An illustration of the Eastern Rosella by noted ornithologist, John Gould, inspires Downies new proof silver coin
We haven’t had a look at Downie’s issues in some time, which is odd as we’re fans of many of their issues, like Deadly & Dangerous, and the very neat, Australia at Night series. Both those series are nature based, and so is this new issue. Rather than higher-end, expensive coins, they’ve chosen a more affordable format this time, a simple one-ounce coloured coin struck to a proof finish. That doesn’t prevent it being a beauty, however.
If you’re going to do a colour coin like this, it will live or die on its artwork, so choosing as impressive a work as this image of an Eastern Rosella, from the work of noted British ornithologist John Gould’s seminal mid-19th century work ‘Birds of Australia’, is always a good start. Lovers of the work of the legendary Audubon will find much to like here, and Gould’s work, specifically by his artist wife, Elizabeth, is quite exceptional by the standards of any time, either Victorian or modern.
The coin is realised very well, with the background flora cleanly struck, bringing the birds into greater highlight. Just the bird name, and a custom privy mark honouring the man, are present on the reverse face, with all those annoying issue inscriptions kept on the obverse, where they belong. The packaging is also elegant, and the whole thing just works for us – we’re big fans. Just 750 will be minted, and it’s available now, with shipping in late April. One that almost flew under the radar, we’re glad we caught it.
Native to the south-east of Australia, but also present through much of New Zealand, the Eastern Rosella is a colourful parrot, first described in the late-18th century.
It’s usually around 30 cm in length, and sporting a predominantly red head and chest, over a blue, yellow and green body, both covered with black and white highlights. The females are duller than the males, with juveniles duller still.
The bird feeds mainly on fruits, seeds, flowers, and insects. They breed in spring, producing from 2 to 9 eggs in a one-metre deep hollow placed up to 30 metres high in a tree.
Born in Lyme Regis, Dorset in 1804, John Gould was a noted ornithologist, garnering much recognition in his own lifetime for his work studying birds, even referenced by Charles Darwin in his pivotal “On the Origin of Species”.
He produced noted works of his own, including a five-volume Birds of Europe, mostly illustrated by his wife, Elizabeth, which gave him the wealth he needed to visit Australia.
He spent over two years there, and the end result was the seven volume ‘The Birds of Australia’, containing over 600 plates, and 328 birds new to science. It was a seminal work, leading to Gould being known as the father of Australian ornithology.
|DENOMINATION||$1 NZD (Niue)|
|COMPOSITION||31.1 g of 0.999 silver|
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