Australia at Night from Downies debuts on a black proof coin with the strange Platypus

Australian wildlife coins are nothing new, particularly silver ones, but there’s always room for something well done and a little different. We think Downies latest issue fits that bill perfectly. Australia has a quite extraordinary range of species found nowhere elese on Earth, perhaps none more so than the strange platypus. Hardly a rare subject on coins from the region, this one is easily one of the best to date.

Finished in black proof, much like several recent CIT issues, the coin depicts a silver platypus in an aquatic black proof background. The design is quite beautiful and does a great job of showing the platypus in its natural habitat. There are inscriptions present, but they’re kept off the main artwork and placed near the rim in negative space.

The obverse mirrors the look of the reverse face with regards to finish. The effigy of Queen Elizabeth is also kept in clean silver, with the rest of the coin finished as black proof. The coin is struck from one-ounce of fine silver and is issued for Niue. Packaging looks very nice with a coloured outer shipper holding a gloss-black coin box that seems quite appropriate for the subject. A certificate of authenticity is included for each of the 1,000 being minted.

Available from Downies Australia and selling for $169 AUD, this looks to be a fine example of the genre, if not a particularly cheap one. It looks like it’s the first in a series, so one worth keeping an eye on if this first coin is an indicator of the quality on offer. Available to order now from Downies and others like our sponsor Powercoin.


THE PLATYPUS (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Thought to be a hoax when first described, the Platypus is one of those animals that you have to see to believe. It’s a monotreme mammal – a member of the most ancient living order of mammals and an egg-layer. Found in the waterways of Eastern Australia, it feeds on invertebrates that live on the bottom, using its unusual flattened beak to dig into the sediment to find food. They do also take the odd frog or fish, aided by being powerful swimmers.

The platypus has a sophisticated electromechanical system that can detect the tiny electrical signals that are generated when a prey animal flexes its muscles. All of this is necessary because the platypus needs to eat around 20% of its body weight in food every day and hunts for around 12 hours to do so. It has been spotted in the sea, but its electromechanical organs only work in freshwater, so feeds there.

Ranging in size from 38-60 cm in length, with males generally larger than females, the platypus has a signature feature quite unlike any other mammal.  The bill is a true sensory organ, housing space for the nostrils, ears and eyes – quite unlike birds. They have dense waterproof brown fur which feels like that of a mole (for all those that have stroked a mole…). They tend to weigh between 0.7-2.4 kg.

The platypus also has the distinction of being the only venomous mammal. The male carries ankle spurs that can deliver a potent venom quite able to kill smaller animals, and to cause intense pain in humans. Despite this, they are predated on by some snakes, hawks, goannas, etc. A quite fascinating animal and one inextricably linked with Australia.

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.103 grams
BOX / COA Yes / Yes