Domed coins have been a big hit over the last few years as the ability to strike them to a high standard has spread from the Monnaie de Paris to other mints. One of the first to embrace the format was the Royal Australian Mint back in 2012 with a space coin depicting the constellation Crux, with a new coin was released annually, Pavo in 2013 and Orion in 2014. Such was the popularity of this ‘Southern Sky’ series that the mint launched a new three-coin series called ‘Northern Sky’ last year. First off the starting block was Cassiopeia, a coin of fundamentally the same design, but with a few tweaks.

Where previously the centre of the coin was completely filled with a really brightly coloured depiction of the constellation, Cassiopeia had more muted colours and a clean struck crescent tree-line to enhance the sense of realism; less clinical than the design previously employed. Some preffered it, some didn’t but both are great designs.The second coin features Ursa Major, also called the Great Bear. It’s the third largest of the 88 modern constellations and is home to I Zwicky 18, the youngest known galaxy in the visible universe.

The design is exactly as collectors of the series would expect. The tree line of Cassiopeia has been replaced with a mountain line, but the effect is the same. Colour is well chosen and not overdone, and all fits the popular series very well. Packaging remains the new RAM style box, the Southern Sky series being presented in a tin. Price is $120.00 AUD ($109.09 for non-Aus buyers). The mintage also stays at 5,000 pieces, half that of Southern Sky.

We like these a lot. As the Monnaie de Paris proved with its first domed strike back in 2009, the shape fits the subject of astronomy perfectly. With well-chosen subject matter, domed coins can look quite superb, and we’ve been treated to some fine ones in the last few years like the US Mints Baseball coin and several superb meteorite and volcano designs. Available to pre-order now, the coin will ship from 04 July. Quite a few dealers will stock these outside of the RAM’s own store. The European distributor is German dealer, EMK who should have it up shortly.

COIN AND PACKAGING

MINTS DESCRIPTION

Following the sell-out release of the domed coin paying tribute to the Greek mythological story of Cassiopeia, the Northern Sky series continues with this tribute to one of the world’s most famous constellations. With the same combination of colour printing, fine silver and the innovative dome shape, it will capture the imagination of coin collectors and astronomy buffs in the same way that the constellation has won the hearts of stargazers for centuries.

Those who gaze at the stars in the northern celestial hemisphere are treated year-round to the sight of one of the world’s most famous constellations. Ursa Major Latin for ‘the larger/greater she-bear’) has been a key feature of astronomy, navigation and folklore since its declaration by Ptolemy in the Second Century AD.

REVERSE: A central circle containing a coloured representation of a star chart including a stylised representation of a field of stars, 3 right ascension lines and 2 declination lines. Superimposed on the star chart is a stylised representation of the constellation Ursa Major. The design includes a stylised representation of a mountain landsacpe. Surrounding the central circle is an ornamental border. The design also includes the inscriptions ‘+40°’, ‘+60°’, ‘13h’, ‘11h’, ‘9h’, ‘NORTHERN SKY – URSA MAJOR’ and ‘FIVE DOLLARS’.

OBVERSE: An effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appears on the obverse side of the coin together with the inscriptions ‘ELIZABETH II’, ‘AUSTRALIA’ and the inscription, in numerals, of a year. The obverse design includes the initials of the designer Ian Rank-Broadley ‘IRB’.

OBVERSE AND EDGE

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
$5 AUD 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 39.62 mm PROOF  5,000 YES / YES

MINT LINK

THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT