Australian Indigenous Culture Silver Coins

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Australia’s indigenous culture is one that is rich in magic and myth. Despite the harsh and often unforgiving environment that the Australian Aborigines found themselves in, they nevertheless managed to fashion a highly introspective mythology and unique forms of music and art that have become an intrinsic part of Australia’s early culture. To commemorate the aborigines of Australia, the Perth Mint has created a series of uniquely shaped silver bullion coins they depict the one-of-a-kind animals that featured strongly in aboriginal spiritualism and mythology. Part of a larger series collectively known as ‘The Dreaming’ in commemoration of the aboriginal belief in ‘The Dreamtime’, it depicts the animals using traditional aboriginal aesthetics especially designed by a descendant of two aboriginal tribes – the Perth Mint’s own Darryl Bellotti. Each coin weighs one troy ounce and is made from 99.9% fine pure silver.

The Indigenous Cultures part of the ‘Dreaming’ series was first introduced in 2008, with the creation and mintage of a unique rectangular-shaped coin depicting a turtle amid a background of dots and circles representing hunter’s trails. The unique aboriginal design is minted in ultra-high relief, and is set against a Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) background that is slightly aged for effect.[1] The obverse shows a high-relief portrait bust of Queen Elizabeth II, along with the legends ELIZABETH II AUSTRALIA, as well as its date of mintage, face value (A$1 throughout the whole of the series) and silver weight and purity.

The 2010 release saw a change in the aesthetics, and moved on from creating BU coins to proof quality ones, nevertheless retaining the unique aboriginal-styled depiction of the featured animals. The 2010 coin depicts a dolphin surrounded by stylized curves and circles symbolizing splashes of water disturbed by the dolphin’s descent, along with the Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark denoting its proof status.[2] Minted in high-relief on both sides, the obverse carries the standard royal portrait, with the same legends as the previous release.

In 2011, another coin was released, which may, or might not be the last of the Indigenous Cultures series of coins. Depicting a platypus in Bellotti’s distinct aboriginal-inspired style, it is surrounded by waves symbolizing the platypus’ wading in water, along with a subtle inclusion of the mintmark.[3] Minted in high-relief and slightly frosted to allow the designs to stand out against the mirror-finish, it too bears the standard portrait of the queen on the obverse, along with the legends and inscriptions found on the two previous mintages.

Bellotti’s simple yet engaging depiction of Australia’s unique wildlife, as well as the unusual shape of the coin itself has made it a very popular coin among numismatists as well as investors, owing not only to its uniqueness, but also to its limited mintages. Each of these coins come with an illustrated presentation package, and, unlike other bullion coins issued by the Perth Mint, it does not come with a hard protective acrylic round. Due to its unusual shape, the Indigenous Cultures coins of the Dreaming series can easily be mounted on bezels and made into pendants or otherwise worn as amulets. Because of their value, they also make for the perfect gift for loved-ones who wish to begin investing in bullion, or that desire to initiate a coin collection.

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