Nov 272015

Bruce Jun Fan Lee was born in the hour and the year of the Dragon, on 27 November 1940 in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Bruce was the fourth child born to Lee Hoi Chuen and his wife Grace Ho. Lee Hoi Chuen was a comedian in the Chinese opera, and an actor in Cantonese films. At the time Bruce was born, Mr. and Mrs. Lee were on tour with the opera company in the United States.

At the age of three months, Lee Hoi Chuen, his wife Grace, and baby Bruce returned to Hong Kong where Bruce would be raised until the age of 18. Bruce was not a strong child, something that would change when he took up the study of gung fu at the age of 13. It was at this time that Bruce was introduced to Master Yip Man, a teacher of the Wing Chun style of gung fu, with whom Bruce trained for the next five years.


A natural showman, Bruce was always quick and agile on his feet, also proving to be a talented dancer, winning the Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship in 1958.

In addition to his studies, gung fu, and dancing, Bruce was a child actor under the tutelage of his father who recognized at an early age that Bruce had a streak of showmanship. By the time he was 18, he had appeared in 20 films.

At the age of 18, with $100 in his pocket, Bruce boarded a steamship and began his voyage to San Francisco, and then Seattle, where he enrolled at the University of Washington.

During the three years that Bruce studied at the university, he supported himself by teaching gung fu in parking lots, garages, and any other open space he could find. In 1963, Bruce opened his first gung fu school in Seattle, the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute.

One of his students in 1963 was a freshman at the University of Washington, Linda Emery. Bruce and Linda soon fell in love and married in 1964, before moving to Oakland where Bruce opened his second school.

Having now been in the United States for five years, Bruce had left behind any thought 
of acting as a career, and devoted himself completely to martial arts as a profession.

In 1964, just as Bruce was cementing his plans to expand his martial arts schools, he made a guest appearance at the inaugural Long Beach International Karate Championship in Long Beach, California. This exhibition resulted in Bruce meeting Hollywood producer William Dozier, who subsequently cast him as ‘Kato’ in The Green Hornet, a television series produced in 1966. Later that same year, Bruce and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he opened his third gung fu school. However, soon after, Bruce realised his love for martial arts was not something he wanted to turn into a business, leading him to turn his attention to acting full time.

In 1970, Bruce travelled to Hong Kong and was surprised to find he was widely recognized for his role in The Green Hornet. His popularity in Hong Kong led producer Raymond Chow to ask Bruce to join the cast of two upcoming film projects. The first of these two projects, The Big Boss, was released in 1971 and was a smash hit at the box office.


75th Anniversary of Bruce Lee
2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin
Maximum Mintage: 5,000
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75th Anniversary of Bruce Lee
2015 1/4oz Gold Proof Coin
Maximum Mintage: 1,000
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This taste of success prompted Bruce to move his family, which then included a son, Brandon, and a daughter, Shannon, to Hong Kong to focus on his acting career. His second film, Fist of Fury, released in 1972, was an even bigger hit than the first.

Following the tidal wave of success created by these first two films, Bruce was able to write, produce, direct, and star in Way of the Dragon, released in 1972. Once again, the film broke records, earning Bruce recognition and fame not only in Hong Kong, but also in Hollywood.

Bruce’s growing popularity and success resulted in the first ever Hong Kong-American co-production which came about from Bruce’s relationship with Warner Bros. president Ted Ashley. Filming of Enter the Dragon commenced in 1972 and the film premiered in August 1973.

Unfortunately, Bruce would not live to see the opening of his film. On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee passed away at the age of 32. His legacy as a martial arts actor enabled broader depictions of Asian Americans in cinema and created a whole new breed of action hero. His talents as a martial artist and instructor continue to be revered, and his spirit remains an inspiration to untold numbers of people around the world.

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.


Nov 262015

Today marks 150 years since Lewis Carroll wrote the enchanting story of a girl named Alice and her marvellous adventures in Wonderland. With a unique bunch of characters such as the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter, this revolutionary tale changed the landscape of children’s literature forever, leaving a long lasting cultural impact on the world!

Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole has inspired countless theatrical performances, film adaptions, television shows and even video games, adding to its ground-breaking appeal.

Here is a list of five interesting things you may not know about the beloved children’s classic….

