Starting in 2013 with the release of a coin featuring a Saltwater Crocodile called Bindi, the Royal Australian Mint (RSM) embarked on a twelve coin series depicting some of the impressive crocodiles that inhabit Australia Zoo. Each year sees a frosted-uncirculated (FRUNC) finish coin attached to a card, followed by a proof coin in a box later on. For the first two years the second coin has been a coloured one, but for 2015 the RSM has changed tack and gone with a proof high-relief design instead. We for one applaud the decision and think high-relief coins are often the best version of a silver series; witness the Perth Mint’s many examples.. We don’t as yet know if this is a one-off, or the new normal.
We’ve featured the FRUNC version back in August last year and to be honest found it the weakest of the three entrants so far, but the proof version has upped its game quite a bit. While the colour coins were certainly nice, this looks an improvement, even if being high-relief does have the unfortunate side-effect of reducing the diameter from 40mm to 32mm. Mintages have reduced drastically from the 5,000 of the coloured coin, to just 1,500 of these; another plus point as the coloured coins are still relatively easy to pick up. We’ll make a point of checking these out in the flesh in Berlin to see what they look like, as official images never quite capture the effect clearly. Available to order now for $100 AUD ($90.91 Intl.), it ships from the end of this month.
The Mint’s collaboration with Australia Zoo, the sixth coin in the popular Australian Saltwater Crocodiles series features our favourite crocodile of the moment, Agro Junior. Becoming fearfully lifelike on the newest coin, the meticulous high relief technique has allowed our coin designer to provide much more depth to the design. Appearing like a scene captured from Australia Zoo’s Crocoseum, Agro Junior lies eagerly in wait on a creek bed. With an extremely low mintage of only 1500 and an unheard-of price for a strictly limited edition product, this stunning coin will not be lurking around for long.
Since 1988, 37-year old Agro has lived in the comfort of Australia Zoo’s Crocoseum. This 15-foot wonder was captured from the wild to protect him from hunters who had been stalking his Cattle Creek home. Not only did he find a new home, but he fell in love with Cookie, a ten-foot lady crocodile who is the calmest and ‘gentlest’ of crocs in the enclosure. Agro and Cookie raised a son, Agro Junior, the star of this new collectable coin.
Australia Zoo, located in the state of Queensland, is a 100-acre zoo owned by Terri Irwin, the widow of the late nature hero, Steve Irwin. Opened by Steve’s parents Bob and Lyn in 1970, the zoo runs with the philosophy that the zoo animals came first, the zoo team came second, and the zoo visitors came third. In the forty+ years since opening, it’s won a reputation for animal welfare and for helping to popularise environmental concerns throughout the world.
THE UNCIRCULATED FINISH VERSION
The first Agro Jr. coin was released last August but carries a 2015 date like this proof release. Mounted on a card, the frosted-uncirculated version isn’t high-relief and as a result has a greater diameter at 40mm. We think the proof is a superior design and still think the uncirculated version is a relatively weak entrant in the series.