Tyler Robinson - January, 9th 2024
The Perth Mint: A history of Gold & Silver Bullion
The Perth Mint, founded in 1896 and opening its doors in 1899, is an institution steeped in the rich gold history of Western Australia. Initially established as a branch of the Royal Mint in London, it was designed by the renowned architect George Temple-Poole and stands today as an impressive and historic structure. Its primary role was to refine gold from Western Australia's gold rushes and to mint gold sovereigns and half-sovereigns for the British Empire.
From 1899 to 1931, the Perth Mint produced over 106 million gold sovereigns and nearly 735,000 half sovereigns, which circulated throughout Australia and the British Empire. This production era ceased when Britain abandoned the gold standard in 1931. However, the mint's refinery remained active, focusing on producing fine gold bullion bars.
During World War II, the mint played a crucial role in supporting the country's economy by minting copper coins, including pennies and half pennies, featuring designs of kangaroos and the effigies of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. Notably, the Perth Mint is the longest continuously operating mint in Australia, with the Melbourne and Sydney Mints having ceased operations.
In the modern era, the Perth Mint has significantly expanded its operations. In 2003, it opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and, in 2011, created the world's largest, heaviest, and most valuable gold coin, breaking a record previously held by the Royal Canadian Mint. This coin, valued at over A$53 million, features Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a red kangaroo on the other.
Today, the Perth Mint plays a vital role in refining approximately 79 percent of Australasia's gold and 30 percent of its silver. It produces a range of numismatic items for investors and coin collectors, including proof quality Australian Nugget gold coins, Platinum Koala coins, and Australian Silver Kookaburra coins. The mint's influence extends globally, accounting for 10 percent of the world's gold production.
The Perth Mint's journey from its origins in the late 19th century to its status today as a key player in the global precious metals market reflects its enduring legacy and contribution to both the Australian and international economies.
Every year, a fresh Kangaroo image is added to the coin's design, increasing its numismatic value above and beyond its inherent bullion value.
The Australian Gold Nugget Coins (Gold Kangaroos)
The Australian Gold Nugget, also known as the Gold Kangaroo, is a series of gold bullion coins minted by the Perth Mint. Introduced in 1986 by Gold Corporation, a company owned by the Government of Western Australia, these coins were initially named for their depiction of Australian gold nuggets on the reverse side, with the obverse showcasing Queen Elizabeth II. These early versions of the coin were notable for their "two-tone" frosted design effect and individual hard plastic encapsulation, features that were unusual for standard bullion coins and gave them a unique market niche.
From 1986 to 1989, the reverse of the coins featured images of various Australian gold nuggets, such as the Welcome Stranger nugget on the 1987 1 oz Australian Nugget coin. In 1989, the design shifted to feature different kangaroos, a symbol more globally recognized as representative of Australia. The kangaroo design changes annually, increasing the coins' numismatic value over the gold value.
The series includes coins of different sizes, ranging from 1/20 oz to 1 kg of 24-carat gold (with the 1/10 oz, ¼ oz, ½ oz and 1 oz Gold Kangaroo being the most popular), with legal tender status in Australia. The introduction of larger sizes such as 2 oz, 10 oz, and 1 kg occurred in 1991, some of the largest gold coins ever minted. In 2011, the Perth Mint broke the record for the largest and most valuable gold coin with a one-tonne gold coin, approximately 80 cm in diameter and 12 cm thick, featuring a red kangaroo and valued at over $53 million.
It's important to note that the Australian Gold Nugget coins are distinct from the Australian Lunar Gold Bullion coins, although both are minted by Perth Mint and share the same .9999 purity. The Lunar coins feature different animals from the Chinese calendar instead of the kangaroo.
The Australian Gold Nugget series, with its changing kangaroo imagery and limited minting, has become highly collectible among numismatists and investors worldwide, symbolizing a key part of Australia's gold coinage heritage.
Since 1993, there have been 859,687 1 oz Silver Kangaroo coins minted by the Perth Mint.
Silver Bullion Coins by Perth
The Australian Silver Kangaroo is a series of silver bullion coins that have been minted since 1993 by the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra, Australia. These coins are known for their legal tender status in Australia and are primarily intended for investment in silver. The series includes coins of one troy ounce, featuring a purity of 99.99% silver.
