The hunt began in Western Europe when Mr Paul Régis Hauser, a French writer and puzzle designer, signed under the pseudonym Max Valentin, hid a golden sculpture of an owl, a symbol of intelligence and wisdom, and wrote a book called ‘Sur la trace de la Chouette d’Or’ (‘On The Trail Of The Golden Owl’). In the book, P. R. Hauser left eleven puzzles and riddles that had to be solved in a certain sequence in order to reveal the place where the treasure was hidden. Symbolically, one has to use the very same qualities that owls possess to crack the riddles.
In Hauser’s book, each riddle is labelled with a certain number and a colour – these elements are related to the wavelengths of the visible light spectrum and colour theory. In addition, the clue-filled paintings by the artist, Mr Michel Becker, who is also the sculptor of the legendary golden owl figurine, are an important part of the puzzles and provide additional insights.
The collectible silver coin, ‘Golden Owl’, created by the Lithuanian Mint’s artist, Mr Vilius Krasnickas, depicts a hint for the first riddle, Enigma B. Those who find the answer will know the order in which the rest of the puzzles have to be solved. Unfortunately, the hunt that has captivated puzzle-solving enthusiasts all around the globe is still unsuccessful – no one has been able to solve the riddles hiding the location of the golden owl figurine in the correct order for the past 30 years.
The reverse of the high-relief collectible coin is partially gilded: a golden owl, which, as if having caused a hurricane behind it, flies towards you, leaving a rainbow with its mighty wing flap. The ornate frame surrounding the owl is engraved with mysterious numbers – though some of the spaces are blank to arouse your curiosity. The obverse features a public seal of Niue in the centre. Below, two katoua cleaving clubs – the symbol of Niue – are crossed, and the island’s motto, ‘atua Niue tukulagi’, is written above them.