Bullion round-up 10: Elephants, Samurai, Moggies, Sailing Ships, and the jelly of doom…

I say this every time, but I always underestimate how long these bullion round-ups take to put together. This one was due out yesterday, but here we are anyway. It’s a great selection, but doesn’t cover everything we know about. The Royal Mint’s new King Arthur coin will come this week, and we really should have a look at the Lunars, but this is a great cross-section of the bigger issues from all over.

There are some big guns, like the perennial Somali Elephant, and the ninth Prehistoric Life release, but the bulk are some from the burgeoning limited mintage market. Highlights for us are the next Australia’s Most Dangerous coin from the RAM, the second Fiji Cats coin, and a quite extraordinarily nice Icons of Inspiration coin, featuring the world’s most intelligent loo brush, Albert Einstein.

This is our tenth round-up, and one we intend to keep going, despite my hatred of actually putting them together, and we’ll also continue with the Pop-culture coin round-ups, (music, movies, TV), as well. Both are better for my brain, which often struggles to come up with something original to say about the 20th coin in a series, as you can imagine, and I don’t suppose reading my ramblings is any more enjoyable. Hope this one introduces you to your next purchase or three.

2023 AUSTRALIA’S MOST DANGEROUS: BOX JELLYFISH (Royal Australian Mint)

A super series of gold and silver one-ounce bullion coins, the Royal Australian Mint’s ‘Australia’s Most Dangerous’ series continues with a nasty little dealer of death, the Box Jellyfish. There are at least 50 species of this jellyfish, none being particularly large, and some really tiny. Many, however, are extremely venomous, causing human fatalities, with the victim often unaware, at first, that they’ve even been near one. The largest species, up to 3 m including the tentacles, is the one responsible for the dozens of deaths in Australian waters, with death coming in as little as two minutes.

We’ve always liked this series, with previous issues, Redback Spider, Great White Shark, and Desert Scorpion, all sporting good design. This one is also nice, having a good stab (probably a bad choice of words given the stingers on these) at showing the chaotic nature of jellyfish swarms. Imagine falling into the middle of that lot! The obverse is the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, with no plans this year to migrate to the King Charles III. The usual pairing of one-ounce silver and one-ounce gold, both with tight mintages.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$1 AUD (Australia) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 40.0 mm B/UNC 25,000 NO / NO
$100 AUD (Australia) 0.9999 gold 31.1 g 38.74 mm B/UNC 250 NO / NO

2022 ANCIENT WARRIORS: SAMURAI (LPM Group)

A new series from Hong Kong dealer, LPM Group, and one we suspect is loosely tied to their helmet-shaped numismatic range, ‘Ancient Warriors’ will look at some of the famous military groups that have made their mark in history. Kicking it off is the Samurai, coincidently also the first subject in their helmet’s range. All the expected design elements are there, the katana, what looks like Mt. Fuji, the robes, and the distinctive architecture.

It’s a nice design, filling the coin face, and unencumbered with superfluous inscriptions. We suspect this will be an attractive piece in hand. The obverse is just the typical Fijian coat-of-arms. Just the one-ounce silver format in the range at present, but the mintage of just 10,000 pieces is attractive. All told, a nice addition to the market. If they do follow the numismatic range, we can expect Spartan, and Crusader designs to follow.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$0.5 FJD (Fiji) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 40.0 mm B / UNC 10,000 NO / NO

2022 SAILING SHIPS: SANTA MARIA (Pobjoy Mint)

The third issue of Pobjoy Mints sailing ship themed coins, the Santa Maria is famous for being the ship that took the explorer Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic on his voyage to the New World. Along with the Nina and the Pinta, they’ve entered history in a way that few ships do. Amazingly, despite being the biggest of the three ships, it displaced just 150 tons. For comparison, modern cruise ships are approaching 250,000 tons, although that does come with better food…

Two formats are available, both sporting an enhanced Reverse Frosted Cameo finish, and both an ounce in weight, with just the metal differing. Although the artwork on both is identical, it’s far better on the gold, which eschews the border to expand the ship to fill the face. Why they don’t do that with the silver is a mystery, but we’d like to see it. Regardless, a nice piece that follows the Cutty Sark and the Mayflower. Both of those had a minigold offering as well, so hopefully, that will be the case again. The obverse carries Pobjoy’s own effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. We’ve yet to hear what they will do next year regarding King Charles III.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$100 (British Virgin Islands) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 38.6 mm B/UNC 10,000 NO / NO
$100 (British Virgin Islands) 0.9999 gold 31.1 g 32.7 mm B/UNC 100 NO / NO

2022 PREHISTORIC LIFE: PARASAUROLOPHUS (Emporium Hamburg)

The 12-coin ‘Prehistoric Life’ series, released at the rate of 3 a year for four years, wraps up its 2022 offerings with a herbivore, Parasaurolophus. Despite being considerably less dramatic than a T. Rex, or a Liopleurodon, for example, this coin immediately jumps to being one of our favourites to date. There’s a great, natural scene, with a pair of adults protecting their young from some enquiring raptors. While they’re far too small to pose a threat to the adults, Parasaurolophus was nevertheless preyed upon by such beasts as the huge theropod Gorgosaurus, and Deinosuchus, a huge crocodilian.

A wider range than many here, it’s also a more affordable one as a result. There are one-ounce silver coins in clean-struck, and coloured forms, while gold is covered not with an expensive one-ounce coin, but rather with a half-gram minigold. It’s good to see this, as we’re constantly dismayed at the slow death of fractional gold bullion. We have no idea why. A terrific series, there are three more to come in 2023, two reptiles and a fish, and all look good. You can see the issues to date in our Coin Series Profile to the range.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
20 Francs (Congo) 0.9999 silver 31.1 g 38.6 mm B / UNC 10,000 NO / NO
20 Francs (Congo) 0.9999 silver 31.1 g 38.6 mm B / UNC 2,000 NO / NO
100 Francs (Congo) 0.9999 gold 0.5 g 11.0 mm PROOF 2,000 NO / NO

2023 AFRICAN OUNCE: SOMALI ELEPHANT (Emporium Hamburg)

A real staple in the bullion calendar, the Somali Elephant has depicted this magnificent animal since 2004, and has done so over a myriad number of formats, and styles every year. Last year, there were over 20 offerings in gold and silver, along with proof sets, and specials. There’s nothing else quite like it. The style you see here with the 2023 coin is pretty much what it’s been for years, and while the series has sometimes struggled with repetition, it’s always kept a good standard.

This year sees an elephant grazing on a tree, and the famous baobab tree and a gentle hill create a background habitat. The border is wide, but it seems to be a series signature, so it is what it is. Collectors of this series will find much to like here, and as we said, you’re sure to find something to fit every taste and budget. The Somali Elephant is a bullion staple for good reason. If it wasn’t such a nightmare getting usable images together, we’d do a new guide to replace the defunct one.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
100 Shillings (Somalia) 0.9999 silver 31.1 g 39.0 mm B / UNC Unlimited NO / NO
2,000 Shillings (Somalia) 0.9999 silver 1,000 g 100.3 mm B / UNC Unlimited NO / NO
1,000 Shillings (Somalia) 0.9999 gold 31.1 g 39.0 mm B / UNC Unlimited NO / NO

2022 FIJI CATS II (Muenzen Engel)

The second of Muenzen Engel’s attractive Fiji -issued ‘Cats’ series is now available to order. Depicting a kitten, it’s another super design, and with cats basically owning the internet, we can see it being very popular. It’s very clean, just the inscription ‘CATS’ is present here, and there’s detail where it’s needed, and none at all where it isn’t.

As well as the one-ounce 0.999 silver coin, there’s an identical one, but with a colour application, and a considerably smaller mintage. W’re less keen on this one, although we suspect it’s much better in hand. The background field will be clean silver, rather than the black shown here, an unfortunate side effect of photographing silver coins head-on, and one we know only too well here.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$0.5 FJD (Fiji) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 40.0 mm PROOF-LIKE 12,000 NO / NO
$0.5 FJD (Fiji) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 40.0 mm COLOUR 2,000 NO / NO

2022 NATIVE AMERICANS: EAGLE (Auragentum)

Following hot on the heels of their new gold-only ‘Viking Age’ bullion series, German dealer Auragentum has launched the first in a 10-coin, 5-year series featuring a look at Native American culture. The first is called ‘Adler’ (Eagle), and is dedicated to their concepts of ‘Freedom, courage, strength, & wisdom’. The reverse is dominated by an image of a Native American warrior, arm outstretched, upon which rests the eagle. The iconic, flat-top mountains of many a cowboy movie, reside in the background.

