The Shades of Nature Series from the Cook Islands continues in 2017 with the fourth coin in the series. Leaving behind the aquatic theme from last years's Siamese Fighting Fish coin, the latest instalment of this remarkable series once again takes to the air with the 2017 Hummingbird coin.
Running since 2014 the Shades of Nature coin series is minted by the Coin Investment Trust, or CIT for short, and utilises their laser engraving techniques to achieve unprecedented levels of fine detail. Adding the much talked about smartminting technology to the mix in 2016 allowed for some of the finest details you'll likely find on a coin to be added to a high relief design. The effect is breathtaking.
Likewise the hummingbird itself has the power to capture the imagination. Possessing incredible precision in flight, it as capable of hovering in mid air with almost unbelievable flight stability. Counted as some of the smallest living birds alive, with the Bee Hummingbird measuring as little as 5–6cm (2.0–2.4 inch) and weighing less than 2 grams(0.056–0.071 oz) for an adult bird. Capable of extremely rapid wing movements of up to 50 flaps per second, which allows them also to fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54km/h or 34mph).
The reverse of the coin depicts just such a hummingbird hovering in mid air, while sipping nectar from a blooming Cardinal Flower(Lobelia Cardinalis). The detail achieved on the leaves in the background and the feathers of the hummingbird, is truly awe inspiring. Another hallmark of the series is the broken rim where the hummingbird's tail and left wing cross the coin's edge. The stylised “SHADES OF NATURE” logo along with “ '17” appear to the top of the coin.
As is typical of this series the gold clad design leaves the fields and background details with a gold finish while the coin's main subject is highlighted in silver. The bird itself and the bushel of Cardinal Flowers are accordingly left ungilded. Combining this with the remarkable life-like high relief details, it truly makes as though the foreground and background are completely separate elements.
The obverse in turn is positively pedestrian in comparison. The well known Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth at the centre of the coin is the only noteworthy element of the obverse design. The legend further describes the ruler, country of issue and denomination along the inside of the rim. It reads : “ELIZABETH II”, “COOK ISLANDS” and “5 DOLLARS”.
The coin is shipped encapsulated in a custom wooden display box depicting a colourized image of a hummingbird embossed to the top, along with a numbered certificate of authenticity. The coin is struck from 25 grams(0.88 oz) of pure .999 Fineness silver, finished with a selective gold cladding. The crown sized coin measures 38.61mm(1.52 inch) in diameter and is finished to a proof standard.
The 2017 Shades of Nature Hummingbird coin has a total mintage of 2000 coins, which sold out at the mint in short order. The coin is available to order from most reputable international coin dealers for around US$95.00 each.
Previous issues in this series have depicted the Honey Bee, a butterfly and Siamese fighting fish.
On a personal note, this is without a doubt my personal favourite modern coin series from the last five years. The CIT is not only pushing boundaries but demonstrating what is capable in terms of excellent modern numismatic design. I for one am already looking forward to next year's coin...