Australia’s numismatic look at the stars through the eyes of indigenous art continues with Seven Sisters

If anyone is going to have a history of night sky art, it will be the Indigenous people of Australia. Considered to be the oldest astronomers in the world, they’ve spent millennia looking up and seeing patterns and images ripe for reinterpretation into the nature they knew. The distinctive artistic style and the subject matter are inspired choices for a coin series, particularly from a mint with such a fine recent history of astronomy coins.

The first issue back in May featured the ‘Emu in the Sky’ and was a pretty design that brought something new to the genre. The second issue is now here and has turned its attention to the famous ‘The Seven Sisters’, more accurately known as The Pleiades, an open star cluster in the NW of the constellation Taurus. The nearest Messier object to Earth it is very bright in the night sky, helped by its composition of relatively young (~100m years) hot blue and luminous stars. It’s hardly surprising that the early Aboriginal peoples took such notice of it.

The style used for the coin follows that initiated by artist Scott Towney, but this time it’s been designed by Wajarri-Noongar artist Christine ‘Jugarnu’ Collard. What do we think? We liked the first issue, and this one is quite superb. The pointillism-style coloured section works in perfect symbiosis with Aboriginal art to create something unique and attractive, while still managing to get the message over as to what the subject is.

The seven female figures literally dancing over the coin title inscription is a fantastic touch and they look anatomically excellent – none of that cartoonish imagery here. It’s rare to see the text on a coin made part of the design like this, but it works so well we’d be more than happy to see it again.

It’s all backed by a series of five converging lines, which seem to be a series signature element as it was a prominent part of the first issue as well. The obverse design is a simple effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, surrounded by the usual issue details. The Royal Australian Mint has dabbled with enhanced obverse designs, but not here sadly.

The presentation is neat enough, with a standard RAM box in a themed shipper, holding an enclosed Certificate of Authenticity. The mintage remains capped at 5,000 units and the price stays at $70.00 AUD. We stated in our coverage of the first coin how the series was a pleasant surprise and that remains the case again. An attractive coin series and a unique take on a popular genre in modern numismatics. More please. Available now.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 15.55 grams
FINISH Uncirculated
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes