made:
Sun! Sun! Avram
is an out-of-doors virtue.
It requires ozone and the light of the sun.
world sighs not; she sounds a song
on strings of sunbeams.
Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beethovens Tod”
of being, Prince and Master!
Our works are scattered,
our tasks without honor
and our grain without harvest.
Saint-John Perse, “Nocturne”
earth is mostly just a boneyard.
But pretty in the sunlight.
what made fatuous sunbeams toil
to break earth's sleep at all?
sun itself is but the dark simulacrum,
and light but the shadow of God.
Sir Thomas Browne
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
cheeks of our Saxon maidens
have seen too little of the sun to enable
to bear the fixed glance of a crusader.
Sir Walter Scott, “Ivanhoe”
Breasts of the milky bay, palms, flocks, the
green and dead
Leaves, the sun's brass coin on my cheek...
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”
sun never repents of the good he does,
nor does he ever demand a recompense.
I shall freeze after all this sun!
Here I am a gentleman,
at home a parasite.
sun is the blanket of the poor. Mexican saying
is nothing so destructive for spoken words
as a sun that keeps on burning.
Clarice Lispector, “The Apple in the Dark”
sun never sets without fresh news. Xhosa proverb
comes out of people who bask in the sun.
Charles Dudley Warner
sun-dial counts only the bright hours. German
summer days I suffer from continued hunger,
Through wintry nights I sleep without
When evening comes, I long impatiently for
At dawn I wish the sun would hurry off to
the west. T'ao Ch'ien
fall back dazzled at beholding myself all rosy red,
At having, I myself, caused the sun to rise.
was like a cock who thought the sun
had risen to hear him crow.
George Eliot, “Adam Bede”
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”
have a horror of sunsets,
they're so romantic, so operatic.
Sun is a mass of fiery stone,
a little larger than Greece.
was my country and it may yet be,
but something flew between me and the sun.
shut their doors against a setting sun. Timon of
thy fair sun, unhappy shadow. Thomas Campion
and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me,
if I could not now and always send sunrise
out of me. Walt Whitman
if we don't want our glory to be,
as the fateful expression goes, “le soleil
then we must forever close our eyes
to the sun of ordinary life.
may be in my mind,
I don't want it to block my readers'
sunshine. Rabindranath Tagore
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”
is a light which devours itself, inexhaustibly;
it is the sun early on.
E. M. Cioran
the sun comes out,
he says to himself scornfully,
we'll soon have the sun too on our leash.
the smallest of creatures
carries a sun in its eyes.
bad cheers for the small sun. Thomas Merton
folks is born wid they feet on de sun
and they kin seek out de inside meanin' of
Zora Neale Hurston,
“Mules and Men”
sun, which passeth through pollutions
and itself remains as pure as before.
the dream was transformed into a nightmare.
A miracle was needed for the sun to shine
anew. Naguib Mahfouz
nothing we can ever do is diametric to the sun. John
is good enough just to sit still
and hold your palm out to the sunlight, like
and turn it over slowly, wondering: What is
What is flesh? What is it to be alive?
Donald Culross Peattie
are pieces of the sun,
that is why we are luminous beings.
really know our worth,
the sun and I! William
S. Gilbert, “The Mikado” libretto
painters transform the sun into a yellow spot;
others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
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
every sun sets,
and navels wither away.
not to the sun,
then to nothing and to no one.
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