Most of the major mints have a silver coin format that could almost be described as a baseline signature. The Perth Mint has its coloured 40.6mm/31.1g format, the Royal Mint its 38.6mm/28.28g sterling silver, and the Mint of Poland, issuer of this series, a 38.6mm/17.5g coloured format. This latest range to wrap up from the Mint of Poland is one such. Called S.O.S. Endangered Animal Species, the range consists of ten coins in total, each depicting one of the myriad number of animals that are in danger of disappearing largely due to the actions of mankind.

The first coin debuted back in December 2013 with the Hyacinth Macaw on the reverse side, and the tenth coin launched in February 2015 adorned with the Blue Whale. Each of the ten coins carries a coloured depiction of the subject animal set in a clean struck background. Also struck into the reverse face is a small curve-walled rectangle containing a map of the world. Inside this is a small representation of a magnifying glass placed over the region the subject animal originates from, inset into which is a coloured Swarovski crystal, we believe from their Elements range. These inset crystals can be quite disruptive to a good design and they only work when applied in moderation and with care. That’s certainly the case here and most will agree that the crystal doesn’t detract from the overall design at all.

The obverse of the first coin featured a tree of life similar to that in Norse mythology, containing small silhouettes of the ten animals to appear in the series. The Queen’s effigy, compulsory on Niue issued coins, was miniaturised and placed at the top. It was a great design, but lasted just one coin before being replaced by the standard full-sized effigy. We’re not sure why and haven’t been given an answer to questions about it, but it’s likely the size of the Queens effigy may have been a bit small for someone high up. How the design passed the strict approval process in the first place will remain a mystery, but the series lost a little character when the original obverse was replaced.

Each coin comes beautifully packaged in a colourful shipper enclosing a quality cylindrical box. These are individually coloured, some a little too gaudily for my taste, but they do look the part overall and we’ve added images of each for your perusal. There is a collectors box that holds all ten coins on two levels, but good luck tracking one down. Available at many coin dealers worldwide, the Royal Canadian Mint is also now offering them on a subscription basis, although as all the coins are readily available, we’re not quite sure why you’d have to wait until October for the first release. We’re fans of these coins. Unpretentious, interesting, and hanging together well as a series, they’re as equally suited to giving a single coin as a gift, as they are to a collector building a set.


In the centre a tree with images representing animals, which are themes of the coins of the series. Above, a miniature profile picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the mint mark (m/w). Along the rim, inscriptions: ELIZABETH II, NIUE ISLAND (the issuer),  1 DOLLAR (the face value), 2014 (the year of issue), Ag 999 (the hallmark).


In the central part of the coin – effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Below – inscriptions: Ag 999 (hallmark) and m/w (the mint mark). Along the rim are the inscriptions: ELIZABETH II, NIUE ISLAND (issuer), 1 DOLLAR (face value), 2015 (year of issue).


Looks like a nice box, but we’ve only seen it in one place and now it’s gone from there. Will certainly make a nice place to consolidate the set given the size of the original packaging, but why it’s so hard to buy is a bit of a mystery.


WEIGHT 17.5 g
SIZE 38.61 mm
MINTAGE 2,014 (1-9) 2,015 (10)
DESIGNER UNKNOWN (3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10)

2016 COINS

Despite initial indications that this would be a self-contained set issued over a year, the mint has continued to release the ocassional coin to keep the series alive. At the time of writing there have been two issues, the Asian Elephant and the Pygmy Hippopotamus. Whether they continue to add coins to the series through 2017 we’ve yet to confirm, but if the series is popular enough to warrant twelve releases in such a short space of time, we’d assume the odds are good.

The only real change to the new coins is the dumping of the cylindrical packaging for the mints more usual rectangular boxes. It’s actually a good change in our book as these boxes are of a decent quality, although they’re not themed like the originals. Mintage of the Asian Elephant coin was set at 2015, but the Pygmy Hippo is back down at just 999, perhaps the new level.