With the trend for different designs on bullion coins continuing apace, accelerated perhaps by the rising price of precious metals as we write, we’re seeing a variety on offer that is greater than ever. Best of all, there is a greater appetite for risk, with styles and subjects that would normally be considered too out of the mainstream, getting a shot. On of those is the APMEX-distributed Mandala Wildlife.
Dipping it’s toes into both the wildlife and the cultural genres, the series takes a simple depiction of, to date at least, a large African mammal. In place of skin or fur, the animal is covered by the geometric patterns associated with the Asian mandala style of art. Rather than just overlay a flat pattern – the easy way out – the artist has taken the time to contour the lines around the body in a reasonably realistic way. The end result is pretty clever, different and quite attractive.
It isn’t all plus points for me, however, because of the choices made regarding placement of inscriptions. There are three of them describing the coin composition on the main face (0.999 twice, and textual). The denomination is prominent at the top of this reverse face also, but is also equally visible on the obverse. Placing the composition unobtrusively at the bottom of the reverse face in a small font, would not only clean up the reverse face, but allow more space for the animal depiction to be enlarged. Strange choices indeed, but minor ones. The core concept and execution is still well done.
The common obverse depicts the beautiful coat of arms of the Republic of Chad. The emblem actually suits the subject matter very well and does a great job of filling the face. The date is inscribed on this face, which given its a common obverse that otherwise would not need new die designs every issue, seems unusual, but that’s hardly a criticism, just a note.
Just one ounce gold (0.9999) and one ounce silver (0.999) formats are on offer, which makes perfect sense given their popularity. Now four issues old, this is turning into an eclectic series that stands out for its unique take on a popular subject. With mintages of just 10,000 for the silver (the Lion was 15k) and only 100 for the gold, it also has relative rarity on its side, adding to the appeal. The series is exclusive to US-based megadealer APMEX, who appear to have little trouble selling out the mintage of every issue, and to whom we owe thanks for the supply of the higher-resolution images you see below, however, other dealers like LPM also stock it.