Sep 272012

The opportunity to design the entire Birds of Australia coin series was dream come true for Perth Mint designer Natasha Muhl.

The self-confessed ‘bird nerd’ grew up in the Kimberley in the North West of Australia where her family had a keen interest in birds – enabling her to look back on childhood photographs as part of her preparation and research for the series.

As she observes: “It was great to use one of my life passions to inspire my work.” Her beautiful drawings clearly demonstrate a remarkable affinity for all things avian.

Perth Mint coin designer Natasha Muhl and the first coin from Birds of Australia

Tash, as she prefers to be known, dreamed of becoming an illustrator as a youngster. A modest person, she recalls she never thought it would come true!

But after training as a graphic designer at Perth’s Central Institute, The Perth Mint snapped up the young talent and she’s subsequently put her name to some memorable coins.

Tash’s approach to illustrating is traditional. “Innovation is something that certainly motivates the coin design team and we’re always on the lookout for new ideas. However, I pride myself on being a bit of a traditionalist, and I prefer modest methods such as drafting each design with pencil and paper, before bringing it to life on the computer,” she explains.

“I find it really helps to get my imagination flowing, and I love the process of getting my creations down on paper.”

It’s obvious that coming to work for Tash is a joy. Every day she gets to do what she’s always wanted. That’s satisfying for her and great news for fans of her work, who can expect to see many more of her distinctive depictions.

“I hope to be here for many years to come, working on a variety of classic designs,” she beams.


Sep 242012

This magnificent oil painting inspired by The Perth Mint is vying for a prestigious art prize which aims to raise awareness and appreciation of the built and natural heritage of Central Perth.

Created by local artist Jamie Russ, Inherit the Dream portrays our famous forecourt statue featuring Arthur Bayley and William Ford, the two gold prospectors whose discovery 120 years ago at Fly Flat (Coolgardie) triggered the greatest gold rush in west Australian history.

“I wanted to portray the strength and hope on which Perth was founded,” says Jamie. “Early settlers and prospectors overcame such challenging circumstances, showing us that even in the most desperate situations, sheer perseverance, optimism and an iron will can help us build a better world for ourselves and our descendants.”

“The ethereal arch illuminating the miners within it represents a window in time between the past and present. I believe we should all step back through this window every now and then and be reminded of our incredible heritage, what we have achieved and the potential for our future.”

All the finalists in the 2012 Black Swan Prize for Portraiture and Heritage, which attracted some of Australia’s finest and most creative artists, are currently on public display at 137 St Georges Terrace. Winners will be announced on 27 September at a special Award Night.


Sep 242012

The instinct to collect runs deep in many of us – collecting is a compulsion that can’t always be explained clearly, let alone be controlled by rational thought.

Behavioural psychologists believe that some people collect in an effort to remember and relive their past. Coins and notes can be an effective means of achieving this.

The time when a child is first given the opportunity of sharing the responsibility of buying a household item regularly consumed by their family is important from a developmental point of view – this small increase in independence marks just one of the phases of growth from child to adult, and can have very strong memories associated with it.

Coins and notes can act as a strong reminder of the prices that everyday items such as newspapers, milk or even a bus ticket used to command. Such figures can be seared into the memory of a child. Once the child becomes an adult and sees or holds a tangible item that links them to those events from their childhood, it can evoke a range of nostalgic memories.

I have clients who remember a parent or older relative using a certain coin or note in a particularly important purchase from their childhood, whether it was for something as mundane as a ticket to the cinema, or for something as significant as a new electric appliance. Such strong memories have driven these collectors to acquire a range of coins or notes, so they can share the stories of their importance with their children and grandchildren.

I’ve also had clients share stories of a particular coin or note that had been lost or stolen during childhood. Once they’d gained the financial means of being able to do so, many felt compelled as an adult to finally acquire an example of the item – in so doing giving themselves a powerful sense of completion and satisfaction.

The reality, of course, is that there are as many different reasons for collecting as there are collectors and collections. But the desire to connect with the past drives a desire in some of us to collect old coins and notes that we’re seemingly quite powerless to resist!

Andrew Crellin’s numismatic career began at The Perth Mint. Subsequently he spent over a decade in Sydney with two of Australia’s leading numismatic dealers. In that time he wrote two acclaimed books on Australian numismatics, appraised The Perth Mint’s archival collection and was nominated to the position of Secretary of the Australasian Numismatic Dealer’s Association. Back in Perth, his company Sterling and Currency specialises in Australian coins and banknotes, from the Holey Dollar of 1813 through to the modern coin sets.


