WORLD’S WILDLIFE (2019) by Emporium Hamburg

There’s certainly been an uptick in the number of wildlife-themed bullion series issued for African nations over the last decade. Everything from prehistoric life to all the ecosystems of the world today. Emporium Hamburg have been at the forefront of that with their hugely popular Somali Elephant (African Ounce) bullion range that’s well into double figure releases now, and more recent offerings like Prehistoric Life, itself getting a second series.

In 2019, they added World’s Wildlife to the mix, a series issued for the Democratic Republic of Congo. The aim here isn’t to focus on a specific class or species of animal, but rather to throw a wide net over some of the most popular and recognisable of the world’s major species. The first three coins highlight that approach with the Giraffe, the Whale and the Bald Eagle.

The range is cored around the classic one-ounce gold and one-ounce silver, both at 0.9999 fineness. Mintages are relatively low. In addition, there are a pair of modded silver versions. The gilded is quite subtle, just picking out the title and the animal for treatment, as well as the mini-map that changes to suit each subject. By comparison, the coloured coin is a total cover job and a little heavy-handed. We know they have their fans, however, so the inclusion is welcome for the wider market. Classic fans have their options as well.

As well as the bullion coins, there’s a range of proof variants, which we’ll cover in depth in a separate Coin Series Profile. In summary, there’s a very low mintage five-ounce gold, a neat 0.5 gram minigold, and a set of four with three fractionals in it. The best part is that the fractionals each have a unique design (the minigold shares one of them), and some are superb. A really nice series overall, and one that deserves wider exposure in a crammed marketplace.

2019 GIRAFFE

SILVER

GILDED SILVER

COLOURED SILVER

GOLD

The first in the series was the one that first drew our attention to it as something a bit different. The depiction of the Giraffe is quite unusual and extremely well done. Normally, this animal is shown standing around looking sedate and dopey, but this view of the creature running hard into a turn is both unexpected and neat.

A quite spectacular animal, the Giraffe is the world’s tallest at well over 5.5 metres in height. They also have an 45 cm tongue! Despite their ungainly appearance, they are capable of running at 60 km/h, even maintaining 50 km/h for several kilometres. The coin does a great job of showing that.

2020 THE WHALE

SILVER

GILDED SILVER

COLOURED SILVER

GOLD

Another cool design showing an iconic animal engaging in iconic behaviour. There are few more spectacular sights than a Humpback Whale breaching the surface, and the coin artist has done a great job showing that off, especially given the size of the canvas they had to work with.

While the coin doesn’t specifically state it’s a Humpback Whale, that’s almost certainly the case. Breaching isn’t a universal act for whales – the Blue Whale rarely does it, for example – and most whale watching is centred around this playful animal. It doesn’t reach the sheer size of a Blue, but the Humpback can exceed 40 tonnes in weight. Thankfully, we treat them better these days, although some backwards countries still allow hunting.

2021 THE BALD EAGLE

SILVER

GILDED SILVER

COLOURED SILVER

GOLD

Made famous by its association with the United States, the Bald Eagle is a beautiful predatory bird named after its white head plumage. The bald means ‘piebald’ not actual ‘bald’ (think Leslie Nielsen rather than Telly Savalas…). Adorning many US coins, and a few Canadian, the bird is an icon of the numismatic world.

This one has a fair bit to live up to, then. It’s actually a pretty nice design, especially for a bullion coin. Completely eschewing the heraldic look for an eagle in its natural habitat, it fits in well with the style of the previous two issues, showing actual behaviour rather than just a portrait.

2022 THE BEAR

SILVER

GILDED SILVER

COLOURED SILVER

GOLD

One of the most potent terrestrial predators on the planet, the Grizzly Bear is a giant in its environment, deserving of much respect. Adult males can reach 550 kg in weight, especially those feeding primarily on salmon, and in excess of 2 metres in length. They inhabit much of the Northern Hemisphere, and have an omnivorous diet, eating everything from berries to caribou.

The bear is no stranger to the modern coin world, but rare in bullion, so we’re fortunate that Emporium Hamburg has done so a good job with the depiction here. The habitat in the background is well-chosen, and the bear is anatomically first-class, the pose a perfect encapsulation of our idea of this animal.

2023 OCEAN RAYS

SILVER

GILDED SILVER

COLOURED SILVER

GOLD

Ocean rays, also known as marine rays, are a fascinating group of cartilaginous fishes that inhabit the world’s oceans. They are closely related to sharks and belong to the same class, Elasmobranchii. Ocean rays are known for their flattened bodies, which are perfectly adapted for life on the seabed. They possess broad pectoral fins that resemble wings, enabling them to gracefully glide through the water. These rays come in a variety of sizes, from the relatively small butterfly rays to the enormous manta rays, which can reach widths of up to 23 feet. They have a unique reproductive strategy called ovoviviparity, in which the embryos develop inside the mother’s body until they are ready to be born.

Ocean rays are typically bottom-dwellers, spending much of their time on sandy or muddy ocean floors. They possess specialized mouthparts designed for feeding on a wide range of prey, including molluscs, crustaceans, and small fish. Some species, such as the manta rays, are filter feeders, consuming large quantities of plankton by swimming with their mouths open.

These captivating creatures are not only ecologically important, but also hold cultural significance in many coastal communities. However, like many marine species, ocean rays face numerous threats, including habitat degradation, pollution, and overfishing. Efforts to protect and conserve these graceful creatures are crucial to ensuring their survival in the face of these challenges.

2024 THE PEREGRINE FALCON

SILVER

GILDED SILVER

COLOURED SILVER

GOLD

Few animals reach the legendary status of the Peregrine Falcon, and for good reason. This crow-sized raptor is fast – as in really fast. Peregrines hunt using a high-speed dive, and they regularly exceed 320 km/h (200mph) when doing so, with one having been timed at 389 km/h. It isn’t much of a stretch to believe that 400 km/h is within reach. In addition, it’s also found in more places on Earth than any other raptor, indeed, more than any other bird except the pigeon, which is a prey item for it.

While they hunt small mammals and reptiles, they primarily feed on birds. In North America, they take anything from 3 gram hummingbirds, to 3,100 gram Sandhill Cranes, although 20-1,100 grams is the usual range. They mate for life, and after a concerning period when they suffered from the use of pesticides like DDT, they are now recovered and found in all their old habitats. There are 19 subspecies currently recognised.

COMMON OBVERSE

SILVER 2024+

GOLD 2024+

In a typical Congo obverse there’s a border that holds the inscribed issuing country, and the denomination of 20 Francs, although in this case, the coin composition is also inscribed here. The coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one that has changed quite a few times, with the latest version having its origins in 2006 under the rule of President Joseph Kabila.

It depicts a leopard head, surrounded by an elephant tusk to the left and a spear to the right. Below are the three words which make up the national motto: Justice, Paix, Travail (Justice, Peace, Work in French).

SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION 20 Francs (Congo) 20 Francs (Congo) 20 Francs (Congo) 100 Francs (Congo)
COMPOSITION 0.9999 silver 0.9999 silver 0.9999 silver 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 31.1 grams 31.1 grams 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.6 mm 38.6mm 38.6 mm 38.6 mm
FINISH B/Uncirculated B/Uncirculated B/Uncirculated B/Uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS None None None None
MINTAGE 30,000 5,000 5,000 1,000
BOX / C.O.A. No / No No / No No / No No / No