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Kookaburra Celebrates 30 Years

By Tom Michael 

Perth Mint continues their celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Australian Kookaburra with the release on June 2 of a 2-ounce silver proof gilded high relief 2 dollar coin. The high relief with selective gilding is a first for the Perth Mint. They used 24-carat gold on the high relief Kookaburra of the reverse design created by well-known graphic designer Jennifer McKenna. The reeded edge and outer ring of each side also host the 24-carat gold gilding.

The obverse offers the anniversary dates 1990 and 2020, divided by designer Jody Clark’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. Below that, at the center of the obverse, Perth Mint has honored-long time designer Stuart Devlin by featuring his original Kookaburra design with Australia’s most well-known bird perched on a tree branch. This is the original design Devlin created for the first Kookaburra silver proof coin released in 1990.

All in all, this 30th Anniversary Kookaburra coin is a great package of three well-known designers’ work. Struck on a very thick, 7.28mm blank to properly display the high relief; this large silver coin will come housed in a clear display case, with illustrated outer sleeve. Mintage will be limited to 1,000 pieces and the price will be about $200 for this stunning legal tender commemorative coin.

The obverse and reverse of the 30th Anniversary coin of the Australian kookaburra comes in silver proof with a selective gilding around the coin. (Images courtesy Perth Mint)

The obverse and reverse of the 30th Anniversary coin of the Australian kookaburra. The silver proof coin has selective gilding. (Images courtesy Perth Mint)

Other versions of this Jennifer McKenna 30th Anniversary Kookaburra coin exist also. A color version of the Kookaburra on the corrugated rooftop was released at the 2020 World Money Fair in early February with special packaging for the show. This 1-ounce silver dollar is not high relief, but the color is quite lovely. With a mintage limited to 1,500, this coin has a lower price point and can be found on the secondary market for $25-$35 or so, but should be worth more in the long run. High graded examples are seen in NGC MS-70 being offered for about $180.

There is also a special ANDA Perth Money Expo privy mark release of the 1- ounce silver dollar. ANDA stands for the Australian Numismatic Dealers Association Inc. that puts on this important annual show. This year it was held Feb. 8-9, 2020, just before pandemic concerns began to force the closing of so many numismatic shows worldwide.

The round floral color privy mark is found just behind the Kookaburra’s head on the reverse. I’ve seen NGC graded examples being offered in a range from $150 to about $190. Most of them seem to grade out at MS-70. The coin was issued in a card packaging and if you can find one of those, you will probably have an MS-70, in original card packaging at a much lower price of about $65 or so. It seems the mintage on this release was held at 2,000 pieces.

Perth mint also released an ANDA Special privy mark example for the Brisbane Money Expo on May 2. This was also a one-ounce silver strike, but with a Cooktown Orchid round color privy mark behind the Kookaburra’s head. Interestingly, the Perth program for this piece favored dealers, who were able to purchase and advertise these pieces prior to Perth’s specified release date of May 5. The Mint and its distributors held their advertising until May 5, giving dealers the upper hand from May 2 to May 5. Retail price on these was $60 for those first three days and suggested retail of $65 after that. Limited to 2,000 pieces, just like the other ANDA privy event, these coins are around on the secondary market also in a range from about $55 to $65 or so in the original card, which is very nice and featured a fold-out stand for upright display.

The standard 1- ounce silver Kookaburra issue, without color of any kind but with a frosted field and polished bird, are out there on the secondary market also. Many of the ones I am seeing offered are NGC or PCGS graded and most come out at MS-70. Prices on these high graded and encapsulated examples range from about $70 to $100. Raw, this type can be found on the secondary market in a range from about $45 to $65 or so.