Australian Kookaburra Silver Coin

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The kookaburra is a bird which is native to Australia and is considerably one of the most iconic of its endemic avian species. In celebrating the vast diversity of Australia’s wildlife, the Perth Mint of Australia decided to create a number of coins which flaunted its unique wildlife – specifically animals that have become synonymous with the country itself (i. e. the kangaroo, the koala, and of course, the kookaburra). Among those animals, the kookaburra became a subject of several types of coins created by the Perth Mint as singular specimens or as a part of larger sets, being an Australian animal renowned throughout the world for its eerie and unsettling laughing cry. The Australian Silver Kookaburra coins are therefore comprised of a number of different coins that feature the image of the bird.

One of the stand-alone examples of the Silver Kookaburra coins is the one ounce high-relief silver coin minted only recently. Made from 99.9% fine pure silver, the one-ounce coin features a depiction of the bird in ultra-high relief, allowing for maximum detail and depth of impression which adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the coin. Because of its unique high-quality relief, this version of the Silver Kookaburra is made from a slightly deeper blank. Made in proof-quality, the highly detailed design is offset by the gorgeously fine mirror finish of the coin. This special one-ounce coin is limited only to a specific number, and has already become a favourite among silver bullion investors and numismatists.[1] As with all of Australian coinage, its obverse design bears the image of Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by the legends ELIZABTH II AUSTRALIA, as well as its face value of A$1. The reverse design flaunts the high-relief image of the kookaburra perched atop a gum tree, with the indicative legend ‘AUSTRALIAN KOOKABURRA’ surmounting it, along with the date of mintage, the weight, and the silver fineness inscribed below the branch. An obscure mintmark of the Perth Mint can be found incorporated into the reverse design as an indicator of its authenticity as a proof quality coin.

Another type of Silver Kookaburra bullion belongs to an early set of coins collectively called the ‘Discover Australia – The Dreaming’ coins minted in 2011. Similar in weight and silver purity to the high-relief kookaburra, The Dreaming version features an abstract representation of the bird made by the Perth Mint’s indigenous artist Darryl Bellotti.[2] This uniquely executed interpretation of the bird is further enhanced by the inclusion of selective metal colouring, of rich and vibrant hues of blue indicative of its aerial habitat. The coin bears the legends ‘DISCOVER AUSTRALIA’ along with the date of mintage, animal name, coin weight and the measure of fineness. As with the high-relief Silver Kookaburra, the Dreaming version also has a tiny ‘P’ incorporated into the design.

The Silver Kookaburra ‘Discover’ series did not end with the ‘Dreaming’ version, but was later revamped for the current mintage (2012), which now featured the kookaburra set in silver amid a richly detailed background of its natural habitat. Depicting the kookaburra in silver perched atop a branch in high-relief detail it is offset by the meticulously coloured background of marshlands at the break of dawn or near the coming of dusk.[3] Weighing still one ounce and made of a similar silver purity as all the others, it bore the legend ‘DISCOVER AUSTRALIA’ along with the animal name, coin weight, and silver purity albeit in a different font and arrangement from the ‘Dreaming’ series. The ‘P’ mintmark is also evident in this example.

Continuing the vein of coloured coinage, a fourth type of Silver Kookaburra depicted a meticulously detailed portrayal of the kookaburra in full-colour set against the background of a proof mirror-finish. Minted in 2012, this highly detailed full-color depiction of the bird is part of a three-coin series called the ‘Australian Outback’ series, which would feature full color depictions of three animals (with the other two being the kangaroo and the koala) and their natural habitats.[4] Unlike the other three Silver Kookaburras, the Australian Outback version only weighed ½ oz, with a face value of 50 cents. The reverse full-color depiction of the bird also included the legend ‘AUSTRALIAN KOOKABURRA’ along with the date of mintage, coin weight, and silver fineness. A less-obvious mintmark has also been incorporated into the design.

The most stunning if somewhat uncanny version of the Silver Kookaburra is part of yet another series of coins known as the ‘Map Series’. Literally a coin made into the shape of the continent of Australia (a numismatic feat never before seen!) it depicted the kookaburra in silver, offset against a richly detailed background of one of the bird’s varying habitats.[5] Despite the change in the shape of the coinage, the standard legends for the obverse and reverse sides of the one-of-a-kind coin, as well as the 1 ounce weight was maintained.

With the sheer variety of the Silver Kookaburra coins, collecting these limited examples of numismatic artistry is doubly rewarding in that they make for fine gifts or showpieces while doubling as excellent investment material… although with their sheer artistry and exacting attention to detail, they’re almost too wonderful to simply be sold off for cash.

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