Australian Gold Nugget Coins

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The Australian Gold Nugget is a modern bullion coin expressly created by the Perth Mint of Australia that is becoming quite a popular choice of investment for many bullion investors and numismatic collectors owing to several unique and artistically pleasing traits that differentiate it from what would otherwise be commonplace, plain-gold bullion coins. Among many modern gold bullion coins, the Australian Gold Nugget stands out as the most creative and artistic of the lot, next to the gold coins of Austria and China. In terms of sheer artistry, the Australian Gold Nugget is rivaled only by Austrian bullion, but for sheer variety, size, and purity, it is a league all its own.

Originally named the ‘Gold Nugget’ due to the its somewhat uncanny reverse design depicting a chunk or nugget of gold surrounded by what can be interpreted as radiating rays, it later came to be called the ‘Gold Kangaroo’ after a revamp of the design was opted for by the company that originally issued its first mintage in 1986. Since the revamp of the somewhat queer design (perhaps a move towards creating a more ‘nationalistically symbolic’ gold coin, in a similar vein to the Maple Leafs of Canada and the Eagles of America, the Australian Gold Nugget later incorporated the design of a red kangaroo. After the initial change in 1989 where the kangaroo replaced the slightly uncanny design of gold nuggets, all subsequent mints thereafter varied from all the others in much the same way as Chinese Gold Panda designs would be changed yearly. Because of this variety, the Australian Gold Nugget, or ‘Gold Kangaroo’ as it is now more commonly referred to (initially used to replace the moniker of ‘Nugget’ since 2008), is of extreme value to numismatic collectors owing to the sheer diversity of its designs, displaying a wide variety of different kangaroo species and subspecies and becoming the de facto ‘national coin’ of Australia.[1]

Officiated by the government of Australia and recognized as legal tender, the Gold Nugget is composed of 99.99% pure gold. While for its purity alone, the Gold Nugget is undoubtedly valuable, the limited minting run of each yearly issue effectively raises its numismatic value as time goes by, and with different minting quantities per year, some coins are far more valuable (owing to their rarity) than others, regardless of the current value of its gold content. Another unique feature that has made the Gold Nugget a favoured coin for both investors and more so collectors is its unique ‘two-tone’ design – really an artistically wrought balance of light and dark gold that allows the image struck on the coin to literally stand out. Of the many modern bullion coins in the market today, the Gold Nugget’s design is undeniably the most crisp and clean, opting for clear, eye-catching imagery in lieu of ornate tooling. Unlike other gold bullion which can be bought as it, the Gold Nugget also featured a unique ‘capsule’, literally a clear, durable plastic round that houses each coin and prevents it from becoming scratched or otherwise damaged by handling or transport.[2] This move towards a wholly original encapsulated coin created a unique market niche that invited collectors by catering to their exacting needs for quality and perfection.

While the reverse design of the Australian Gold Nugget is changed yearly, the obverse design remains a constant since its inception. Depicting the profile of Queen Elizabeth II, the design by Ian Rank-Broadley is another depiction of the Queen akin to her profile on Canadian Gold Maple coins. The obverse side of the coin carries the legend ‘ELIZABETH II AUSTRALIA’ and its face value, along with the word ‘DOLLARS’, while the ever-changing reverse may or may not feature the legend ‘THE AUSTRALIAN NUGGET’ along with its denomination, gold purity, and the date of mintage. Sometimes, other legends are opted for in lieu of the default reverse legends, with some coins only bearing the phrase ‘AUSTRALIAN KANGAROO’ sans any other distinguishing remarks (as in the up-coming 2013 mintage).[3]

Aside from the variety of its design, the Australian Gold Nugget is also known for its wide availability of sizes, with denominations available in 1/20 oz, 1/10 oz, ¼ oz, ½ oz, 1 oz, 2 oz, 10 oz, and 1 kilo ($5, $15, $25, $50, $100, $500 / $200 [as of 1992 onwards], $2, 500 / $1, 000 [as of 1992 onwards], $10, 000 / $3, 000 [as of 1992 onwards], respectively).[4] Because each of these denominations possess a face value and are recognized as legal tender, they may be used to purchase or pay for any transactions within Australia as current, with a purchasing power equivalent to their face value regardless of their true worth in gold. When bought or sold however, they are equivalent to however much the current price of gold by weight is at, and is treated then as bullion.

The choice of making really large coins came from the fact that the larger the coin they had, the lower the premiums (an idea taken from the economics of scale). Furthermore, with some bullion investors’ interests in kilo-bars and with Canada’s introduction of the 1 kilo Gold Maple Leaf coin, and the 10-kilo Spirit of Haida Gwaii[5] coin, the Perth Mint desired to capitalize on a growing market niche, developing their own large kilo-coins for interested collectors and investors.

In October of 2011, the Perth Mint even designed and successfully minted a record-breaking one-tonne gold coin. The 1 tonne Gold Kangaroo is the largest and most valuable gold coin ever minted at present, and the largest coin ever minted by Perth Mint so far. Measuring approximately 800 mm in diameter and 120 mm in thickness, the 35, 700 oz (1, 012 kilograms) pure 99.99999% pure gold coin cost an approximated $53 million (in Australian Dollars) to create. Featuring the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and the image of the red kangaroo on the obverse, it is the largest Gold Nugget / Gold Kangaroo coin to date, with a face value of A$1, 000, 000.[6]

The Australian Gold Nugget’s flare of creativity, finesse, and the shocking and impossible have made their line of gold bullion coins some of the most sought after in this current age, as well as the ages to come.

Australian Gold Nugget - References:


Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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