Australian Sea Life Silver Bullion Coins
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The allure of coloured bullion coinage has risen over the past few years since its initial introduction by a number of mints sometime during the late 1990s. Although not quite as popular then as it is now, coloured coinage began to change how collectors’ coins were viewed, reinstating their older status of objets d’art instead of mere investment material. The Perth Mint of Australia is one of the most renowned mints that feature this distinct kind of aesthetic. Its penchant for featuring one-of-a-kind wildlife in its bullion coins allows for the perfect medium of advertisement to educate people about the wonders of their country.
Among one of the favourites in the animal-series of coinages created by the mint are the Australian Sea Life coins that is now in its second year of release. Made of 99.9% fine pure silver and weighing only ½ ounces (unlike the usual one-ounce silver bullion coins), these tiny goodies pack a very wonderful artistic punch that all but makes up for its lack of heft. As the name suggests, it showcases some of the unique animals found in Australia’s coral reefs, and for that, it actually bears a second series name – ‘The Reef’. Just like the ‘Deadly and Dangerous’ series before it, the Reef series of coins features highly detailed full-colour representations of animals found in the waters of Australia, and features its own unique fonts that are solely dedicated to the series. Some of the more perceptive collectors (or the more young-at-heart) may assume that the series was inspired by the Disney-Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, as a number of coins do in fact depict animals featured in the movie.
As with all Australian bullion coins, the silver Reef series the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with all the standard legends and coin-details inscribed on the obverse in order to leave the reverse as the sole canvas of the coin’s featured animal. As typical of the Perth Mint’s creations, the reverse of the Reef series of silver bullion coins change with every yearly release, although its weight and face value (50 cents), as well as its general aesthetic touches remained constant.
First introduced in 2011 with the release of the Hawksbill turtle (think the surfer-dude turtle from Finding Nemo), it depicted said animal with a stylized background of gracefully curving lines representing water currents. It depicted the turtle in meticulously executed colour, with details exact down to its skin. It also bore the name of the series in its own unique font, as well as the animal name and the mint’s mark inscribed on the reverse.
The second 2011 release featured a starfish (a little hint of Spongebob perhaps?) with the same stylized background as the turtle’s. Depicted in full-colour with attention to the nuances of the starfish’s natural colourations, it also flaunted the series’ name in its unique font, as well as the animal’s name and the mintmark.
The first of 2012’s The Reef release featured the now very well-known Surgeonfish (the common public might recongnise the fish better if it were referred to as ‘Dory’ or if they were reminded of the iconic address ‘P Sherman 42 – Wallaby Way, Sydney’; oh the irony!). Depicted once again in full-colour, it bears the similarly stylized background and standard fonts and inscriptions of the series.
The next coin in the 2012 series featured a less ‘friendly’ type of aquatic creature – the Reef Octopus. Here depicted ‘in action’, with the usual attention to nuances in detail, it also featured the standardised background and fonts of the series.
The last of the 2012 series features yet another ‘creepy’ (in appearance only) creature – the Manta Ray (yes, it’s the ‘school bus fish from Finding Nemo!). Depicted in full-colour akin to all the rest, it displays excellent detail with regards to the slight gradations of colour on its back and underside. Featuring the similarly stylized background, fonts, and details of all the rest, the Manta Ray completes the Australian Sea Life: The Reef series of silver bullion coins.
Owing to the relatively ‘small’ denomination, the Reef series of coins serves more of a numismatist’s attraction than an investor’s dream – although, being made of pure silver and possessing unique aesthetics that will eventually allow its value to appreciate in time (given that it only comes in a limited number of mintages) some investors may also prize these coins. Because of the wonderful designs (and the fact that any kid looking at it can immediately identify it as animals from a certain movie) they also make for the perfect gifts for beginning numismatic enthusiasts!
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