In 1990, the Perth Mint unveiled its inaugural silver bullion series, the Australian Kookaburra. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, while the series has undergone many changes in its rich history, its allure remains constant.
In 1990, the Perth Mint unveiled its inaugural silver bullion series, the Australian Kookaburra. Collectors immediately took to this new series thanks in large part to its famous and beloved subject, the kookaburra. Fittingly, the bird is perhaps best for a children’s song that borrows the its name, as the bird is also known for its beautiful songs. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, the series continues to enamor collectors young and old. Although the series has undergone many changes in its rich history, this allure remains constant.
The series was first struck in .999 fine silver. It remained so until 2018, when the Perth Mint increased the purity to .9999 fine, the proverbial ‘gold standard’ of purity for silver bullion coins. This allowed the series to match the purity of the famous Canadian Maple Leaf issued annually by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Throughout its three-decade run, the Kookaburra coin has borne a unique reverse design every year. Iconic designer Stuart Devlin created the first every kookaburra reverse, which shows the bird perched on a tree stump. Some of the other noteworthy designs in the series include the 1994 edition, which was the first ever to include two kookaburras, the 1996 edition, which was the first ever to show the bird in flight, the 2002, which showed the bird against a backdrop of a map of Australia, and the 2016 piece, which showed the bird on a fence post rather than in a completely natural setting.
The series went through one of its most significant changes in 2008. That was the first Silver Kookaburra issue to include the “P” mint mark of the Perth Mint. The mint mark has been appearing on coins in the series ever since. Thanks in large part due to its close association with this series, that mint mark is currently recognized as a sign of quality among collectors throughout the world even when it appears on other series.
The obverse of the series has also evolved over time. Like other Australian coinage, each issue features a portrait of the country’s head of state. Since the inception of the series, that has been Queen Elizabeth II. Although the monarch has not changed, three different portraits of her have featured on the series.
The series began with Raphael Maklouf’s right-side portrait of the monarch wearing earrings, a necklace, and her Royal Diamond Diadem. The monarch is middle aged in the portrait.
In 1999, the obverse design changed to Ian Rank-Broadley’s portrait of the monarch wearing a tiara. She was considerably older in that image.
The 2019 edition also introduced a rim frame around the portrait. Twenty years later, a design by Jody Clark replaced Rank-Broadley’s famous design. Clark’s design departed from the tradition of previous portraits of the monarch by showing her down to her shoulders. It also brought back the Royal Diamond Diadem, the same crown as Maklouf used.
In 2020, the beloved series is marking its 30th anniversary with a special edition. As with each of the previous thirty issues, this one features a new design on the reverse. What sets is apart is that this year’s coin has two kookaburra designs. The original kookaburra design by Stuart Devlin features on the obverse. That design is a bit smaller than it otherwise would be to provide space at the top of this face for Clark’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which is included at the top. The anniversary dates, “1990” and “2020,” are also inscribed on this face.
Today, the Silver Kookaburra are issued in 1 oz, 2 oz, 10 oz, and kg sizes. 1 oz coins have a strict mintage cap, while larger sizes are mined to meet demand. For most of its history, the mintage cap of the 1 oz piece was set at 300,000 pieces, though in 2011 that cap rose to half a million. In many cases, though, actual mintages have been much lower.
For thirty years, the Silver Kookaburra series has brought one of the world’s most beautiful creatures to collectors throughout the world. Its stunning one year only designs have collectors eagerly anticipating each new release year in and year it. The 2020 edition will undoubtedly be among the most popular in the history of the series thanks to the significance of the date, the beauty of the new design, and the fact that it includes the bonus of the original kookaburra design as well. Unfortunately, collectors who wait to order risk missing out on this extraordinary piece of numismatic history.
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Author Name: Sean McConeghy
Sean McConeghy is a freelance writer and network marketer living in Roatan, Honduras. He originally hails from New York and specializes in writing about numismatics, real estate, and politics.