New eight-coin Ghanaian bullion series, Giants of the Ice Age, launches with the Woolly Mammoth

In amongst all the new annual bullion coin updates we expect at this time of the year, there’s a great selection of new issues to tempt collectors and stackers to part with their money. Nature and wildlife probably constitutes the most popular subject these days, and we see everything from prehistoric animals, as on the South African Mint’s pretty new series, to a wide range of modern wildlife from all the world’s continents.

Tucking neatly into that timeline is Auragentum’s new eight coin series to be issued at the rate of two per year. Fixing on the Pleistocene period, it covers a time when the dinosaurs were long gone, and humanity was developing into the selfie-loving masses it is today. While the true behemoths that characterised the age of the dinosaurs are absent, there were some impressive beasts roaming around – certainly the sort of thing caveman Ugg and his cousin Ooga wouldn’t want to bump into in the dead of night…

First subject of the eight is the Woolly Mammoth. A good choice as it’s no doubt the most instantly recognisable beast from the era, due to the plethora of incredible finds thawing out from the Northern permafrost. It’s hard to believe that the Great Pyramid in Egypt was old when these creatures were still wandering around. A neat design, it depicts the mammoth in almost full body form, against a tundra backdrop. The border carries silhouettes of the eight series subjects, with the current one struck to a polished finish, The obverse features the emblem of Ghana, along with the denomination.

There are three versions on offer. A proof finish 1oz gold coin and an uncirculated finish 1kg 0.999 silver are the rarer variants, with both topping out at 1,000 pieces. The serial number is engraved on the reverse face of these two, and while both come with a certificate of authenticity, only the gold is boxed. Of more interest to us mere mortals, the 1oz silver coin, also with an uncirculated finish, has a mintage of 15,000 and is supplied encapsulated. All versions of this neat coin can be purchased now. A great choice of subject for a bullion series, and we eagerly await the next design.


The woolly mammoth lived during the Pleistocene until its extinction in the early Holocene epoch. It was one of the last in a line of mammoth species, and its closest extant relative is the Asian elephant. The appearance and behaviour of this species are among the best studied of any prehistoric animal because of the discovery of frozen carcasses in Siberia and Alaska, as well as skeletons, teeth, stomach contents, dung, and depiction from life in prehistoric cave paintings. Mammoth remains had long been known in Asia before they became known to Europeans in the 17th century. The origin of these remains was long a matter of debate, and often explained as being remains of legendary creatures. The mammoth was identified as an extinct species of elephant by Georges Cuvier in 1796.

The woolly mammoth was roughly the same size as modern African elephants. Males reached shoulder heights between 2.7 and 3.4 m and weighed up to 6 metric tons. Females reached 2.6–2.9 m in shoulder height and weighed up to 4 metric tons. A newborn calf weighed about 90 kg. It was well adapted to the cold environment during the last ice age. It was covered in fur, with an outer covering of long guard hairs and a shorter undercoat, the colour of the coat varying from dark to light. The ears and tail were short to minimise frostbite and heat loss. It had long, curved tusks and four molars, which were replaced six times during the lifetime of an individual. Its behaviour was similar to that of modern elephants, and it used its tusks and trunk for manipulating objects, fighting, and foraging. The diet of the woolly mammoth was mainly grasses and sedges. Individuals could probably reach the age of 60. Its habitat was the mammoth steppe, which stretched across northern Eurasia and North America.

The woolly mammoth coexisted with early humans, who used its bones and tusks for making art, tools, and dwellings, and the species was also hunted for food. It disappeared from its mainland range at the end of the Pleistocene 10,000 years ago, most likely through climate change and consequent shrinkage of its habitat, hunting by humans, or a combination of the two. Isolated populations survived on St. Paul Island until 5,600 years ago and on Wrangel Island until 4,000 years ago. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

DENOMINATION 500 Cedis 1000 Cedis 5 Cedis
COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 1000.0 grams 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.6 mm 100.0 mm 38.6 mm
FINISH Proof B/Unc B/Unc
MINTAGE 1,000 1,000 15,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes No / Yes No / No