Like the Viking series, this is gold-only, and comes in just the single one-ounce format. Likewise, only 250 units will be struck. It will be followed by ‘Arrow’ in 2022, ‘Warbonnet’ & ‘Feather’ in 2023, and the last six, (Horse, Totem Pole, Tomahawk, The Running Water, Handprint, and Tipi), being released two-per-annum through 2026. A terrific choice of subject, we hope it continues the good standard shown here. Shame there’s no silver for us paupers.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
3,000 Francs CFA (Cameroon) 0.9999 gold 31.1 g 38.6 mm B / UNC 250 NO / NO

2022 ICONS OF INSPIRATION: ALBERT EINSTEIN (APMEX)

We’re going to straight-up state that we think ‘Icons of Inspiration’ is one of the best bullion coin series in production today. Designed by coin artist Joel Iskawitz, each issue showcases one of the great minds in human history. We’ve already seen Galileo Gallilei, Leonardo da Vinci, and Sir Isaac Newton coins, and each of them has exhibited first-class design. Now, the mad-haired lad himself, Albert Einstein, joins the series.

These have been very detail packed for bullion coins, and Einstein is no exception. As with earlier issues, there’s a bust image of the scientist, in front of a background replete with images associated with his work. His most famous equation, E=mc², is placed on a globe in the foreground. The face of Einstein is terrific, very recognisable even at the 32 mm diameter of the gold coin. It also helps that the series has one of the best obverse designs in bullion – gorgeous.

As before, a one-ounce silver and gold make up the range, the latter coming boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity. For those so inclined, there’s also a silver proof variant with a mintage of just 100 pieces. An APMEX series, it can also be purchased elsewhere, like EMK in Germany, for example. Awesome series.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$2 NZD (Niue) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 39.0 mm B / UNC 10,000 NO / NO
$250 NZD (Niue) 0.9999 gold 31.1 g 32.0 mm B / UNC 100 YES / YES

2023 MODERN JAPANESE TRADE DOLLAR (East India Company/LPM)

The third in another attractive series called ‘Modern Trade Dollars’ the Japanese variant takes inspiration from the early mercantile bullion coins used around the world, and brings them up to date, while maintaining a national flavour. A very cool Japanese dragon sits over a globe displaying the islands of Japan. In its hand is held the pearl, much like the Chinese depiction. The main difference is the more aquatic theme, hinted at with the Hokusai style waves.

Yet another series with a choice of gold and silver, but only in one-ounce formats, there are also proof coins available for the numismatic fan,m obviously struck to a higher standard. A good series.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
£1 GBP (St. Helena) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 38.6 mm B / UNC 5,000 NO / NO
£5 GBP (St. Helena) 0.9999 gold 31.1 g 32.0 mm B / UNC 100 YES / YES

2022 LOONEY TUNES: DAFFY DUCK (APMEX)

Another APMEX pop-culture series, Looney Tunes debuted earlier this year with Bugs Bunny, and now Daffy Duck has joined the line-up. Very clean and simple in style, they actually capture the character mayhem really well, although non-fans (what!) may not take to the simplicity. It’s Looney Tunes, for sure, in my view something vastly superior to Disney’s saccharin characters.

Another one-ounce range, with silver in standard and coloured forms, and a clean gold coin as well. The latter is boxed with a COA, as is a limited silver proof version. Definitely one for the fans.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$5 (Samoa) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 39.0 mm B / UNC 15,000 NO / NO
$5 (Samoa) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 39.0 mm B / UNC, COLOUR 3,000 SLAB
$5 (Samoa) 0.999 silver 31.1 g 39.0 mm PROOF 250 YES / YES
$25 (Samoa) 0.999 gold 31.1 g 34.0 mm B / UNC 150 YES / YES

2022 60 YEARS OF 007: COLOURED EDITION (MDM/Perth Mint)

We covered this coin in our last round-up, but it’s back in coloured form, sporting a 25,000 mintage. It’s basically the same design, just with the 60 picked out in black, and the 007 logo in gold ink.

The dual options are back, with the coin available either encapsulated (22,000), or mounted in a neat blisterpack (3,000). It’s primarily an MDM Wholesale release, although the Perth Mint itself deals with Australian sales.

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$1 TVD (Tuvalu) 0.9999 silver 31.1 g 40.9 mm B / UNC 22,000 NO / NO
$1 TVD (Tuvalu) 0.9999 silver 31.1 g 40.9 mm B / UNC 3,000 CARD
MUENZEN ENGEL
EMPORIUM HAMBURG
AURAGENTUM
APMEX
NEW ZEALAND MINT
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT