Nickel-plated silver coins
As private and government mints constantly try to find new ways to attract buyers for their numismatic precious metal coins, there are always new trends emerging. One of these is the plating of silver coins with rare and seemingly exotic precious metals such as rhodium. While black rhodium-plating certainly gives numismatic silver coins a more exotic look, the same effect can be achieved with black nickel plating. What’s more, nickel-plated silver coins can be sold for lower prices (than rhodium-plated ones) due to the much lower spot price of that metal.
The Royal Australian Mint must have recognized that, as it released a special series of nickel-plated silver coins for collectors in 2019. These visually stunning coins are not only plated with black nickel but also feature selective gold-plating. Named as the “Echoes of Australian Fauna” coin series, it is made up of three different proof coins that came out in quick succession in 2019. Each of these three proof issues featured a different gold-plated animal on the reverse side. For the first-released coin, that was the extinct Tasmanian tiger. The 2nd and 3rd coin of the series featured the extinct lesser bilby and the night parrot.
Mintage of each proof issue of these three different nickel-plated silver coins with their selective gold-plating of the central animal design was strictly limited to only 5000 pieces. The silver purity of the fairly large proof coins (40 mm diameter) was 99.9% and each coin issue had an official face value of 5 AUD. The coins sold out very quickly but you might still be able to find them on eBay or other similar sites.
This limited coin edition however wasn’t the Royal Australian Mint’s only attempt to popularize nickel-plated silver coins. Also in 2019, it issued 10,000 silver proof coins that commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing. These coins were not only plated with black nickel but also stood out due to their dome shape and the selective application of color to create the image of the Earth!