Aug 192015
 

Born on this day 19 August in 1921, Gene Roddenberry led a life as colourful and exciting as almost any high-adventure fiction. A decorated B-17 pilot who later flew for Pan American Airways, he possessed a passion for literature and futurology – which laid the foundations for his greatest achievement, the legendary science-fiction series, Star Trek.

Gene_Roddenberry

Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek
(Image courtesy startrek.com)

Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry spent his boyhood in Los Angeles, studied three years to become a policeman and then transferred his academic interest to aeronautical engineering and qualified for a pilot’s license. He volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps in the autumn of 1941 and was ordered into training as a flying cadet when the United States entered World War II.

Aviation

Emerging from Kelly Field, Texas, as a Second Lieutenant, Roddenberry was sent to the South Pacific where he entered combat at Guadalcanal, flying B-17 bombers out of the newly-captured Japanese airstrip, which became Henderson Field. He flew missions against enemy strongholds at Bougainville and participated in the Munda invasion. In all, he took part in approximately 89 missions and sorties. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

While in the South Pacific, he also began to write. He sold stories to flying magazines, and later poetry to publications, including The New York Times. Upon his return from combat, he became a trouble-shooter for the Air Force working out of Washington, D.C., investigating the causes of air crashes. At war’s end, he joined Pan American World Airways. During this time, he also studied literature at Columbia University.

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Gene Roddenberry and actor Jonathan Frakes who played Commander Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
(Image courtesy startrek.com)

It was on a flight from Calcutta that his plane lost two engines and caught fire in mid-air, crashing at night in the Syrian desert. As the senior surviving officer, Roddenberry sent two Englishmen swimming across the Euphrates River in quest of the source of a light he had observed just prior to the crash. Meanwhile, he parleyed with nomads who had come to loot the dead. The Englishmen reached a Syrian military outpost, which sent a small plane to investigate. Roddenberry returned with the small plane to the outpost, where he broadcast a message that was relayed to Pan Am, which sent a stretcher plane to the rescue. Roddenberry later received a Civil Aeronautics commendation for his efforts during and after the crash.

Back in the States, Roddenberry continued flying until he saw television for the first time. Correctly estimating television’s future, he realized that the new medium would need writers and decided that Hollywood’s film studios would soon dominate the new industry. He acted immediately, left his flying career behind and went to Hollywood, only to find the television industry still in its infancy, with few openings for inexperienced writers. At a friend’s suggestion, he joined the Los Angeles Police Department, following in his father’s footsteps and gaining experiences which would be valuable to a writer.

Hollywood

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Spock, Kirk, Bones and Scotty in Star Trek: The Original Series.

By the time he had become a sergeant, Roddenberry was selling scripts to such shows as Goodyear Theatre, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Four Star Theater, Dragnet, The Jane Wyman Theater and Naked City. Established as a writer, he turned in his badge and became a freelancer. Later, he served as head writer for the highly popular series Have Gun, Will Travel. His episode “Helen of Abiginian” won the Writers Guild Award and was distributed to other writers as a model script for the series. Next, he created and produced The Lieutenant series, starring Gary Lockwood and Robert Vaughn; it told the story of a young man learning the lessons of life while in the United States Marine Corps.

In 1964, Roddenberry unveiled his concept for a science fiction series – a show about a group of characters who would travel each week to worlds similar to our own. He set the show “somewhere in the future”— close enough to our time for the audience to be able to identify with the continuing characters, but far enough into the future for galaxy travel to be thoroughly established. Star Trek followed in 1966 – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Legacy

As creator of the Starship Enterprise and its crew, which included the heroic Captain Kirk and the logical Vulcan, Mr. Spock, Roddenberry unwittingly unleashed a phenomenon in which Star Trek enthusiasts became a veritable cult, numbering physicists, aerospace engineers, housewives, senators, children, teachers and intellectuals among its devotees (affectionately known as “Trekkies,” and later, “Trekkers”).

The show went outside television to win science fiction’s coveted Hugo Award. When NASA announced its space shuttle program, fans wrote hundreds of thousands of letters demanding the first orbiter be named in honour of the beloved Starship. On 4 September 1986, fans presented Roddenberry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first writer/producer to be so honoured.

Gene Roddenberry passed away on 24 October 1991 – his legacy never to be forgotten. No one could have imagined the cultural impact that this weekly “space opera” would have on multiple generations of viewers. Interest has never waned as demonstrated by twelve Star Trek motion pictures, five additional television series and now the official coin program.

Credit: startrek.com (edits by The Perth Mint).
TM & © 2015 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Aug 172015
 

SnowWhite_DisneyDisney’s first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered on 21 December 1937.

Based on the German fairy tale published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, it told the story of a fair young princess forced to flee the evil Queen’s murderous jealousy, and how she found refuge in a forest cottage belonging to the small-statured Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful and Happy!

The movie’s culmination established one of Disney’s famous trademarks – a happy ending. After the dwarfs helped defeat the villainous Queen, Snow White found love with the handsome Prince of whom she’d always dreamed.

The fetching storyline, its endearing characters, and the technical innovations introduced by Disney stunned the star-studded audience at the movie’s launch. Charlie Chaplin announced that it “surpassed our high expectations.” Snow White went on to become one of the most popular films ever made, establishing Walt Disney as one of the world’s great film producers.

Disney Princess: Snow White

Following the Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine officially-licensed 2015 Disney Princess coins, these superb new releases celebrate “the fairest one of all” – Snow White.

SnowWhite_Coins

Struck in proof quality from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver and 1/4oz of 99.99% pure gold, the coins portray Princess Snow White surrounded by relief engraved flowers. Issued as legal tender of Niue, no more than 10,000 silver coins and 1,000 gold coins will be released.

Each silver coin is presented in delightful fairy-tale book style packaging incorporating a Certificate of Authenticity. Each gold coin comes in a timber display case and illustrated shipper accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.

SnowWhite_coin-cases

More Disney coins

Issued by NZ Mint and Struck by The Perth Mint.

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Aug 142015
 

Mother of pearl is a hard, smooth, shining iridescent substance that forms the inner layer of the shells of certain molluscs, such as the oyster and abalone. It displays a mix of colours, ranging from deep cobalt blue and peacock green, to hues of purple, cream and pink.

Also known as nacre, mother of pearl is highly sought after as decorative pieces and used in the manufacture of jewellery, buttons, cutlery, guns, inlays in furniture, musical instruments – and now a limited Australian legal tender silver coin!

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Australia’s mother of pearl industry

Australia’s commercial pearling industry began long before European settlement. Coastal dwelling Aboriginals in northern Western Australia harvested the abundant pearl shell by hand from shallow waters. Such was their success that they had enough surplus shells to engage in international trade. This began in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century with visits from the Macassan trepangers from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which resulted in the exchange of trepang (sea cucumbers), turtles and pearl shell, for tobacco, rice, and axes.

The large, plate-like shells with stunning mother of pearl lustre were also traded domestically from Broome right across the country. From the deserts to the southern coast, pearl shells were sought after by Aboriginal peoples for cultural celebrations and rituals.

Western Australia’s modern-day pearling industry took off in the 1850s when European settlers began exploiting the value of the pearl fields in coastal areas such as Shark Bay. Other locations included Cossack, Onslow and Broome, which by 1910 was the biggest pearling centre in the world, home to nearly 400 luggers (ships) and more than 3,500 pearl fishermen.

The harvesting of mother of pearl shell, rather than the pearls themselves, continued to be the main objective of the West Australia-based pearlers, who provided almost three quarters of the world’s supply of pearl shell.

At the outbreak of the Great War, the price of mother of pearl fell dramatically as demand dropped with the invention and expanded use of plastics. During both World Wars, the industry came to a standstill as many workers enlisted. However, the post-war years saw its revival – this time, however, it was based on the cultured pearl industry, for which Broome is now equally renowned.

Australian White Mother of Pearl Shell 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin

MotherofPearl_Silver-coin

A stunning accompaniment to the Australian Abalone Shell 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin, this release features a sculpted representation of an Australian white mother of pearl shell with a polished fragment of mother-of-pearl centrepiece, against a rippled pattern representing the ocean floor.

Presented in a classic Perth Mint display case, the stunning coin is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity. No more than 3,000 of the 2015 Australian White Mother of Pearl Shell 1oz Silver Coin will be released by The Perth Mint.

MotherofPearl_Silver-coin-case

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Aug 072015
 

Each release from the innovative Treasures of the World ‘locket’ coin series celebrates a renowned gem and a continent in which it has been venerated through time.

Matching Europe with garnet in 2013 and Australia with gold in 2014, the series now focusses on North America’s association with turquoise.

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Turquoise has long played a central role in the art and culture of Native American Indians. Legend has it that when they rejoiced at the arrival of rain, their tears of joy seeped into the Earth where they were transformed into this sought-after gemstone.

Mining for turquoise dates back at least 2,000 years in the Southwest of the continent. Significant deposits have been found in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Colorado and Utah. Originally, indigenous peoples in these areas shaped and polished turquoise into beads and adornments including necklaces, earrings and bracelets. It was also highly-prized for its talismanic properties.

With Spanish colonization and the spread of silversmithing skills during the 16th century, Native Americans fabricated stunning silver and turquoise jewellery. Today, turquoise remains a significant material in their contemporary jewellery designs which are internationally popular.

Classic turquoise is sky-blue in colour and is generally opaque with waxy lustre. Turquoise also occurs in hues ranging from blue-green to green, and often with black veins that lend unique character to individual pieces.

Treasures of the World – North America

Struck from 99.99% pure gold and 99.9% pure silver, this year’s Treasures of the World coins feature a design representing a Southwest desert landscape. Within each coin there is a locket containing hand-cut and polished turquoise sourced from Arizona.

Turquoise_Coins_Packaging

Housed individually in presentation packaging accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity, just 750 gold coins and 7,500 silver coins will be released.

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Aug 062015
 

As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Bruce Lee with new gold and silver commemorative coins, here are 10 classic images of the Kung Fu master accompanied by 10 of his many memorable sayings.

  • <center>“Always be yourself. Express yourself. Have faith in yourself.”</center>
    “Always be yourself. Express yourself. Have faith in yourself.”
  • <center>“All types of knowledge ultimately mean self-knowledge.”</center>
    “All types of knowledge ultimately mean self-knowledge.”
  • <center>“You must accept the fact that there is no help but self-help.”</center>
    “You must accept the fact that there is no help but self-help.”
  • <center>“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived.”</center>
    “The meaning of life is that it is to be lived.”
  • <center>“Action is a high road to self-confidence and esteem.”</center>
    “Action is a high road to self-confidence and esteem.”
  • <center>“When I have listened to my mistakes, I have grown.”</center>
    “When I have listened to my mistakes, I have grown.”
  • <center>“When one is not expressing himself, he is not free.”</center>
    “When one is not expressing himself, he is not free.”
  • <center>“Have faith in your ability. You will do just fine.”</center>
    “Have faith in your ability. You will do just fine.”
  • <center>“You will never get any more out of life than you expect.”</center>
    “You will never get any more out of life than you expect.”
  • <center>“Success means doing something sincerely and wholeheartedly.”</center>
    “Success means doing something sincerely and wholeheartedly.”


Bruce Lee – the legend

Born in San Francisco on 27 November 1940, Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong-American martial artist and teacher, action-film actor, philosopher, and film maker. He remains one of the greatest icons of martial arts cinema and 20th century pop culture. His film success in Hong Kong in the early 1970s kick-started a cultural obsession with martial arts cinema and would be hugely influential in opening up the martial arts genre in the United States of America, as well as Europe, in the decades to follow.

Off the back of the tidal wave of success created by his first two films, The Big Boss and Fist of Fury, Bruce Lee was able to write, produce, direct and star in Way of the Dragon, released in 1972. This film was also a record breaker and earned him recognition and fame not only in Hong Kong, but also in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, he never saw the opening of his next project, Enter the Dragon, the first ever Hong Kong-American co-production. On 20 July 1973, Bruce Lee passed away at the age of 32. His success as a martial arts actor opened the door to broader depictions of Asian Americans in cinema and created a whole new breed of action hero. His legacy as a martial artist and instructor continues to be revered among legions of fans worldwide.

75th Anniversary of Bruce Lee
2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin
Maximum Mintage: 5,000
Buy now
 BruceLee_SilverCoin
75th Anniversary of Bruce Lee
2015 1/4oz Gold Proof Coin
Maximum Mintage: 1,000
Buy now
 BruceLee_GoldCoin

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BruceLee_75th_Birthday_logoBRUCE LEE® and the Bruce Lee signature are registered trademarks of Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC. The Bruce Lee name, image, likeness and all related indicia are intellectual property of Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC. All Rights Reserved. www.brucelee.com.

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Aug 042015
 

Anagram_TravelPosterDame Eileen Mayo’s iconic ‘Australia’ poster, first released in 1957, captured the essence of central Australia. Featuring a brilliant colour depiction of a kangaroo and her joey standing proud in a red desert landscape, the poster was used to entice visitors to experience Australia’s unique landscapes and locations.

Solve this month’s anagram for your chance to win an amazing 1oz rectangular silver coin portraying the famous Australian travel poster.

Clue: Geological terminology for famous central landmark

SmoothLandTension

How to enter: Email your answer to anagram@perthmint.com.au marking your reply ‘August 2015 Anagram Competition’ in the subject line. Please include your name, address and telephone number. Entries close on 31 August 2015. Eligible entrants will be included in the free draw and the winner will be notified by telephone or email. Terms and conditions.

See us on Facebook and Twitter for notification of anagrams and other great coin competitions.

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Last month’s winner: Congratulations David Christiansen of Queensland for the correct answer of ‘City of Cambridge’.