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In early December, ModernCoinMart released the first coin in an exciting new series, the African Lion, which was minted under the legal authority of the African nation, Burundi.
The Republic of Burundi is in the African Great Lakes region and is one of the five poorest countries in the world. Burundi is a former French colony, and like other Francophone countries, it continues to use the franc as its currency.
The coins in this series, which are being distributed exclusively by MCM on a worldwide basis, will feature a different, new lion design each year.
The coin has a 5000 franc denomination and is made of one troy ounce of .999 pure silver. Each coin weighs 31.1 grams and has a diameter of 38.43 millimeters.
The obverse of the coin features a design based on the official seal of Burundi that depicts a front-facing lion and the inscription “unite, travail, progress” in French, or “unity, work, progress” in English.
The reverse of the coin, which is the side most collectors will focus on, features a pair of male and female lions sitting in the Serengeti protecting their territory. African Lions are well-known for their manes and the male one on the coin has a very substantial mane. There is also an inscription that reads “African Lion 2015.”
The African Lion coin is issued as a bullion coin with a limited mintage of 50,000 coins, and a proof coin with a 1,000 mintage. Even more limited are the 500 mintage colorized proof and gilt proof versions.
All four versions of this release come with a certificate of authenticity, and the certificates for the proof, colorized proof, and gilt proof coins are individually numbered. The proof coin is being sold with and without a wooden box. Only a limited number of coins with boxes are available.
All four versions are being sold both ungraded and graded by NGC in MS69 and MS70 early releases quality with an exclusive label for the coin that says “African Lion series.”
For those interested in purchasing multiple examples of the bullion coin, MCM is offering lots of five and ten coins, rolls of twenty coins and monster boxes of 500 pieces.
Initial reaction from collectors to the new Lion coin has been very positive, especially among those modern coin collectors who are wildlife enthusiasts. Many collectors have said they are impressed with the coin’s design and quality, which they noted have to be seen in-hand to truly be appreciated.
Animals are one of the most popular themes on world coins. For example, the Somalia Elephant series and the Rwanda African Wildlife series are popular with collectors for their beautiful designs and low mintages and have appreciated in price on the secondary coin market as they became harder to find.
The African Lion series is aimed at the same kind of collectors who purchase other wildlife coins and, with time, is likely to become as well-known and popular as other series.
A mintage of 50,000 is very low for a bullion coin since most bullion coins are minted in the millions and even tens of millions, and 1,000 is also quite low for a proof issue, especially one available at an attractive issue price.
The 2015 coin also has the benefit of being the first coin in the new series. First issues typically outperform other coins in a series over time, and tend to be highly sought by buyers.
The African Lion (Panthera leo) is renowned for its majesty and is nicknamed the “King of the Jungle.” It is the dominant apex predator of the sub-Saharan African plains. It is classified as a big cat and is the second-largest big cat, after the tiger.
Lions live in the wild for 10-14 years, with fully grown adult males reaching weights of 250 kg (550 lbs). Adult males are easily distinguishable from females because of their long manes, which begin to grow in their second year of age.
The lion’s diet consists mainly of freshly hunted large ungulates; they are also expert scavengers and opportunists.
Lions are also largely nocturnal, hunting mostly at night, and sleeping by day under the shade of Acacia trees.
The population of African Lions has declined substantially in the second half of the 20th century, and although the full cause of the decline is not known, the main known causes are habitat loss and conflicts with humans. These animals can only exist within designated reserves and national parks.
The West African Lion population is particularly endangered.
The limited mintage 2015 African Lion coin is a fitting tribute to these majestic and iconic animals.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|