Finding a way to effectively capture some of nature's most remarkable spectacles on a small piece of silver is not an easy task, and numismatic catalogues are littered with failed attempts at doing just so. This is, perhaps, what makes it all the more noteworthy when a mint manages to capture something so transcendent on a small metal round.
Recently the New Zealand Mint managed that with their Great Migrations series and certainly the Royal Australian Mint deserves a mention of their fantastic Northern Skies series of domed silver coins. Add to that list now, the “2017 Southern Lights Silver Proof” coin from New Zealand.
The coin depicts the Aurora Australis, the somewhat lesser known sibling of the northern Aurora Borealis, as seen from a picturesque vantage point in New Zealand. However, instead of creating a sculpted design or simply creating another colourized coin, the New Zealand Reserve Bank have authorised the release of an innovative holographic treatment.
The reverse design features a partially colourized section depicting the evening skies above New Zealand. The coin manages to replicate the dancing and shimmering light show that is the Southern Lights with a unique holographic foiling technique applied to the colour section of the coin. The foreground depicts the sculpted image of the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo inside the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. The legend reads “SOUTHERN LIGHTS AURORA AUSTRALIS” along the top rim, with “$1” in a reverse proof finish to the bottom right.
The aurora in the southern skies can range from brilliant greens to gold and vivid violet and crimson reds. This effect is produced naturally when ionised particles are pushed into the earth's upper atmosphere by solar winds. The resulting light show can be seen best from high altitudes and has managed to capture man's imagination for ages. I can only imagine what primitive man would have made of such seemingly otherworldly displays.
The coin's obverse is nothing nearly as exciting though, featuring the recognisable Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The legend appears in a clockwise direction and reads : “NEW ZEALAND”, “ELIZABETH II” and “2017”.
The 1oz silver coin is comprised of .999 Fineness silver and measures 40mm(1.5748inch). Struck on behalf of the New Zealand Reserve Bank by the Helvetic Mint, the coin has a total mintage of 1500 coins. Only available in a proof finish, the coin can be ordered directly from New Zealand Post who are the coin's authorised distributors. It is shipping in a black lined clamshell style presentation case, and is being made available for NZ$149.00 (roughly US$108.00) each.