The Red Back Spider Dollar of Tuvalu has soared past the US$1,300 mark on the secondary market, more than 20 times issue price.
In 2006 the first silver dollars in Tuvalu’s series of Deadly & Dangerous Australians were released by Downies, agents for the issue.The reverse of each coin featured a Red Back Spider (Latrodectus hasseltii). The issue price of the selectively colored, .999 fine one-ounce silver proof was A$79.95 including tax, equivalent to US$61.41 at today’s exchange rates.
The mintage was 5,000 with the issue taking about 10 months to sell out.
Market madness struck in 2008 when the third coin of the series appeared showing a Blue-ringed Octopus. For some reason vast numbers of collectors had developed a sudden craving for D&D Australians. All were anxious to complete the set but found Red Back Spider coins to be elusive.
Downies, as agents for the series, started buying back Red Back dollars to satisfy customer demand. By mid-2013 the company was reportedly paying upwards of A$1,100 [US$844] per coin which they resold for more than A$1,200 [US$921]. But there were never sufficient Red Backs to satisfy the market.
This year Red Backs have cracked the $1,000 mark. Downies have obviously managed to score a small cache. In March there were advertising examples for A$1,695 [US$1,302] – including GST.
Stay tuned to see what dizzy heights D&D Aussie spiders have crawled to in a couple of years’ time!
The 2006 year of issue was the 50th anniversary of Dr Saul Wiener announcing the first Red-back Spider anti-venom. The spider on the coin’s reverse is female. Only girls have a prominent red stripe on the upper side of their black body.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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