It was CIT Coin Invest that pioneered the use of laser-cutting apertures in coins with the quite superb award-winning Mongolian Nature coin back in 2013. It’s surprising that the technique hasn’t been employed on a wider basis, although we understand that doing it well is harder than it looks. The NZ Post had a Kiwi issue three years ago, and that was struck/cut by BH Mayer – the same mint responsible for bringing the CIT productions to reality.
We first saw images of the debut African series when they carried a 2017 date, but they seemed to have been revised and enhanced before issue and when released, carried a 2018 date. These are 1oz silver coins that reach out to an impressive 45mm in diameter, no doubt helped by the hole. They’re cleanly struck to a proof finish, and each one depicts an animal from the continental subject of each eight-coin series. The coins are high-relief, although not to the extreme level seen on some other series. That’s fine however, as we seriously doubt that an ultra-high relief strike would work well with an aperture through the middle.
There have been three series released to date, including the brand new American set launched just in time for ANA19. Africa came first and was an intelligent selection, not just focusing on the ‘Big 5’ as is so often the case. A series coin is included and is the only one each year to eschew the aperture, using a polygonal coloured representation of the continent instead, surrounded by silhouetted depictions of the animals on the other seven coins. Australia in 2019 and America for 2020 have followed, and offer equally good selections of subjects. We like the Australian set particularly, but that’s more because the actual homicidal fauna there is so interesting, rather than any inherent superiority in the coins here.
The obverse design varies for each series, because, in a very neat touch, each is issued for a country on that years continent. The Republic of Djibouti for Africa, the Solomon Islands for Australia, and Barbados for America. The first series had a clean background field, but since then, a web-like pattern has occupied that space. All told, this is a neat series, and one of the few of its type being released today. If they remain popular enough, we could see some more unusual animals appearing from Antarctica, Europe, Asia or South America.