Apr 112014
 

The first two coins in this absolutely gorgeous 1/2oz silver proof coin series have now been released.The Lioness and Asian Elephant releases will be joined in forthcoming months by coins portraying the love been a mother and baby Giraffe, Bear and Orangutan.MothersLovex2

While each coin is available individually, there is also a subscription option  suitable for those determined to complete the series without fear of missing a release.

More details.

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Mar 192014
 

Covered in spikes, the Thorny Devil is a fearsome-looking lizard.

In fact, it is totally harmless. At 20 centimetres long, this slow-moving creature feeds exclusively on ants – over 1,000 a day!

Living in arid areas of Australia, those spikes come in extremely useful. They help funnel rain and moisture to its mouth via grooves in its skin.

The spikes are difficult to swallow too, deterring would-be predators.

When threatened, the Thorny Devil dips its head, presenting the knob on its neck as a kind of false head. This is also useful in surviving an attack.

Another amazing thing about the Thorny Devil is that it can change colour, providing camouflage in the desert or spinifex.

Thorny Devil

A new release from Australia’s Remarkable Reptiles, this coin depicts a Thorny Devil Lizard.

One of Australia’s most remarkable reptiles, the Thorny Devil is superbly depicted on this 2014 1oz silver proof coin.

With a mintage of just 5,000, the coin is presented in a wooden presentation case accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

Click here to find out more.

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Mar 192014
 

The Albatross became an icon of Antarctica in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

In the famous ode, a storm blew the old mariner’s ship south to where it was ‘wondrous cold’, whereupon an Albatross appeared along with ‘a good south wind’ to help them escape the frigid sea.

To his eternal regret, the mariner shot the majestic bird with a cross-bow, an action for which he was doomed to wander Earth forever recounting his tale on the importance of ‘all things great and small’.

A Wandering Albatross is portrayed on our latest Australian Antarctic Territory Series coin. One of more than 22 species, it seems perfectly suited to Coleridge’s story. Like the mariner condemned to wander for eternity, it roams unremittingly across the Southern Ocean from the Antarctic to subtropical waters.

Wandering_Albatross

White in colour, the Wandering Albatross has black tipped wings which when fully spread at up to 3.5 metres, represent the largest wingspan of any living bird. This lengthy wingspan allows it to expend remarkably little energy while flying. Gliding effortlessly over the ocean on updrafts of wind, it can travel vast distances, covering several thousand kilometres in just one week.

In fact, this mighty seabird spends the majority of its life in flight, landing only to breed and feed, and will probably fly further than any other bird on Earth.

Known to reach the age of 50 years or more, the Wandering Albatross is also one of the longest living birds in the world – so long, of course, that it does not have the misfortune to encounter the ancient mariner!

Australian Antarctic Territory Series – Wandering Albatross 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin.

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Feb 192014
 

Uniquely, the Australian Opal Coin Series portrays nocturnal native animals in slivers of spectacular opal gemstone.

Released this month, the fifth coin in the series portrays a Tasmanian devil – one of Australia’s most iconic marsupials.

The term ‘devil’ is a bit harsh. On the other hand, early European settlers found its dark colouring, cantankerous nature and, above all, bloodcurdling screech, extremely disturbing.

Tasmanian_devil

Once found throughout mainland Australia, the devil was probably hunted to local extinction by dingos. In the absence of its primary predator in the island of Tasmania, however, it flourished – at least for a while.

Colonisation brought devils further problems. Suspected of attacking poultry, they were trapped and poisoned for more than a century. Complete extinction seemed a real possibility until in 1941 the Tasmanian devil was protected by law.

Sadly, its tribulations were far from over. Today, Devil Disease, which causes contagious facial tumours, is again threatening the population. There is a now a determined effort to preserve this important creature for the future. [Save The Tasmanian Devil]

World’s largest carnivorous marsupial

The Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial. It has muscular jaws and sharp teeth said to be able to deliver, pound for pound, one of the most powerful bites in the mammalian world.

As scavengers, they eat whatever they can – including birds, snakes and reptiles. Devils are especially rowdy when jockeying for position on the carcass of a sheep or cow, which like all their food, disappears completely – bones, fur and all!

Such poor table manners contributed to the devil’s reputation as a bad tempered brawler, but these days it’s considered one of nation’s most famous species whose care and protection is an important priority.

TasmanianDevil_coin

Australian Opal Series Tasmanian Devil 2014 1oz Silver Proof Coin.

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Jan 072014
 

In a major development that will have profound significance for numismatists on two continents, The Perth Mint is delighted to announce that the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint has created the magnificent reverse for our new Australian Wedge-Tailed Eagle gold and silver high-relief proofs.

John_Mercanti

John Mercanti

One of America’s most respected coin sculptor-engravers, John Mercanti joined the U.S. Mint in 1974, holding the position of Chief Engraver from 2006 until his retirement in 2010. His achievements are remarkable – with the coin and medal design process traditionally a competition between members of the in-house team, John is responsible for more successful designs than any other employee in the history of the U.S. Mint.

Among them is the American Eagle silver coin, first issued in 1986. Featuring John’s re-interpretation of ‘Walking Liberty’ and a stunning heraldic eagle on the reverse, “the coin that started it all” was a landmark release in U.S. history.