  1. The story was based on a real girl called Alice Liddell. She was the daughter of Henry Liddell, the dean of the Christ Church College at Oxford where Carroll taught mathematics.
  2. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson chose the pen name Lewis Carroll by using a play on the Latin translation of his real first and middle names.
  3. Dodgson modelled the Dodo character in the book after himself. Legend has it that the author had a tendency to stammer and that he would often introduce himself as ‘Do-do-dogson’.
  4. Queen Victoria was a fan of the book and suggested that Carroll dedicate his next work to her.
  5. The book has never been out of print since it was published in 1865 and has been translated into over 170 languages.


The Perth Mint has paid homage to this classic by releasing a beautiful 150th Anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin. The coin’s reverse design portrays Aleysha Howarth’s interpretation of John Tenniel’s original illustrations of Alice, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat. Issued as legal tender of Tuvalu, no more than 5,000 of these coins will be released in individual presentation packaging.


Sep 232015

Just 18 years old, the colony of South Australia fabricated Australia’s first gold coin on this day in 1852.

Strictly speaking it isn’t a coin, but a coin-shaped ingot or token guaranteed by the colony 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 city’s sovereigns. As the first successful miners began to return with their finds, a means of turning it into coins was quickly required

With the local economy on the brink, the Adelaide Assay Office was hastily established under the Legislative Council’s 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. No example of the type one is known today without some evidence of the die crack. The example pictured was made with the second die cut by local die sinker Joshua Payne. Nearly 25,000 of these ‘coins’ were struck, but not many survive today and most that do have been mounted for jewellery.

The reverse portrays a crown and the year-date 1852 inside a dentilated inner circle with an inscription around the outer circle. Fleur de lis are positioned either side of the word ADELAIDE.

Unfortunately, by infringing upon the Royal prerogative to coin gold, the Adelaide Pound was technically illegal. Its creators felt the time involved in gaining permission from London to establish a mint was too great a risk to the economy. By the time approval was received, production of the Adelaide Pound had ceased anyway thanks to a shipment of sovereigns.

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 162015

On 16th September 1770, Captain Cook’s expedition to Australia witnessed the Aurora Australis, becoming the first Europeans to note the astonishing light show.

Aboard HMS Endeavour, botanists Joseph Banks wrote in his journal:

“About 10 O’Clock a Phaenomenon appeard in the heavens in many things resembling the Aurora Borealis but differing materialy in others: it consisted of a dull reddish light reaching in hight about 20 degrees above the Horizon: its extent was very different at different times but never less than 8 or 10 points of the compass. Through and out of this passd rays of a brighter colourd light tending directly upwards.”

Unknown to Cook and his fellow explorers, the lights are created when energetic particles, principally electrons, strike the upper atmosphere and travel along Earth’s magnetic field lines. (The same principle operates in a flourescent tube or neon light.)

Glow in the dark coin

Australian Antarctic Territory Series – Aurora Australis 2013 1oz Silver Proof Coin

The reverse of this 2013 silver coin from the popular Australian Antarctic Territory Series features a representation of this natural wonder also known as the Southern Lights. Coloured with glow-in-the-dark ink, the portrayal of Aurora Australis glows in the dark!


Sep 092015

Queen Elizabeth II today becomes Britain’s longest serving monarch.

Celebrating her historic achievement, this souvenir Stamp & Coin Cover incorporates an Australian $1 coin issued by The Perth Mint and two Australia Post stamps featuring famous photographic portraits of Her Majesty:

  • Cecil Beaton photographed Her Majesty on the royal family’s return to Buckingham Palace after the coronation service in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. The dramatic depiction of the young Queen against a painted a backdrop of Henry VII’s Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey was a significant departure from previous coronation portraits.
  • Peter Grugeon took the portrait of the Queen at a sitting on 1 January 1975, in the period leading up to her Silver Jubilee in 1977. Photographed in Buckingham Palace, the portrayal shows Her Majesty wearing the Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara and Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee necklace.

Highly collectable, the Stamp & Coin Cover also bears a postmark in the shape of the Garter Star which incorporates the words First day of issue | 9 September 2015 | Elizabeth, SA 5112.


An affordable Australian tribute dated for the day on which The Queen set a new record, it would make a superb addition to any collection of Royal memorabilia.


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, creator of Star Trek
(Image courtesy

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.


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.


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

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.



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.


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: (edits by The Perth Mint).
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