In late 2015 Mercanti signed a deal with Numismatic Guaranty Corp. to hand-sign labels exclusively for that company, so starting with the 2016 issues, they being sold by Asset Marketing Services in NGC holders.
Each version was subsequently released in Australia and other countries as ungraded examples, typically several months or more after the U.S. release, and at lower price points than the graded coins, especially the 70-graded coins.
Under Australian law, 10 percent of the mintage of all Australian coins must be reserved for domestic buyers.
Design changes in program
For the 2014 and 2015 issues a superb, finely-detailed image of a majestic wedge-tailed eagle in flight with its wings spread appears on the coins’ reverse. Then at the start of 2016, a new design was unveiled. This time the eagle is resting, perched on a tree after it has landed.
In addition, the new design has a larger field because the eagle does not take up as much of the reverse side as it did with the previous design.
The Perth Mint told Coin World that further design changes will come in the future.
Collectors appear to have embraced the new design, but the longer-term impact of the change on sales and collector interest remains to be seen. Some buyers prefer continuity in design, while others embrace changes.
During 2014 and 2015 when the design did not change, buyers often said that with so many different versions of the coin, it would be nice to see a different design to keep things interesting.
The Perth Mint is known for being responsive to customer concerns, and it appears the 2016 design was a response to those who wanted to see something different.
Mintage levels have also been increased since the series was launched.
In 2014 the bullion version was limited to 50,000 coins, but since then the mintage for those coins has been unlimited. In June of this year, Perth plans to announce the number of 2015 coins sold. Prices for the 2014 coins have risen because they are seen as a key date due to the limited mintage.
The Proof high-relief version had a mintage of 10,000 coins for 2014 and 2015, but for 2016 that has been increased to 20,000, likely in anticipation of higher interest because of the new design.