Of Kangaroos and Chinese Creatures: The International Appeal of Australian Gold Coins
Guest Article By Sharon Freeman ……….
Australian gold bullion coins rank among the most treasured in the world. In fact, Perth Mint, Australia’s official gold coin producer (and oldest mint in operation), broke its sales records this year.
In April, Perth Mint sold 111,505.06 troy ounces in gold coins and other gilded products, trouncing the 17,575.64 in sales last year by a whopping 534.43 percent. One bestseller was the 2013 mint of the 1 oz Australian Kangaroo.
It is a product in good company. In 2011, Perth Mint produced the world’s largest, heaviest gold coin to date, valued at a superior $53.5 million.
Indeed, Australian gold coins are among the most distinctive minted products on earth. They are called ‘kangaroos’ because they prominently feature the said mammals, endemic to the continent. Perth Mint’s giant coin, for example, shows a red kangaroo on the reverse side.
But this was not always the case. Australian gold coins only featured kangaroos beginning in 1990 and were only termed officially as Australian Kangaroos in 2008. Before that, the coins showed pictures of Australia’s famous gold nuggets and were called as Australian Nuggets. Moreover, the Australian Nugget initially came only in four denominations. As of press time, Perth Mint produces five sizes of the Australian Kangaroo: 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, ½ oz, 1 oz, and 1 kg.
However, not all Australian gold bullion coins have the kangaroo designs. Perth Mint has also been minting coins that display creatures from the Chinese zodiac since 1996, Collectively known as the Australian Lunar, these gold bullion coins come in nine denominations; the largest and the lightest weigh 10 kg and 1/20 oz, respectively.
Both the Australian Kangaroo and Lunar feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side. Furthermore, they both offer a purity of .9999 and are priced no differently. The Commonwealth Government of Australia recognises either kind of coin as legal tender.
Despite their legal tender status, Australian gold bullion coins should not be confused with monetary coins, which are designed for circulation within the economy. The former is gold bullions which are shaped as coins.
As such, Australian gold kangaroos and lunars should be distinguished from numismatic coins or those primarily meant as collectors’ items. Bullion coins are veritable investments; their prices are even pegged on spot prices of investment-grade bullions, i.e. pure gold bars weighing at least 100 oz. A small (usually 3 percent) premium is oft added to the actual value of the coin’s metal content to recompense fabrication fees.
Premiums paid for gold coins generally have not kept up with the rise in prices for bullion bars, making coins a buyer’s market. If you’re mulling to invest in a trove of kangaroos, there is no more auspicious time than now.
Buying and Selling
It is very simple to get duped by all that glitters. If you are not careful enough in buying these coins, you could buy gold-plated coins with only a superficial layer of gold splayed over another kind of metal. To be certain with your purchase, consult a certified coin dealer to check if the coin is investment-grade.
After you have pinned down where to buy your coins, you should factor in storage issues in your decision. Take necessary measures to protect your investments from theft, fire and damage. The best way to do this is to spend on a safety deposit box or a similar safekeeping medium at banks and gold dealers. If you intend to resell the coins soon, then it would be wise to procure a household safe instead.
Consider reselling when gold prices are bullish and demand is high. Gold spot prices are notably dynamic but you can track it by the hour on many sites.
Sharon Freeman is a freelance blogger and author. She writes about investing in gold, investment trends and reviews local investing websites.