Quite the surprise on its debut, the Royal Australian Mint’s new Australian Shipwrecks bullion coin featured a couple of design choices not normally associated with this traditionally conservativbe mint. Quite apart from the fact the RAM had only recently jumped into the bullion market with both feet, after years of just dabbling, the choice of a triangular format was a brave one. The first time we’ve seen a triangular denominated bullion coin from anyone, that alone gives this series some kudos amongst collectors.
The theme of the range revolves around the many historical ships that have come to grief around the waters off the Australian continent. Countless vessels from the European colonial powers ended their voyages on the local sea bed, often with some astounding stories of bravery and/or horror. It’s a superb idea for a bullion series, especially from the Australasian producers who tend to head to the local wildlife for inspiration. The reverse face is interesting in that it is designed to be looked at in two ways. Went turned one way, the inscriptions are the correct way up to be read, and the ship is portrayed as sinking beneath the waves. Turned up the other way, the ship is depicted under full sail on the surface of the sea. Not something done with great intricacy, of course, it does remain a neat touch, however.
The second unusual aspect of this coin series concerns the obverse. It’s very rare indeed for the RAM to have anything other than the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on it, but for this series, each issue carries a fully customised piece of art related to the theme, with the effigy integrated into it. These are also packed with fine detail, so we’re not just talking about a simple patterned border here. The end result is each coin is quite unique and it’s rare you can say that in the bullion market these days.
Two formats are available, both a troy ounce in weight. The 0.999 silver coin has a pretty tight mintage of 20,000 units, while the gold is
positively rare at just 250 pieces. Both are provided encapsulated, so you don’t have to tear your hair out trying to find a capsule for them at least. A new addition is the release of an antiqued silver version of each design, just the first being available at the time of writing. They look great and a mintage of just 1,000 pieces has to be appealing to admirers of the series.
Sadly, Australian Shipwrecks is to be capped at four issues. The series is exclusively distributed by LPM, a Hong Kong based bullion dealer with a good history of exclusive low mintage bullion coin releases. A very cool set of coins with a format we hope is at least revisied by the mint in another form in the future.