Oct 092015

It was during our first visit to Australia back in the 90s that we travelled to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. The hotel location provided easy access to Mount Whitefield Regional Park and its walking tracks through the rainforest. As visitors from overseas we were particularly intrigued by a sign indicating the area was home to Southern Cassowaries, and eager to experience unique Aussie wildlife, set off in determined mood to see the mystery bird.

Sweating all day in the oppressive heat (later described as “unusually cool” for the time of year), we covered many kilometres in search of the apparently aloof creature. Despite being stopped in our tracks by a giant lizard, we headed home disappointed that our much anticipated meeting had failed to materialise.


What had we been thinking!! That night, over a well-deserved ice-cold beer (or two), we read hair-raising tales about the dangers of spooking a Cassowary. According to the info at hand, a bird that feels threatened may defend itself by charging and kicking with dagger-like claws, literally opening us up to the possibility of disembowelment!

(If you ever get yourself into a face-off with an irritable Cassowary, the literature advised holding a backpack between your torso and the bird while slowly backing away).

Having subsequently witnessed a Southern Cassowary at the zoo, this is a truly striking animal. Related to other flightless birds like the emu, ostrich and kiwi, it can tower up to two metres tall and weigh as much as 70kg – making it Australia’s heaviest bird. Possessing a vivid blue head, drooping red wattles and a ‘casque’, or horn-like structure on top of its head, the species’ extraordinary appearance is strongly suggestive of its dinosaur ancestry.

Unfortunately, the Southern Cassowary is now in serious difficulty. Degradation and fragmentation of its habitat as well as vehicle strikes and dog attacks mean that it’s a threatened species at State and Federal levels, and also listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. What many probably don’t realise is that Queensland numbers have fallen to only two or three thousand.

Endangered and Extinct – Southern Cassowary 2016 1oz Silver Proof Coin

That memorable day in the tropical rainforest makes this new release from the Endangered and Extinct Series one of significant personal interest. Depicting a vivid portrait of a Southern Cassowary with a chick, its low mintage of just 5,000 means more of these coins exist than there are birds in the wild – alarming!

Looking back, it’s a relief our paths never crossed. Today it seems more appropriate to appreciate Australia’s rare Southern Cassowary through the medium of this stunning silver coin.


Endangered and Extinct – Southern Cassowary 2016 1oz Silver Proof Coin

written by Stephen Ward


Oct 072015

The list of Australia’s most hazardous inhabitants invariably includes the Redback spider.

A relative of the Black Widow, this angry arachnid was responsible for at least 14 human deaths before the availability of anti-venom.


The problem with Redbacks is that unlike deadly sharks, crocs and brown snakes, they prefer the comforts of urban living. The average suburban block provides plenty of nooks and crannies just perfect for a Redback residency.

Around sheds, under garden furniture, in the letterbox – you name it, a Redback is probably sizing up its potential new abode. So happy are they to dwell in dilapidated dunnies that Redbacks are sometimes dubbed toilet spiders!

In possession of potent neuro-toxic venom, the female is by far the most dangerous of the species. Fortunately, camouflage is not her strong suit, emblazoned as she is with a bright red abdominal stripe or splotch.

A scruffy web is another tell-tale sign of her presence. Unlike the classic orb web, it’s a disheveled-looking but actually highly sophisticated construction of tangled catching lines designed to trap prey.

It’s into this sticky den that the much smaller and less colourful male must venture in order to mate with his dominant partner. Regrettably, the outcome is rarely great for such a fearless fellow, as in a macabre ritual, the female bites and devours him during copulation. You might say he’s required to make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of love!

Australian Map Shaped Coin Series — 2015 Redback Spider 1oz Silver Coin

RedbackSpider_ShipperThe seventh release in the extremely popular Australian Map-Shaped Series of 1oz pure silver coins features a Redback spider. No more than 6,000 of these remarkable coins will be released in presentation packaging.


Oct 062015

Christmas-backgroundAs the year draws towards its conclusion, we hope you’ll enjoy some festive fun with our 2015 Christmas Competition!

Commencing Tuesday 13 October, nine weekly prizes will be up for grabs with an exciting Grand Draw in Week 10. Everybody who enters between Weeks 1 and 9 will automatically be in the draw for the chance to win an amazing Australian Koala 2015 1/4oz gold proof coin.

More details of each weekly prize and how you can increase your chance of winning the Koala gold coin coming soon!!

View our 2015 Christmas Gift Guide


Last month’s Anagram contest winner: Congratulations Robyn Ongheen of Queensland for the correct answer of ‘Latrobe Tasmania’.

The Anagram will return in January 2016.


Oct 062015

This month’s new coin bulletin introduces superb coloured versions from the 2016 Year of the Monkey coin program and the stunning Lunar Typeset Collection featuring proof, bullion coloured and gilded Monkey coins each made from 1oz of pure silver.

Continuing with the Chinese theme, Five Blessings is an intricate silver release portraying five bats, culturally symbolic of longevity, wealth, health, virtue and the desire to die a natural death in old age!

Among the latest releases depicting our iconic Australian fauna is a new addition to the Australian Wedge-tailed Eagle suite of coins. Crafted from 99.95% pure platinum, it is exceptionally rare with a maximum mintage of just 500.

Sure to be a winner, the latest Australian Map Shaped Coin portrays the infamous Redback spider, while Endangered and Extinct now features the extraordinary-looking Southern Cassowary.

For those who like to get organised early, this month’s bulletin also features our 2015 Christmas coin. Portraying a traditional image of a festively decked tree, the unique star-shaped release can also be used as a hanging decoration.

**Look out for the official Back to the Future coin program which will launch on 21 OCTOBER. These exceptional releases are perfect for fans celebrating the 30th anniversary of the hugely successful 1985 movie starring Michael J. Fox.


Oct 012015

New customers buying gold and silver bullion* coins to the value of AU$5,000 are no longer required to complete ID checks when ordering over the telephone.

Previously, all new customers wishing to buy bullion coins had to provide two certified identification documents as part of their customer registration process.

This condition no longer applies to phone buyers purchasing bullion coins under the AU$5,000 limit. New buyers can now open an account and place their first order during the very same call!

It's now more convenient for 'mum-and-dad' type investors as well as gift buyers to collect coins from The Perth Mint's gold and silver bullion range.

It’s now more convenient for ‘mum-and-dad’ type investors as well as gift buyers to collect coins from The Perth Mint’s gold and silver bullion range.

Telephone buyers can continue to buy bullion as frequently as they wish so long as the value of their accumulated orders awaiting dispatch from the Mint does not exceed the maximum allowance.

According to Perth Mint Acting General Manager, Neil Vance, the new rules for telephone ordering will benefit many customers. “It will help small investors, particularly ‘mum-and-dad’ type buyers, who want to purchase one or two coins at a time with as little hassle as possible,” he said.

“Gift buyers too will appreciate the ability to pick up individual bullion coins from series like our Australian Lunar program, which is an extremely popular way of marking Chinese New Year and celebrating birthdays.”

The Perth Mint’s full range of internationally renowned bullion coins, as well as its cast and minted bars, can be viewed on www.perthmintbullion.com. To open an account and order, just call 1300 201 112 from Australia or +61 8 9421 7218 from overseas.

For orders in excess of AU$5,000, customers must satisfy full ID requirements under the Australian Government’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

[*Bullion Coin – a mass produced coin primarily aimed at precious metal investors. May be supplied with or without a capsule and/or tube, and without Certificate or presentation packaging.]


Sep 292015

Isaac Newton is undoubtedly one of the most influential scientists of all time. He also spent 30 years running the Royal Mint, then located in the Tower of London.

The late 17th century was a time of crisis for England’s silver coinage. With many hammer-struck coins still in circulation, the problem of ‘clipping’ had become serious.

Clipping is the act of illegally shaving off a small amount of a precious metal coin for profit. The irregular shaped, rimless coins of Newton’s day made them easy to clip without detection.

And with people in continental Europe prepared to pay a high price for silver bullion, the temptation to clip England’s coinage simply proved too great!

Milled edges on coins are often associated with Isaac Newton.

Milled edges on coins are often associated with Isaac Newton.

Newton accepted the position of Warden of the Mint in 1696. At his disposal was “a new invention of rounding the money & making the edges of them with letters or grainings”. When the Government decided to recall all clipped and badly worn coins, he oversaw the replacement program with extreme efficiency.

Complete by the middle of 1698, the ‘re-coinage’ stopped clippers in their tracks. Perfectly round machine-made coins with milled edges made it impossible to scrape off even the minutest piece of silver without being detected.

Like his brilliant scientific deductions, Newton’s coin legacy lives on. Although clipping modern fiat coins made from base metal is largely pointless, milled edges are a useful deterrent to would-be coin counterfeiters.

The collar die.

The collar die.

The need to mill each coin’s edge was eventually replaced by the use of the collar die – a device which surrounds the blank, imparting the edge design into the blank when it is struck.

Today, these serrations also fulfill another useful function by helping blind people distinguish different coin denominations. Examples of this in action include the Australian two-dollar coin which has a mostly smooth rim alternating with small sections of milling, and the one-dollar coin which has a mostly milled rim alternating with small sections of smooth rim.