Australia has more gold to offer than merely the Australian Gold Coast. This country is well known for its vast and rich quantities of minerals and resources including its gold production. In the year 2019, Australia produced the second-most gold after China. Australian Gold Nuggets are gold bullion coins that have been minted by the Perth Mint since 1986. Australian Gold Nuggets have formed the backbone of the Perth Mint for many years.
The coin originates its name from gold nuggets which have played a predominant role in Australian gold history. The “Welcome Stranger” nugget found at Moliagul, Victoria in 1869 is the biggest ever gold nugget found. It weighed 78kg (173 lb) and rendered over 2,284 troy ounces of gold net. – Wikipedia
Not so long ago in 1980, the largest gold nugget found using a metal detector was also found in Kingower, Victoria, Australia. The “Hand of Faith” weighed 27.2 kg (60 lb) converting to 875 troy ounces.
Nuggets are naturally formed pieces of native gold. They often appear as rocks that have been polished by water stream action as they are often concentrated by watercourses. The most common method of finding nuggets is with a metal detector. In certain cases, this method does not work when the gold is finely sprinkled and overlaid with bedrock and gravel wash or embedded and enclosed in quartz reef material.
The nuggets found in Australia in general have a higher gold purity than other places on earth. Their gold purity is mostly 23 carat or higher.
History of the Australian Gold Nugget coin
The Perth Mint issued the first four-coin proof sets in 1986 and in 1987 the Australian Gold Nugget was introduced and became Australia’s first gold bullion coin.
The coin derived its unique name from the reverse design that displayed the various celebrated gold nuggets found in Australia.
- 1 oz Gold coin portrays the “Welcome Stranger” known for the largest nugget of gold to be recorded;
- ½ oz Gold coin portrays the “Hand of Faith” discovered in 1980;
- ¼ oz Gold coin portrays the “Golden Eagle” weighing 32.2kg (1,135-ounces) found in January 1931 at Larkinsville, Western Australia;
- 1/10 oz Gold coin portrays the “Little Hero” gold nugget weighing 10.5kg discovered in the Coongan River in 1890.
Each year the Proof sets offered new reverse nugget designs until 1989 when it was replaced by the Kangaroo, believed to be a more symbolic and recognizable representation of Australia.
The bullion coin continued with the nugget design of 1986 until it was changed to the Kangaroo designs in 1990. Also in 1990, the first 1/20 ounce coin was produced and in 1991 the 2 oz, 10 oz and the 1 kg Gold Nugget coins were added.
In 2011 a 1-tonne Australian gold nugget was produced breaking the world record as the biggest coin. The coin measures 31 inches (80 cm) in diameter and nearly 5 inches (12 cm) thick, with a face value of $1,000,000 AUD. This achievement elevated the Perth Mint to one of the most famous and prestigious mints in the world.
Australian Nugget or Gold Kangaroo?
It is not unlikely to be confused about the name of Australia’s bullion gold coin. How I understand it, is that the bullion coin retained its official name as the Australian Gold Nugget stemming from the first 3 years of production. Their nickname is the Australian Gold Kangaroo as depicted on the reverse of the coins since 1989.
The features of the Australian Gold Nuggets
The coin is minted in 99.99% pure gold which places the coin in the same class as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin in terms of purity.
The coin has a frosted, smooth background which is achieved by pressing and striking the coin multiple times. The images on both sides are polished to create a liquid sheen. The contrast between the frosted background and the shining pictures gives the coin its distinctive two-tone effect.
Each coin is issued within a hard-plastic (acrylic) capsule which gives the coin a much needed layer of protection.
The Australian Gold Nugget is one of the few gold bullion coins whose reverse design is changed each year. The fact that the Gold Kangaroo design is changed classifies the coin in the same class as the Chinese Panda that is also changed regularly. In general, the proof coins reverse designs are being used in the following year’s bullion coins.
As opposed to the reverse side of the coin the obverse featuring Queen Elizabeth II does not change each year.
The obverse displays the sixth portrait of the Queen to appear on Australian coins since 1952.
The Queen is portrayed from the design by Jody Clerk since 2019 wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem which was worn for The Coronation.
She faces to the right. The design is true-like as every individual facial feature of the Queen is sculptured in perfect likeness.
Written along the left edge “ELIZABETH 11”.
On the right-hand side engraved “AUSTRALIA”.
At the bottom curve the face value or legal tender of the coin with the 1 oz “100 DOLLARS”.
As mentioned before the reverse design of the Australian Gold Nugget is changed every year. Although the design changes a kangaroo animal is always depicted as the main feature of the reverse side. They are referred to as Gold Kangaroos as a result.
The kangaroo that is indigenous to Australia is also the world’s largest marsupial. The animal is of cultural, spiritual and economical significance for Australia. It is said to symbolize family, power, balance and strength and on an emotional level represent gratitude and abundance. The kangaroo is widely found in Aboriginal Art. As a national image of Australia the fact that the kangaroo cannot walk backward, represents the nation of Australia moving forward with confidence.
