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Koalas are one of the most iconic Australian animals; a distinguished symbol for the land down under. Because of the koala’s well-known association with Australia, the Perth Mint began a Silver Koala coin program in 2007. Located in Australia and created in 1899, the Perth Mint is a world leader in bullion and numismatic coin production. The Silver Koala is one of the Perth Mint’s flagship coin programs, and 2017 marks its 10th anniversary.
These cuddly animals are often confused with bears because of their appearance, but they are actually marsupials! This means that koala babies – or joeys – are born prematurely, and then continue to develop in their mothers’ pouches after birth. Not only are koalas nocturnal, meaning that they are often awake at night, but they are also known to sleep up to 20 hours a day! Because of the energy required for a koala to digest its diet, which consists mostly of eucalyptus tree leaves, it is necessary for the koala to sleep for a substantial portion of its day.
Zoologists estimate there to be fewer than 80,000 – possibly even 50,000 – koalas left in Australia today. The decline in the koala population is likely due to habitat loss, which is caused by land clearing, bushfires, and diseased eucalyptus trees.
Fortunately, Silver Koalas have continued to grow in popularity over the last decade for several reasons:
All of the above qualities make Silver Koalas highly collectible bullion issues. And, with the ever-growing popularity of Koala coins, hopefully more of the public will become aware of the environmental obstacles actual koalas face.
As we stated, each year's 1 oz. Silver Koala has a limited mintage, which 300,000 to be exact. In contrast, the 10 oz. and kilo versions of the Silver Koala have unlimited mintages, but they are only struck based on demand, and final mintage numbers are released when the year is over.
Koala coin designs always show either a single koala or an adult koala with a joey, along with some representation of the eucalyptus tree because of its crucial role in koalas’ survival. These designs showcase the impressive artistic talents of Perth Mint’s artists, which also adds to the appeal and collectability of these coins.
The reverse design of the 2017 Koala bears a striking and elegant image of a single koala sitting in his natural habitat – a eucalyptus tree – with another tree and hills visible in the background. The obverse, like all Perth Mint coins issued since 1998, features the right-facing Ian-Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, because Australia is part of the British Commonwealth.
The 1 oz. coin carries a 1 Australian Dollar denomination, meaning that it is legal tender in Australia and that their weight and purity are backed by the Australian government. Koala coins are also eligible for inclusion in precious metal Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Like all Perth coins, the Silver Koalas have a “P” Mint mark signifying that they were struck at the Perth Mint. The 2017 Koala also displays the initials “TV” for Tom Vaughn, who designed the coin.
A key aspect as to why Silver Koalas maintain such high quality is that they ship directly from the Mint in protective acrylic capsules, which prevent the coins from being damaged. These hard acrylic capsules also offer long-term protection for the coins.
Previous issues in the Koala series are also highly sought after, because many of them have extremely low mintages. The 2008 1-oz. Silver Koala is very popular because only a mere 84,057 coins exist. Several of the earlier issues carry substantial premiums that reflect their high demand.
The year with the highest Koala mintages is 2012, with 388,046 coins produced in total. Initially, Koala coins were struck based on demand. However, in 2016 Perth decided to limit annual production to 300,000 coins – the same amount as 1-oz. silver Kookaburra coins and Lunar coins.
In addition to 2017 Koalas, MCM currently has graded examples of some of the hard-to-find Koala releases. We also carry the 1 oz. Silver High-Relief Proof and Gilt coins, along with the 2016 ¼-oz. Gold Proof coin.
While it is still possible to assemble a complete set of silver koalas, the limited mintages and coin variations will make this feat increasingly difficult as time goes on. Just make sure to keep up with the series, by purchasing some of the Mint's most recent Koala Releases!
||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.|