Exclusive! Triangular bullion coin series ‘Australian Shipwrecks’ is back with Vergulde Draeck, The Gilt Dragon

Returning for 2020 is a surprising 2019 debut series from the Royal Australian Mint and dealer LPM HK called Australian Shipwrecks. The RAM are not what you would call prolific issuers of bullion designs, certainly not in the way their kinsmen at the Perth Mint are, so it’s always good to see something new emanating from Brisbane. Two things made this issue so unusual and both are pretty cool.

The first one is pretty obvious – the coin is broadly triangular in shape – not something you see every day in the bullion coin market, yet looking at these it seems so perfectly natural. The second distinct feature with this one, relates to the obverse. Despite being an Australian issue, the obverse face of this coin is almost completely filled with unique custom art, with just a tiny location at the top set aside for the mandatory effigy of Queen Elizabeth II – the new uncouped Jody Clark version.

Following last years Voc Batavia design, the Vergulde Draeck doesn’t stray very far from the ethos the 2019 coin put in place. The reverse face depicts the ship in profile, surrounded by many faux heraldic elements, including a pair of facing Merlions. The designer of the first coin, Adam Ball, has found his stride straight away and this looks really good. The signature upside-down title, composition and date inscriptions are still present also. The obverse is excellent, in our view, better than last years, which was neat enough. There’s little mistaking what is being depicted here and it gets across well the drama of a shipwreck 350 years ago. Images of the wreck and its treasure along the bottom are a great touch, especially as there were eight boxes of silver guilders on board when she went down.

The same two one-ounce formats are here again. A 0.999 silver coin with a 20,000 mintage, and a 0.9999 gold variant, of which just 250 will be struck. Both should be available from Hong Kong based dealer, LPM Group later today, and no doubt from dealers that stocked the first one. A very nice release and a series we hope continues.


On the morning of 28 April 1656, a VOC ship called the Vergulde Draeck, travelling towards Batavia (now Jakarta) with a load of trade goods, coins, cargo, passengers and crew, struck an uncharted reef off the coast of Western Australia. The reef gutted the ship and only 75 of the crew survived, along with a small quantity of provisions and a single boat.

The under steersman, Abraham Leeman, took the boat and six crew on an astonishing and gruelling journey to Batavia and reported the wreck. Several attempts were made to rescue the survivors, but they were never located. The wreck of the Vergulde Draeck was discovered in 1963 and was excavated in 1972. Some 19,000 coins were recovered, mainly Spanish reals and some Japanese silver coins. The mystery of what became of the survivors of the Vergulde Draeck has never been answered. This was one of the most enigmatic episodes of Australia’s maritime history

DENOMINATION $1 Australia $100 Australia
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 33.9 mm 33.9 mm
FINISH Bullion Bullion
MINTAGE 20,000 250
BOX / C.O.A. No / No No / Yes