Sep 232012

Today marks the 160th anniversary of the Adelaide Pound, Australia’s first gold coin – and there aren’t many examples better than the one we’ve pictured here.

Strictly speaking it isn’t actually a coin, but a coin-shaped ingot or token guaranteed to be worth one pound.

It came about after an estimated 8,000 men left Adelaide to join the Victorian gold rush – taking with them most of the colony’s sovereigns.

The Adelaide Assay Office was hastily established under the Bullion Act of 1852. At first it made irregularly-shaped ingots, but on 23 September it began production of 22-carat Adelaide Pounds.

Images courtesy of – click to magnify.

The initial die cracked almost immediately. This example was made with the second die. Nearly 25,000 Type II Adelaide Pounds were struck, but not many survive today and most that do have been mounted for jewellery.

Unfortunately, by infringing upon the Royal prerogative to coin gold, it was technically illegal. By the time this news reached the colony from Britain, however, production of the Adelaide Pound had already ceased.

Nevertheless, it was the first ‘coin’ produced in Australia from Australian ore with an entirely Australian design. It is hardly surprising surviving examples are keenly sought by enthusiasts the nation over.


Sep 202012

The ultimate collection of British gold sovereigns is being auctioned in London.

Compiled over 34 years by a private collector, the Bentley Collection is being sold by Baldwin’s in three separate parts.

Part two, which comes under the hammer on September 27, includes a remarkable range of colonial branch mint gold coins and is thus of most interest to Australian collectors and investors.

The highlight and most valuable coin in the sale is the fabled 1920 Sydney Mint sovereign – one of 251 lots of Australian based material. Among them are notable dates from The Perth Mint, including 1899, 1926 and 1931.

A feast for any sovereign enthusiast, the sumptuous catalogue includes biographical information on each of the monarchs reigning over the British Empire during the period and profiles of each of the colonial branch mints.

The catalogue can be viewed online at Baldwin’s (click image).

  • Adelaide Type II Gold Pound Token – Lot 628
  • Sydney Branch Sovereigns 1855 to 1926 – Lots 629-743
  • Melbourne Branch Sovereigns 1872 to 1931 – Lots 744-844
  • Perth Branch Sovereigns 1899 to 1931 – Lots 845-878

The sale will be broadcast over the internet using the services of

UPDATE: The AustralianMystery man buys rare coin for $1 million


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Sep 192012

Should Australia at some point in the future vote to become a republic, it is not unreasonable to assume that the obverse of our coins would depict the Australian Coat of Arms.

100 Years Old Today

The current design of the Australian Coat of Arms was granted by Royal Warrant of King George V on 19 September 1912. It consists of the badges of the six States of the Commonwealth on a shield enclosed by an ermine border; the Crest of the Arms, comprising a seven-pointed star and wreath; and two Supporters from our endemic fauna – the kangaroo and emu.

Having appeared on a number of circulating and commemorative issues to date, the Coat of Arms provides collectors with a potentially rewarding theme to pursue. For example:

George Kruger Gray’s rendition of the 1912 Coat of Arms with a royal crown over a shield depicting the badges of the six Australian states became a feature of the Australian florin from 1938 onwards.

Revising the design for the new 50 cents decimal coin in 1966 famously fell to Stuart Devlin. First appearing on the circular one-year type and subsequently on the dodecagonal (12-sided) version, his work portrayed the Coat of Arms on a background of Mitchell grass.

The Perth Mint was authorised to portray the 1912 Coat of Arms on the obverse of an Australian silver commemorative (above a small effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II). The coin was released in 2008 on the 100th anniversary of the original 1908 Coat of Arms, which appeared on the reverse of the limited collectable.

The following year, The Perth Mint introduced its annual Australian Citizenship $1 base metal coin program. Aimed primarily at those celebrating the privileges of their newfound status as Australian citizens, each aluminium-bronze coin depicts the Coat of Arms on a more customary background of golden wattle.

Our annual Perth Mint Proof Australian Sovereign provides yet another opportunity to acquire an Australian legal tender issue portraying the Commonwealth of Australia’s Coat of Arms. Exquisitely crafted from 22-carat gold, it would undoubtedly make an excellent centrepiece of a collection with the potential to grow extensively!


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