At the top:
- The artwork of the image is surrounded by the inscription “AUSTRALIAN KANGAROO”
At the bottom:
- The date of issue e.g. 2020,
- The weight 1oz,
- Fineness 9999,
- And the metal’s name GOLD
The letter P for the Perth Mint is engraved at the foot of one of the trees.
An added security feature with the 2020 bullion coin is the micro laser-engraved letter “A” that is concealed in the reverse and only visible through a magnifying glass.
The Australian Gold Nuggets have the status of legal tender in Australia. The imagery of the Queen on all Australian coins is indicative of the backing by the Australian government. The face value although important for tax purposes is not a true reflection of the intrinsic value of the coins. These coins trade at a premium well over the spot price of gold.
The different ranges of coins have different face values and legal tender amounts:
- 1/20 oz coin: Face value of $5 AUD.
- 1/10 oz coin: Face value of $15 AUD.
- ¼ oz coin: Face value of $25 AUD.
- ½ oz coin: Face value of $50 AUD.
- 1 oz coin: Face value of $100 AUD.
- 2 oz coin: Face value of $500 AUD (1991), $200 AUD from 1992 onwards.
- 10 oz coin: Face value of $2,500 AUD (1991), $1,000 AUD from 1992 onwards.
- 1 kilo coin: Face value of $10,000 AUD (1991), $3,000 AUD from 1992 onwards.
Specifications of the 1-ounce bullion Australian Gold Nugget
- Gold Content: 1oz.
- Minimum Gold Weight: 1oz.
- Purity: 24 carats.
- Fineness: fine gold .9999
- Diameter: 32.10 mm.
- Thickness: 2.65 mm.
- Weight: 1.0001 troy oz (31.10 g).
- Brand: Perth Mint
Largest and purest gold bullion coins produced in the world.
The Perth Mint is known to produce some of the world’s largest and purest gold coins on the planet. This Mint which is owned by the Western Australian government has high production standards and manufacturing precision.
The Australian Gold Nuggets are among the purest of coins at .9999 (24-carat) fine gold in the same class as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin.
The “two-tone” contrast effect of the coins, distinguish these coins from its competitors not only in terms of uniqueness but also in terms of beauty. The sheen of the two-tone effect creates the impression of “rarity”.
Annual design changes
The Australian Gold Nugget is one of the few bullion coins that are regularly changed along with the Chinese Panda. The reverse designs that are updated yearly make it the most unique bullion coin.
It further enhances the coin’s collectibility and hence popularity among numismatics and investors.
These coins are legal tender in Australia and backed by the Australian government. This is meaningful because Australia has a strong well-developed economy and democracy.
The beautiful designs that change annually increase the esthetic value of the Australian Gold Nuggets far beyond its face value.
Strong demand in the gold market
Their liquidity is high for reasons already mentioned and there is a strong demand for Australian Gold Nuggets in the gold market. As an owner of this coin, you will always find a willing buyer.
Limited annual mintages
It is not the biggest produced coin due to the limit being placed on their mintages. Those that are released trade at a premium well above the gold spot price due to its collection value.
Covered in hard plastic capsules
Australian Gold Nuggets are the only bullion coins that are individually packed in a hardened plastic capsule. This layer of protection is needed for this “soft” coin. The capsule actually adds to the sheen of the coin.
Anti-counterfeiting measures are becoming increasingly important as the gold coin market grows and more individuals are attracted to gold coins as a means to protect and enhance their wealth. Unfortunately, bad elements are also drawn to the market where goods are exchanged. It remains the investor and an individual’s responsibility to protect yourself by making informed decisions. It is impossible and unpleasant to involve laws and regulations for every gold coin transaction.
The Perth Mint has played their part with the 2020 release which contains a concealed laser-engraved “A” inscription which is only visible through a magnifying glass. This is a brilliant layer of protection that makes counterfeiting extremely difficult and provides peace of mind to investors. These “marks” radically increase the costs of counterfeiting, hopefully beyond the point that it is economically viable for those criminals.
Australian Gold Nuggets are approved for Individual Retirement Account (IRA) purposes.
Prone to damage
These coins require extremely careful handling as it is known for its proneness to damage. Careful inspection of these coins is required which may complicate the buying process.
Premium over the spot price of gold
The Australian Gold Nuggets have a collector’s value that may drive its price up to significant levels above the spot price of gold. For serious gold bullion buyers, this may be problematic. Certain dealers may be able to obtain Gold Nuggets at good prices.
Storage and insurance
Smaller coins are actually easier to store than large bars. When your portfolio increases safekeeping and insurance may become problematic. IRAs also require coins to be stored by an approved trustee. Fortunately, there are bullion dealers like goldbroker.com that offer online accounts under a custodial arrangement. With these accounts, gold coins can be traded relatively quickly as well.
The Australian Gold Nuggets count as one of the top gold bullion coins. Its outstanding features are its purity, two-tone sheen and its reverse design that is updated each year. These features add to the collectibility of the coin. There is a worldwide active market for Australian Gold Nuggets which makes this bullion coin a definite consideration for collectors and investors.