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€14.00   (Taxes not incl.)

56  In Stock

The F.N.M.T. - R.C.M. presents a new series of coins dedicated to recall the "History of Navigation". These series reproduce a selection of boats that, for one reason or another, have been relevant over time. It consists of twenty coins. Four of them are put into circulation in 2018 and the remaining 16 in 2019.To collect them, you can purchase the book "History of Navigation" (art. 92887050), which describes the technical characteristics of each of the boats.

Special launching offer! With the purchase of the first four coins (Phoenician Combat Ship, Drakkar Scandinavo, Spanish Navy and Juan Sebastian de Elcano School Ship), we will send you the collection book-case free of charge (art. 32887050).

On the obverse, in the central area, a detail of the work entitled "Roman ships. Birreme of war. Barco de Comercio ", made by Rafael Monleón y Torres, which is kept in the Naval Museum of Madrid. In the upper left, the legend BIRREME DE GUERRA ROMANA. In the lower part, the legend ESPAÑA and the year of minting 2019.

On the reverse (common to all the pieces), the face value of the coin 1.5 EURO and the inscription HISTORY OF THE NAVIGATION appear. Out of the central circle there are six dolphins jumping, counter clockwise, on the same aquatic motifs that appear in the obverses.

Information about the Coin
Series History of Navigation  
Year 2019  
Colour Yes  
Diameter (mm) 33  
Face Value (Euro) 1.5
Metal Cupronickel  
Weight (g) 15  
Maximum Mintage (units) 10,000  


Period: From the first century BC to the fifteenth century AD.
Length: Between 24.4 m and 25 m Beam: Between 5 and 5.5 m.
Propulsion: Oars and sails combined.
Weaponry: Catapults and the crew’s hand-held weapons.

Description: Like the trireme, the quadrireme and the quinquireme, the bireme evolved from the galley, converted into a warship by the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses III and the Phoenicians around the year 800 BC. So as to equip the craft for use in warfare, the hull was lengthened and the oarsmen were arranged on two levels, with 12 per side per level, making a total of 48, thus earning the vessel the name of bireme.

The vessel was also powered by sails, with a square-rigged sail in the centre. Built of timber from wood of the fir, cypress and larch, the bireme was the first vessel to have a ram on the bow. In the early days, it was made of wood and later of metal or lined with bronze. The craft also featured a gangway or central passageway where the archers and combatants would sit, protected by bulwarks placed on either side.

The result was a swift, agile vessel to be used in the defence of the coastline. Endowed with a powerful thrust, it acquired great importance in the times of the Roman Empire.

Armed as might be expected of a warship, the bireme possessed a number of significant novel features. In addition to adopting what was known as Greek fire, incendiary devices such as fire arrows and vessels, they used catapults to launch burning projectiles, sometimes of such power and magnitude that they had to be mounted on two vessels. Of special note was the harpax, consisting of a catapult located on the deck, with the capacity to throw a hook over long distances and attach it to the enemy ship to bring it alongside. Another major novel feature was the corvus (lit., raven). Built from wood, it was a manner of vertical drawbridge with a width of just over one metre and a length of up to 10 m or more. There was a heavy spike shaped like a bird’s beak on the underside of the device, which was designed to pierce and anchor into the enemy ship and bring it alongside. The revolving underside meant that that the spike could be thrown in any direction. The great advantage of this device was that the enemy vessel could be seized without being sunk (Battle of Milas, Sicily, in the year 260 BC).

Key events: Particularly noteworthy in the history of the bireme are the successes of Octavius: the Battle of Naulochus (36 BC, defeating Sextus Pompeius); the Battle of de Actium (31 BC, overcoming the combined fleets of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra). The bireme continued to be used for many years, down to the assault and conquest of Byzantium by the Turks in 1453, when there were about 10 vessels of this type in the Ottoman fleet.