Australia issues several silver dollars that are of interest to both collectors and investors. The popular Australian Koala and Kookaburra silver bullion coins are issued by the Perth Mint in Western Australia. But the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) in Sydney also issues beautiful, investment-quality coins.
When the RAM first opened in Sydney on February 22, 1965, it was the first mint in Australia that was not a branch of the London Royal Mint. The Duke of Edinburgh officiated at the ceremony and the RAM began the process of creating Australia’s decimal coinage.
Forty five years later, the RAM has produced more than 11 billion coins. In addition to issuing Australian coins and silver dollars, the RAM also mints coins for other South Pacific nations, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Malaysia.
In 1993, the RAM introduced the first Australian Silver Kangaroo. This silver dollar has been produced every year since then. It has a purity of .999 and weighs one ounce. An image of Queen Elizabeth II appears each year on the obverse. And a different image of a kangaroo – the national symbol of Australia – appears on the reverse.
Together with American Silver Eagle coins, Canadian Maple Leafs, and the St. George Sovereign from the London Mint, the Australian Kangaroo has become one of the most collectible silver bullion coins in the world, valued as much for its artistry as its investment potential.
Because the mintages were limited in quantity, some of the older issues have shown strong appreciation in value. The 1998 and 2007 silver bullion coins are especially collectible. In 1998, 7,645 proof coins — the first in the series — were produced, and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth was changed to the Ian Rank-Broadley design. Proof coins have been available since then and coins with some gold plating were introduced in 2002.
In 1990, the Perth Mint produced the first Australian Kookaburra silver coins. Although the obverse, which features an image of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, remains the same, the image of the kookaburra on the reverse changes each year.
Native to Australia, the kookaburra is a member of the kingfisher family that’s best known for it’s distinctive call, which sounds eerily like a human laughing. Because of that, he’s a favorite of Aussies and visitors alike who are enchanted by his infectious good spirits.
For 2010, the design features a Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby designed by W Pietranik. It is shown on a rocky ridge, typical of its New South Wales habitat. Listed as Vulnerable in the 1999 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the Yellow-Footed Rock Wallaby is something of a success story in Australia, having bounced back in number.
There will be just 20,000 proof coins produced. The mintage on the frosted, uncalculated coin is unlimited.
Collectors and investors should strongly consider adding Australian Kangaroos to their holdings. Because the quantities are so limited, they are more likely to appreciate than coins with mintages in the millions. And because their silver content is slightly greater than that of American Silver Eagles, they are often the first choice of collectors.