Project Description

TOKELAU SEALIFE (2014) by Highland Mint

A twelve-coin bullion series that issues a single design every year, Tokelau Sealife debuted in 2014 to a mixed reception. Buyers seemed to like the design, but there were soon comments regarding the quality of the prooflike coin circulating around the forums. This resulted in a change to a satin finish, seen as a way of minimising the look of flaws. Fortunately, the series quality picked up rapidly, keeping the satin finish until 2020, and while these are not struck to the same standard as a Perth Mint bullion coin, for example, they’re perfectly fine these days.

Fortunately, the series, which looks at sealife around the Oceanic island nation Tokelau, has a solid artistic foundation, with each of the issues to date showing a fine grasp of the subjects anatomy and habitat. Indeed, many would make good proof coins. Initially the brainchild of Perth-based producer, Treasures of O (TOZ), the silver coins are struck in the US, identified by TOZ as the biggest market for the coin, at the Highland Mint. It seems that the project is now fully handled by the latter company.

Just a single format makes up the series, and it’s the classic one-ounce fine silver one. There was a half-ounce variant of the Yellowfin Tuna coin with a 250k mintage, but that was the only one to appear, and we’re not expecting it to return. Treasures of Oz also produced 0.5 gram minigold proof variants of the first two designs as well, a format they do have a lot of experience with, but again, they haven’t continued. As for mintages of the main attraction, after an initial 500,000 units, we’ve seen a rapid decline as the overall market has changed. The producer is to be commended for adapting so quickly to the market. We now sit at 10,000 units, which is far more realistic.

The latest release at the time of writing, has changed from the satin finish to a prooflike one, with a mirror background field and a different style. As this is the seventh to appear, we’re going to assume that the final six coins will have this new style, but we’ll find out next year when the 2021 coin is revealed. Overall, a decent series with some fine designs within. Not a top-tier strike, but certainly worthy of collection.

2014 KAKAHI YELLOWFIN TUNA

The first issue, and the one that initially had quality issues. A nice design with a view of a fish not often seen on a coin as the perspective is hard to do well. No such problems here. Treasures of Oz, who launched this series, also produced a minigold 0.5 gram proof version, which does a surprisingly good job at maintaining the detail on the much reduced 11 mm diameter canvas. A half-ounce silver version with a 250k mintage also appeared the following year, but the size was not continued into future issues.

MINTAGE: 500,000

2015 MOKOHA GREAT WHITE SHARK

Another good design, while it lacks the flora that formed the background to the first coin, the use of a shoal of fish is far more sensible when we’re talking about a 1000 kg of missile-shaped killing machine. Quality seemed to be a bit more consistent with this coin, although not up to Perth Mint standards, for example. Again, Treasures of Oz issued a minigold variant, and again, it does a great job shrinking down the image with no noticeable loss of detail.

MINTAGE: 500,000

2016 HAKULA SAILFISH

A step up in detail and quality for the third issue. There’s a lot of dynamism on show here, while maintaining a sound natural look to the fish. Easily superior to the first two, the drop in mintage to half that of the initial pair may help explain that. It seems at this point that Treasures of Oz lost interest in continuing with the minigold.

MINTAGE: 250,000

2017 KAPUA BARRACUDA

Keeping much of the enhanced level of detail, the Barracuda is superbly depicted here. It’s clear by this point, irrespective of quality concerns early one, that artistically, there’s little to complain about here regarding the use of perspective and the anatomical accuracy of the subjects.

MINTAGE: 250,000

2018 MAGO-TAGUTA LEOPARD SHARK

For the fifth issue, we’re back with the sharks – this time a smaller and lesser known species from the usual coin favourites. The undersea flora is back again, reflecting the different behaviour of the Leopard Shark compared to the Great White. We’ve seen a few colourised versions of this coin doing the rounds, as we have some of the others, but we’re not fans of the idea unless they’re official issues. They aren’t. Besides, the clean version looks great.

MINTAGE: 250,000

2019 FONU LOGGERHEAD TURTLE

Obviously, the first thing you will have noticed is the change in mintage. Eschewing the fight with the big guns, it takes the much more sensible approach of mixing it up with the low mintage crowd. It’s eminently more suited to that market. The Loggerhead Turtle is the only non-fish entrant in the series to date, but a welcome change given the series is dubbed ‘Sealife’ and not ‘Fish’ We’ve said this multiple times already, but the subject here is very well realised, exhibiting a natural pose and excellent anatomy.

MINTAGE: 20,000

2020 HAHAVE FLYING FISH

The reduction in mintage for the 2020 issue makes this altogether more attractive, but the first issue in the second half of the series has some fundamental artistic changes that we’re of mixed mind about. The obverse is an improvement, with much more detail inherent in the new patterned geometric border. The reverse, however, is a retrograde step in our view. The ‘net’ background and the overlaid text inscriptions have conspired to form a confusing mess that jars when compared with previous designs. The fish themselves seem well done and on point for the series style, but combined with the new prooflike finish, make this a definite step back in artistic design for us. Too busy.

MINTAGE: 10,000

COMMON OBVERSE

As we’ve noted above, the obverse here is common to the first six silver issues only, while the minigold one was used on both of the only issues in that format. The seventh silver coin debuted a new obverse that we’ll assume is going to be standard moving forward.

The obverse is a standard Tokelau design, carrying both the Queens effigy (Ian Rank Broadley version) and the Tokalau Tuluma symbol. The Tuluma is a wooden tackle box used by native fisherman. The inscription “Tokelau mot e Atua” meaning “Tokelau for God,” sits just underneath it.

SPECIFICATION

TOKELAU SEALIFE SERIES
COIN RANGE 2014-2020 2014 ONLY
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Tokelau) $2 NZD (Tokelau)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 15.55 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.61 mm 30.0 mm
FINISH Uncirculated Uncirculated
MINTAGE 10,000 to 500,000 250,000
HIGHLAND MINT