JMercant_plasterJohn brought his extraordinary talents to bear on the Australian Wedge-Tailed Eagle project on behalf of The Perth Mint. Despite being honoured for so many outstanding achievements in American coin design, he is kind enough to describe the opportunity to sculpt the image for an Australian legal tender issue as “one of the highlights of my career.”

The eagle is traditionally a symbol of freedom, spirit, vision and strength, one which still inspires him from a design perspective. His immediate thought was to present it in an original way: “I asked myself, how could I use the same subject that’s been used before but depict it differently and make it interesting?”

The Wedge-Tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey and one of the biggest eagles in the world. Defining characteristics include its huge wingspan, fully feathered legs (in contrast to its North American cousin, the Bald Eagle) and, of course, its wedge-shaped tail.

There is no doubting the power and splendour of this mighty bird from John’s superb portrayal. To satisfy the requirement for a unique viewpoint, he chose to capture an eagle preparing to land on the branch of a dead tree. “I decided to show the eagle in flight, approaching the stump, wings spread so that the viewer could see the majesty of the wings,” he elaborates.

The beauty of the design is enhanced by John’s stunning representation of the eagle’s intricately layered feathers. Conspicuous against an uncluttered, mirror-like table, the crisp, high-relief strike maximises an onlooker’s appreciation of this immense detailing.

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With a limited mintage of just 1,000 gold and 10,000 silver coins, the appeal and desirability of this classic design is all but assured.

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Oct 182013
 

The Perth Mint has launched a new series of coins featuring Australian megafauna.

The term (mega meaning ‘very large’ – fauna meaning ‘animals’) describes a range of super-sized vertebrates – animals with backbones – that emerged after the dinosaurs. Favoured by conditions at that time, they were able to grow much larger than is common today.

Megafauna did not only exist in Australia. Woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers are legendary examples that roamed other parts of the world.

Australia’s unique megafauna included:

  • Procoptodon – at up to three metres tall, the largest kangaroo known
  • Diprotodon – sometimes referred to as the giant wombat
  • Genyornis – a colossal flightless bird with great long running legs
  • Thylacoleo a carnivorous marsupial that weighed well over 100kg
  • Megalania – the largest land lizard ever to live in Australia
Procoptodon-Silver-Coin

Procoptodon – the first coin from the Australian Megafauna 1oz Silver Proof Coin Series

Many megafauna species became extinct during the Pleistocene, an epoch that lasted until around 12,000 years ago. There are several theories behind their disappearance, meaning we’re not entirely sure what happened.

Plentiful evidence for their existence, however, is found in limestone caves across Australia. These caves were formed when water dissolved soft rock beneath the surface. Eventually their roofs started collapsing, creating sink-holes that were deadly traps for unsuspecting animals.

Some of the most famous caves are located at Naracoorte in South Australia. They acted as pitfall traps for hundreds of thousands of years, becoming huge depositories for all sorts of animal remains – including extinct megafauna.

Since 1969, palaeontologists have excavated and dated many fossils from Naracoorte, which was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.

Visualising megafauna today

Peter-Trusler

Peter Trusler.

Today, we can visualise with astonishingly accuracy what Australian megafauna looked like thanks to the work of highly-skilled paleo-illustrators such as Peter Trusler, who goes to extraordinary lengths to create authentic imagery.

Often faced with only fragmentary evidence from the fossil record, Peter compares his role to that of a detective looking for clues. At the outset of each illustration, he spends much time researching literature, visiting museums and talking to scientific experts to create an understanding of the context in which the animal lived and behaved.

Combining these considerations with physical fossil evidence, Peter painstakingly builds up a representation of the animal’s skeleton. Drawn from several angles, his sketches provide a good appreciation of its three-dimensional shape.

In collaboration with anatomists, these images can be equated to modern animals, enabling him to start to understand the types of muscle systems that attached and operated over these bone surfaces. “So gradually, I’m piecing together the muscles to flesh it out to give you an idea of the shape of the living animal,” says Peter.

Megafauna_sketches

Clockwise from top left: Diprotodon, Megalania, Genyornis, Thylacoleo, Procoptodon – as drawn by Peter Trusler for the Australian Megafauna series.

All in all, it is a lengthy process that invariably takes longer to investigate than it does to produce the final artwork.

“It may take me six months to talk to the scientists, read the literature, visit the museums and pull all that work together to get an idea of what I should do in the final painting,” he says. “After that, it may only take me a month or two to do the actual painting!”

Peter’s rigorous, multi-disciplinary approach has won many plaudits; his work has been published around the world in books and journals, on posters and on stamps. Collections of his magnificent art pieces are held in both national and international archives, most notably the Australia Post Philatelic Collection in Melbourne, Museum Victoria, also in Melbourne, and the National Geographic Society Collection, Washington.

Now his stunning illustrations of Megafauna also appear on a collectable series of Australian coins.


Win a framed megafauna sketch signed by the artist

The Perth Mint is offering collectors the chance to take out a subscription to all five coins in the Australian Megafauna Series.

A subscription guarantees collectors availability of all five coins and offers two more attractive benefits:

  • automatic entry to a free draw for one of two framed sketches signed by the artist, Peter Trusler. (Eligible subscriptions must be taken out by Monday 11 November 2013 – see Terms and Conditions.)

Megafauna_sketch_prize

  • a complimentary five-coin plastic presentation sleeve in which to protect and display the entire series. (Shipped with the third coin in March 2014.)

Megafauna_sleeve

Download the subscription order form or call 1300 663 991 to arrange a subscription now.

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