Now complete, Apex Predators is a series of five silver coins depicting those animals that reign at the top of the food chain in Australia, a country full of candidates for that throne. Released by the Australian Gold & Silver Exchange (AGSX), formerly Coin Club Australia, all of the coins are dated 2016 and were released over that period. We’re fortunate in that of all the places on this planet, Australia has such an interesting, unique and diversified bunch of killers from which to choose some perfect numismatic subjects. Not the first to go this route, the Perth Mint’s Deadly & Dangerous being another notable example, we think this one is the best out there.
Choosing to go with a portrait-orientated rectangular format instead of round, this simple change has meant the artwork is unrestrained by a shape that is often quite difficult to utilise effectively when portraying wildlife. The proof is there for all to see. The artwork by Elise Martinson, a Sydney-based illustrator also responsible for the Bush Babies and Mythical Creatures series, is quite beautiful, not a weak one amongst them. Indeed, we’d go as far as to say that each is one of the finest depictions of that animal to be seen on a numismatic, especially the shark and the crocodile. While they’re coloured, the range is limited to greyscale only which works very well. Only a small rectangular area with the date and composition inscribed within it is a distraction. The artists signature is also discretely inscribed.
The obverse is typical for a Cook Islands issue. As a Commonwealth state, the effigy of it’s head, currently Queen Elizabeth II, is a requirement for the coins and here it’s present in the form of the very popular Ian Rank Broadley penned portrait. Her name, the issuing state and the denomination complete the picture, along with the date again (why?). Packaging is also first-class. Each is supplied in one of the innovative latex ‘floating’ frames that allow a coin to be clearly seen from all angles. The outer shipper is decorated with a version of the coin artwork and also look quite superb. Struck in an ounce of fine silver measuring 50 x 29mm, the whole series is a credit to those involved. At the time of writing, all were still available from AGSX in both standard and artists signed variants, the latter limited to just 25 pieces from each 2,000 mintage and being autographed by Elise.
It’s also a credit to AGSX that they’ve put aside a small sum from the sale of each coin to go to a wildlife conservation organisation. It’s long been a bugbear here that in a market awash with endangered animal coins, often at very high prices, very few mints give anything back. A $1 from every coin sold in this range is sent to the Taronga Conservation Society Australia, a non-profit working for wildlife conservation in Australasia and Africa. We’re sure collectors will be good with that. Only Numiscom with its Cheetah DNA coin does something similar. A beautiful coin series that collectors of wildlife numismatics would do well to look at.