Endangered and Extinct Silver Coins of Australia

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Australia is home to a wide variety of unique animals that cannot be found anywhere else. Due to its one-of-a-kind geographical location, many animals that would have otherwise died out or evolved into what can be termed as more ‘modern’ versions of themselves remained as is and became something like living relics. While the aboriginal Australians who once populated the continent paid their respects to these ancient and unique animals, often incorporating them into their spirituality and mythology, it was during the colonization of Australia and the eventual arrival of westerners that the precarious balance in the ecosystem of Australia became irreparably disturbed, initiating a chain of events, whether intentional or unintentional, that led to the endangerment if not the downright extinction of some rare endemic species. Despite the growing concern in preserving habitats and attempting to re-populate rare and dwindling species of animals, the danger posed by human progress is just as real today as it was when Australia was on the brink of industrialization.

To commemorate those animals that have been driven to the point of extinction, as well as to promote the awareness of preserving those rare species that are nearing the brink of annihilation, the Perth Mint has released a set of coins in an ongoing mintage that features endangered and extinct animals endemic to Australia. Minted in 99.9% fine pure silver and weighing a uniform one troy ounce with every yearly mintage, it depicts the animals in stunning full-colour detail set against a background of intricately detailed proof-quality silver that truly shows off the beauty of the coloured designs while creating the perfect backdrop that showcases the natural habitat of the featured animal.

The obverse face of the coin bears the standard portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with the legends ‘ELIZABETH II TUVALU’ along with its face value (A$1) and its weight and silver fineness – a feature which will remain constant in all subsequent mintages.

The series kicked-off with the introduction of the silver Tasmanian tiger.[1] Not really a tiger, but a type of marsupial that seems like a hybrid between a canine and a feline (it is actually a primitive specie belonging to the thylacine family), it was called a ‘tiger’ due to the unique stripes found on its back. Depicted in richly realistic colour, with a tiny cub protectively next to the adult, it is set against a background of intricately detailed silver depicting the natural habitat of the animal accompanied by a stylized ‘plank’ that bears the animal’s name. Due to the meticulous craftsmanship involved in the creation of the coin – from the colouration to the intricate background design – the coin is issued only in a limited number of 5, 000 coins, effectively making it a must-have by both collectors and investors alike.

The second coin the series, minted in 2012, features the endangered Tasmanian Wedge-tailed eagle,[2] an animal previously depicted in another coin series called ‘Birds of Australia’ minted by the Royal Australian Mint (not to be confused with the Perth Mint’s own series of the same name) in 1994.[3] Depicting a highly detailed portrayal of the eagle with its characteristic fierce glare, it is unique in its true-to-life adherence to the natural colouration of the bird. It is set against a highly detailed background of the eagle’s natural habitat in frosted and mirrored silver. A characteristic ‘plank’ can be found beneath the coin with the animal’s name. As with the Tasmanian tiger coin, the Wedge-tailed eagle coin’s production is also limited to only 5, 000 coins.

The Endangered and Extinct series created by the Perth Mint is still an ongoing series, with the next coin to be minted coming next year, and many other coins depicting rare, endangered, and extinct animals to come.

Endangered and Extinct Silver Coins of Australia - References:

[1] http://www.perthmint.com.au/catalogue/2011tasmaniantiger1ozsilverproofcoin.aspx
[2] http://www.perthmint.com.au/catalogue/endangered-and-extinct-2012-tasmanian-wedge-tailed-eagle-1oz-silver-proof-coin.aspx
[3] http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=128733

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