Editor's note: this is the final piece of an article about the rise of silver bullion coins. The complete story originally appeared in the July issue of Coin World.
Success begets success, and Australia in 1990 joined the growing roster of nations issuing a 1-ounce silver bullion coin.
Following China’s lead, Australia honors a native animal, in this case the Kookaburra (a bird known for its distinct laughing-like call), as the subject for its silver bullion coin. The coins are struck by the Perth Mint, which is owned by the state of Western Australia. The coins are considered legal tender and struck in the name of Australia.
The .999 fine silver $5 coin, in another nod to the Panda program, changed designs annually. The denomination was altered, though, after just two years. Since 1992, the 1-ounce silver coins are denominated $1.
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Multiple-ounce sizes have been part of the program from the beginning, with 2- and 10-ounce options, as well as kilogram-sized coins (which were also offered, along with half-ounce versions, as Proofs).
The Perth Mint now offers three distinct silver bullion coin programs. In 1999, the Perth Mint launched the second program, a series of 1-ounce .9999 fine silver coins celebrating the annual Lunar animal in the Chinese zodiac calendar. The multi-year program began anew in 2008 with a second Chinese Lunar Zodiac series.
The third entry in Australia’s silver bullion program is the Koala 1-ounce .999 fine silver bullion coin, which emerged in 2007. Three other sizes, a half-ounce, 10-ounce and kilogram coin, are offered.
Koala coins do not have a mintage limit, but rather the mintage is determined by sales during an 18-month period.
Although not as successful as Australia in its offerings, the United Kingdom is an issuer of silver bullion coins as well. The Britannia silver £2 bullion coins, introduced in 1997, 10 years after a gold bullion program began, became the flagship bullion issue for the United Kingdom. However, the coin was initially struck from Britannia silver, which is .958 fine. Although the .958 fine coins contain an ounce of silver, the Britannia £2 coin gained little traction around the world, perhaps because of the lower fineness.
The reception to the Britannia changed in 2012.