When the series was introduced in 1993, the Silver Kangaroo coins were usually issued in two forms: a proof coin and a frosted uncirculated coin. Starting in 2003, coins with selective gold plating were also issued. The design of these coins originally had a purity of 99.9% silver until 2014, after which it was increased to 99.99% from 2015.
The obverse side of these coins consistently depicts Queen Elizabeth II (changing to King Charles III), while the reverse features a red kangaroo jumping. The design of the kangaroo on the reverse side was created by Dr. Stuart Devlin in 2014. Unlike other Australian silver coins such as the silver koala and silver kookaburra, the image of the kangaroo on the Silver Kangaroo coins does not change annually. Special editions such as proof, colored, and gilded versions of the Silver Kangaroo coins are also available.
The mintage of these coins varies each year. For example, in 2015, 300,000 coins were minted, and this number has fluctuated in subsequent years, reaching as high as over 13 million in 2020.
The Australian Silver Kangaroo coins are part of Australia's rich tradition of producing high-quality bullion coins, and they hold a special place among collectors and investors for their unique designs and investment value.
The Perth Mint, known for its rich history and innovation in coin minting, has expanded its repertoire beyond gold to include striking coins in platinum and palladium. Established in 1899, the Perth Mint originally focused on gold coins but has since embraced the production of other precious metals, adapting to the evolving demands of the global market.
Gold sometimes moves opposite to the U.S. dollar because the metal is dollar-denominated, making it a hedge against inflation. Image Credit: Gold Avenue
Perth Mint Platinum and Palladium Coins
In terms of platinum coins, the Perth Mint has introduced several notable series. The Australian Platypus Platinum Coin series, launched in 2011, features the unique aquatic mammal native to Australia. These coins are minted in 1 oz of 99.95% pure platinum and have legal tender status in Australia. The annual production limit of these coins adds to their appeal for collectors and investors seeking rarity and exclusivity.
The Perth Mint also ventured into producing platinum bullion coins in various designs, including the Platinum Koala (1988-2008), the Platypus (2011 - 2017), and the Platinum Kangaroo (2018 - ). Each of these series has its distinct features and has contributed to the Mint's reputation for high-purity gold products, including Kangaroo coins and gold bars.
As for palladium, the Perth Mint has made several types of coins struck in this metal. This includes bullion and proof coins, as well as coins presented with related collectables, such as phone cards. It's noteworthy that the Perth Mint is the only mint to have produced platinum bullion coins in three different designs, a testament to its innovative approach in precious metal minting.
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Perth Mint Gold & Silver Bars
In terms of gold bars, the Perth Mint offers a variety of sizes to cater to different investment strategies. These gold bars are celebrated for their high purity, typically .9999 fine gold, and are available in sizes ranging from small 1 gram bars to large 1 kilogram bars. The bars are accredited by major gold exchanges and feature unique serial numbers and tamper-evident packaging, adding to their appeal among investors.
The Mint also produces silver bars, recognized for their .999 purity and available in a range of sizes from small ingots to large 1,000-ounce bars. The design of these bars often includes the iconic Perth Mint logo and kangaroo motifs, making them aesthetically appealing to collectors. Like the gold bars, the silver bars are backed by the Perth Mint's reputation for quality and purity, enhancing their investment appeal.
The Perth Mint's production capacity is substantial. As of 2019, it refined approximately 79 percent of the gold and 30 percent of the silver production in the Australasian market. In terms of global production, the Mint mints coins and bars from both Australian gold and metal sourced from other countries, representing 10 percent of the global production. In 2018, it sold about A$18.9 billion in pure gold, silver, and platinum bullion bars and coins.
Commemorative bars are also a part of the Perth Mint's offerings. These limited-edition bars celebrate significant events, anniversaries, and themes, featuring unique designs and intricate artwork relevant to the occasion they commemorate. Their limited mintage and unique designs make these bars highly collectible.
In summary, the Perth Mint's long-standing tradition in producing gold and silver coins and bars, its commitment to quality and purity, and its innovative approach to commemorative and investment products have cemented its position as a leader in the precious metals industry.
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