Over 65 millennia in age, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia are thought to be the oldest astronomers in the world, certainly the oldest still continuing today. SInce the earliest times, mankind has sought meaning in the stars, associating objects and natural life with patterns they have seen in the skies above. The Royal Australian Mint has taken the legends of the continents most ancient people as inspiration for its new half-ounce silver coin series, Star Dreaming.
Artist Scott Towney has produced an attractive, and very Australian design for one of the most popular of the old constellations – “Emu in the Sky”. This is an unusual one, in that unlike the usual practice of outlining the animal shape with imaginery lines between prominent stars, the Emu is defined by using nebulae. The Coalsack Nebula next to the Southern Cross lends its darkened visage for the birds head, with clouds trailing out from the Milky Way to the constellation of Scorpius supplying its body and legs.
Amazingly, in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, there are extensive engravings in rock faces that depict the emu in the same pose as the constellation, in this case as the emu-wife of the creator-hero Daramulan. The coin has a great ‘tribal-style’ depiction of the emu flooting serenely across a coloured southern starscape. The cleanly struck part of the reverse face sticks with reality, with a nesting emu at the bottom and three Aborigines with arms spread wide, to the right of it. The way this artwork curves around the coin forming a mild fisheye-lens look is pretty impresisve.
As an Australian coin, the obligatory effigy of Queen Elizabeth II sits on the obverse. The coin is boxed in one of the RAM’s standard, but neat, offerings, and there’s a Certificate of Authenticity for each of the 5,000 minted. We’re quite surprised with this one. A great subject for a series and a fine realisation of it. Available now, although tagged for Australian buyers only, it has an r.r.p. of $70.00 AUD.