Australian Deadly and Dangerous Animals Silver Coins

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While most nations would be afraid to flaunt the fact that they housed some of the most deadly animals in the world, Australia seems to be proud of the fact that among its unique and decidedly strange wildlife lurks some of the most dangerous and lethal of animals. To commemorate this unique fact, the Perth Mint of Australia recently released a series of gold coins that depicted a select number of well-known and not-so-well-known deadly animals native to Australia. Part of a seven-coin set referred to aptly as the ‘Deadly and Dangerous’, it was initially released in 2006 as a stand-alone, with one ‘Deadly and Dangerous’ coin. The concept proved so popular among numismatists and investors owing to its incorporation of extremely detailed depictions of the deadly animals offset against a slightly pop-culturish background complete with unique legend fonts, that the Perth Mint decided to follow up with another coin the next year, and another the year after, and so on until the present day.

Maintaining a constant weight of one ounce throughout the whole of the series run, with an unchanging face value of A$1, the Deadly and Dangerous series also featured the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, alongside the legends ‘ELIZABETH II TUVALU’ and an indication of the coin’s face value, a feature which also remained a constant throughout six of seven distinct coins of the series, with the exception of the first coin which exhibited the information on the silver content and weight on the obverse, instead of the reverse. The reverse designs were the dynamic ones, being revamped with every new year to feature a unique deadly animal distinct from the previous year’s ‘star’.

The series kicked off in 2006, when the first coin of the series (initially a stand-alone coin which soon inspired the Mint to create more types) featured the poisonous Red-Back Spider of Australia. The production of the coin commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the spider’s discovery, it depicted a large and realistically coloured red-back spider surrounded by little spiders in what appears to be their nest. The rich black colouration is contrasted strongly by blood-red pools of colour that are dispersed throughout the reverse side, the whole of which is set off nicely by the proof-quality mirror finish.[1] The reverse had the inscription of the animal’s name, as well as its face value.

The second animal of the series, minted in 2007, featured one of the most iconic ‘villainous’ animals – the Great White Shark. Depicted in stereotypical ‘Jaws’ style with the shark crashing out of the water with jaws agape, it featured a highly realistic rendition of the Great White which was complimented by the coin’s mirror finish.[2] The reverse had its name, as well as the coin’s weight and silver fineness indicated in a specially designed font strictly exclusive to the series alone.

The following year’s issue (2008) welcomed a more obscure but highly deadly Australian animal – the Blue-ringed Octopus. Known for its lethal nature advertised by the vivid blue rings that decorate its body and tentacles, it is depicted in highly realistic coloured detail amid a background of mirror-finish proof silver imitating sea-grass and a shoreline.[3] The animal’s name, the coin’s weight, and its silver fineness are incorporated with the special font into the design.

With 2009 came one of the more ornate Deadly and Dangerous pieces – this one displaying the absolutely fierce and unpredictable Saltwater Crocodile. Depicting a highly detailed rendition of the crocodile in full colour with jaws agape, it is set against a background of a marshland with lily pads.[4] Due to the extreme attention to the detail and realism of the crocodile’s skin, as well as the choice selective colouration of the background, it is considered a special edition coin, with a limit of only one coin per household. The animal’s name as well as the standard details similar to all previous issues are also indicated in the special series’ font.

Not content with the highly ornate and realistic detail of the Saltwater Crocodile silver coin, 2010’s mintage came out with yet another highly-detailed and extremely realistic rendition of a lethal animal – the Eastern Brown Snake.[5] With careful and meticulous attention to detail, the colored silver coin rendered the varying shades of the snake’s scales, skin, and features that the image, depicted as it is ready to strike, literally leaps from the proof background! Like the Saltwater Croc before it, the Eastern Brown Snake was limited to only one coin per person. As with all other issues, the animal’s name and the coin’s details are included in the reverse.

With a keen eye for detail, the artists of the Perth Mint created a coloured-coin masterpiece in their 2011 release, which featured Australia’s notorious Box Jellyfish. Rendered in high-relief silver to imitate the transparency of the creature as found in nature, it was offset by the highly realistic rendition of the background, replete with selective coloration of the coral reefs depicted in the background, and the meticulous shades of the water that gave it an almost true-to-life appearance.[6] The animal’s name and pertinent details regarding the coin’s weight and fineness are also included in the reverse design.

The last release of the Deadly and Dangerous series for this year (2012) featured the obscure Funnel Web Spider. Depicted with utter realism, it portrayed the stuff of every arachnaphobe’s nightmare. Rich-black in colour, with hinds of red-brown, it is offset by the mirror-finish of the proof coin as well as the selective-colouration of its background – number of leaves, as well as a richly designed spider web around the arachnid’s rear in silver.[7] Due to its detail, it too is limited to only one coin per person. As with all the others, the name of the animal and the details of the coin are stated as part of the design.

All the Deadly and Dangerous coins come with special display packages as well as booklets that provide information about the featured animal. Owing to the extreme popularity of the Deadly and Dangerous series, the Perth Mint has already begun developing the designs for 2013’s featured animal.

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