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We've spoken a fair bit about the competition between different sovereign mints. Undoubtedly, it's a no-holds-barred, chairs allowed battle between the U.S. Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) and the Perth Mint.
Geography and all, the Perth Mint feels like the most distant of the Big Three sovereign mints. If you’re not a precious metals nerd like me, you might not know why this Perth Mint stands out among its North American competitors. (Actually, it also rivals private mints, which we'll get to shortly.)
Perth Mint opened shop in 1899, there was some ore, a metalsmith...
Okay, we'll skip to the good stuff. After all, what is a mint if not for its products?
Bars are almost exclusively the territory of private refiners and mints. Most sovereign mints simply can't be bothered with issuing gold or silver bars – they focus exclusively on coins. Not the Perth Mint. It's one of the few sovereign mints that makes both gold and silver bullion bars, and there's plenty of choice, too.
When you buy gold bars from Perth Mint, you can choose among weights ranging from just 1 gram all the way up to 400 oz. Perth Mint gold bars are so incredibly popular they’ve earned the somewhat-dubious honor of being one of the most counterfeited retail gold bars. To put a stop to that, Perth Mint made its tamper-resistant assay packaging extremely difficult to duplicate. (By the way, if you’re concerned about getting fake gold, the best way to ensure you own the real thing is to buy gold bars from a dealer who works directly with the mint, like BullionMax).
Silver stackers can choose weights between 10 oz and 1,000 oz. (Take that, PAMP.)
Unsurprisingly, though, coins are where Perth Mint makes its name.
Each of the Big Three mints wants to beat its competitors in some way.
Well, except the U.S. Mint. They don't feel the need to prove themselves. The U.S. Mint can make really ugly coins and mess up its product launches and still people around the world clamor for gold and silver eagles.
Canada? Well, the RCM decided to make the world's purest coin – “five nines” or 0.99999 fine. Show-offs.
Perth Mint, well, they know bigger is better. In 2012, Perth Mint unveiled the largest-ever gold coin that was also legal tender. The 1 ton Gold Nugget was even minted in five-nine fine gold, just to annoy the Canadians...
For those of us whose budgets don’t quite stretch to a whole ton of gold, Perth Mint makes gold coins in more typical weights. Some less typical weights, too. The gold kangaroo, for example, is issued in weights as small as 1/2 gram (62 to an ounce!) and as large as 1 kilo (35 1/4 oz). That's a spread many mints can only dream about. While the U.S. Mint was buying a new coin press for the 5 oz America the Beautiful silver coins, Perth Mint was spinning up this monster:
The gold kangaroo (formerly the “gold nugget” 1986-1989) and silver koala are the most popular coins Perth Mint makes. The silver koala, with a 300,000 coin mintage cap and its annually changed design, tends to cause a stir among investors and collectors.
The silver kookaburra is another prominent Perth Mint coin, perhaps primarily less popular because the Australian-native bird has a silly name.
Yet for all these products, it's hard to deny that the Australian Opal Series stands out the most. Minted in .9999 fine silver, the coins are part of a commemorative Lunar New Year series. Silver and opal are each bought for their remarkable appearance. Bring the two together and, well... You get the idea. The animals, such as tigers and roosters, are engraved in the middle of the coin with high-quality opal. The level of craftsmanship is off the charts, which is probably why their price is so “spendy” as my eight-year-old says.
Unfortunately, they’re tough to lay hands on (our last lunar opal coins sold out in hours), and tend to go at steep aftermarket prices.
Oh, lest I forget to mention, Perth Mint frequently takes contracts from both Tuvalu and the Cook Islands. It’s not uncommon to see the iconic Perth Mint “P” mintmark on Tuvalu coins, like the 1/2 oz baby tiger proof silver coin, or the colorized John Wayne silver coin. Now you know why.
All in all, one of the best selections out of any sovereign or private mint, whose ongoing series tend to be sold out almost immediately. (Not to worry, we’ll do our best to keep our vaults full.)