Seen throughout the world as a predominantly American conflict, the Vietnam War also drew in several other Allied nations in the fight against the Communist North. In those countries, the war proved to be as divisive as it did in the USA, nowhere more so than Australia. During the course of a ten-year period, in excess of 60,000 Australians fought in this South-East Asian war, over 500 of them losing their lives while doing so. Next year sees the 40th anniversary of Prime Minister John Gorton’s statement that Australian involvement in the war would cease.
Downies are issuing a 500 mintage four-piece set of silver coins to mark the beginning of the end of Australia’s participation in this hugely controversial war. Each one weighs a troy ounce of fine 0.999 silver and depicts Australian forces in various operations. Two of the designs feature the land war, one air combat, and one naval forces. All have a common obverse, and as they’re issued for Niue, it’s the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth II surrounded by the inscribed coin information.
Apart from some colour highlights to flags at the top of the coins, the designs remain cleanly struck and free of distraction. Each is quite sparse with regards to backgrounds, a wise choice given the loose mix of elements depicted. All of the designs are top notch, in our view. It’s often the case with aircraft and ships on coins that perspective takes a back seat to artistic licence, but all of the equipment depicted on these four coins looks spot on, with the human figures showing an equal level of competence. The naval issue is a favourite. The guided-missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane is the main focus, with the old Majestic-class carrier HMAS Sydney (nicknamed the Vung Tau Ferry because of her 25 voyages filled with men and materiel) in the rear. The former in particular, is exceptionally well realised.
The four coins are only sold as a set and come very nicely presented in a gloss black box. This will hold a large certificate of authenticity packed with more information on the coins, and it all comes inside a lightly themed shipper box. All told, this looks to be very appealing to the military coin collector. There isn’t a whole lot of Vietnam War coins to choose from, but even if there were, this would likely rank very high on the list. Available to order now, it sells for just shy of $500 AUD.