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Red White and Blue
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Red White and Blue
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
**here is a cut/paste of the article as the linque forces you to log in.**

WELLINGTON, New Zealand—With silver prices in the doldrums and sales of commemorative coins sinking, one of the world's major coin producers hopes a notorious maritime predator and killer, the saltwater crocodile, will come to the rescue.

Early signs are good. With its sales of silver coins down substantially in the first four months of the year, The Perth Mint in Australia says its one-ounce coin showing the dreaded saltie with its jaws agape, released for sale on May 12, is being snapped up eagerly. Already, 300,000 have been sold and the complete run of a million is on track to be a sellout within a month or two.

A 2013 slump in gold and silver prices, which made the precious metals more affordable, led to a wave of buying of jewelry and coins.

As silver prices fell 36% last year, global sales of silver coins and bars increased 76%, according to data from industry group The Silver Institute.

This year, things are slightly different—gold prices have made some gains, rising nearly 8% since the start of January, as gold coin sales have collapsed by a third. Silver prices, however, are near-flat, trading around $19.50 an ounce now, though demand for the Perth Mint's silver coins are off by a more modest 16%.

But thanks to the saltie, maybe not for long.

"It is early days in May, but we think we will have an incredible month," said Neil Vance, wholesale manager at Perth Mint, commenting on what he said was the overwhelming success of the croc coin in its prime target market of Europe, but also in the U.S. and Australia.

Australia's mint isn't alone in reporting weaker sales of silver coins. Sales of the United States Mint's famed Silver Eagle coins were down 4.7% in the first four months of the year.

The Perth Mint, opened in 1899 as a branch of Britain's Royal Mint, sells individual half-ounce silver coins for US$16.93 each and one-ounce coins for $29.86. The coins are legal tender in Australia.

Mr. Vance is upbeat about another killer coin. The mint has already sold two-thirds of its 300,000-coin run of half-ounce Great White Shark coins, which were launched in April. Croc- and shark sales have both outperformed coin issuances portraying less threatening animals, including kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras, a type of bird native to Australia.

Weak silver prices may be a deciding factor. "The average investor is buying these coins because they are cheaper than the other regular coins and therefore we are getting demand," said John Feeney, at the coin service department of ABC Bullion in Sydney. He also noted that a large run of a million coins may reduce collector interest.

Coins featuring wild animals have been popular for millennia. The Lydians in what is now Turkey are credited with making the first gold and silver coins in the seventh century B.C., and some of their currency included images of lions.

"As with any collectible, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and animal coins are quite popular—but primarily only with numismatists who collect by that particular theme," said Sam Gelberd, numismatic instructor at American Numismatic Association in Colorado.

Write to Arpan Mukherjee at [email protected]
 
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