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Australia 2012-P Australian Opals Series #2 - Nocturnal Wombat Foraging with Moon & Southern Cross $1 Pure Silver Dollar Proof Piedfort

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An innovative new program! A nocturnal wombat, rendered in genuine opal, greets the moon and Southern Cross on this pure silver dollar piedfort (extra-thick coin)!

Sold out at the Mint!Opals are beautiful, translucent, and semi-precious gemstones. Gemologists consider the opal the uniquely Aussie gemstone - 95% of the world's opals are mined in Down Under! Following hot on the heels of the sold out Treasures of Australia Program, the new and innovative Australian Opals Series features native, nocturnal wildlife, rendered in genuine, Australian opals! Each pure silver dollar is struck on an extra thick planchet (it is a piedfort) with a proof finish. Each animal greets a different phase of the moon as well as the Southern Cross, the renowned constellation or star group (which is only visible in the Southern Hemisphere)!

Each case has a battery operated light that turns on when the case is opened! This light simulates the moon shining down on the nocturnal animal, and can also be used to back-light the translucent opal panel in the center of the coin! Being part of an innovative new series, and with a very low mintage limit, the Opal Wombat sold out at the Mint rapidly! Read on for articles about opals; piedfort coins; and the nocturnal wombat!

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A group of iridescent, Australian white opals similar to the ones ensconced in this 1 Ounce Pure Silver Proof from the Perth MintAvailability Note - Given the popularity of the previous Treasures of Australia Program, fast action is advised! An extremely rapid sell out at the Mint was predicted and has occurred for the Opal Wombat (just like for its predecessor, the Opals Series Koala)!

An Unique Gemstone
There is nothing else in the world like opals - so beautiful and distinctive that they have necessitated an adjective just to describe them: opalescent. Opal is Nature's own kaleidoscope, with its ever-changing, prismatic rainbow of colors that shimmers and shifts as the light strikes from different angles. This lustrous, multicolored, iridescent light show has impressed humanity since antiquity. The desirability of opals is all the more augmented by the rarity of the milky white variety, such as are contained within this coin. Of course, the desirability of this coin is also augmented by its marriage of precious, pure silver with these unique gemstones!

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Gemologist consider the opal the quintessentially Aussie gemstone. One reason for this is that about 95% of the world's opals are mined in Australia. So synonymous with the Land Down Under have opals become that it is the official gemstone of the Commonwealth of Australia!

Please see the articles later in this presentation (after the blue Specifications box) for more information about and pictures of Australian opals!

Click here for all the coins in the Treasures of Australia program!

What is a Piedfort?
Greek Corinthian Helmet and the skull reportedly found inside it from the Battle of Marathon, now residing in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.Hard to find and popular with collectors for more than a century, piedforts are highly sought after. We get asked all the time, "What is a piedfort?" There are two different, but related, stories of the origin of the word "piedfort". The first says that it literally means "strong foot" in French (from pied, foot and fort, strong). The second says this word was appropriated by the mint centuries ago to mean "heavy measure" or "heavy weight". In both cases, the sense of serious heft to the coin is obvious.

Often the word "piedfort" is translated as "double-thick", but this is neither a literal translation nor a precisely accurate definition. Numismatically speaking, any coin that is 50% or more thicker than a standard version qualifies as a piedfort, although some piedforts are, indeed, twice as thick as normal.

Finally, the age-old question, "How is the word pronounced?" Coming from French, it is not pronounced as it is spelled; that is, don't say, "pide - fort". Rather, "pee - ay - four" (three syllables) is a good approximation.

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The Common Wombat
The common wombat is one of only three extant species of wombats, large Australian marsupials. They are short-legged, muscular quadrupeds, approximately 39 inches (1 meter) in length, with a very short tail. An adult common wombat averages a weight of over 55 pounds (25 kg). They are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. The name "wombat" comes from the Eora Aboriginal community, who were the original inhabitants of the Sydney area.

A cute and furry common wombat looks like it would make a good pet, but this is not the case.Wombats' fur color can vary from sandy to brown, or from gray to black. Wombats are herbivores: their diet consists mostly of grasses, sedges, herbs, bark and roots. Their incisor teeth somewhat resemble those of the placental rodents, being adapted for gnawing tough vegetation.

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Wombats dig extensive burrow systems with rodent-like front teeth and powerful claws. One distinctive adaptation of wombats is their backwards-facing pouch. The advantage of this is that when digging, the wombat does not spray dirt into its pouch or over its young. Although mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, wombats will also venture out to feed on cool or overcast days. They are not commonly seen, but leave ample evidence of their passage, treating fences as minor inconveniences to be gone through or under.

Dingos and Tasmanian Devils prey on wombats. The wombat's primary defense is its toughened rear hide, with most of its posterior made of cartilage! This, combined with its lack of a meaningful tail, makes it difficult for any predator that follows the wombat into its tunnel to bite and injure the animal. When attacked, wombats dive into a nearby tunnel, using their rump to block a pursuing attacker. Wombats may allow an intruder to force its head over their back and then use its powerful legs to crush the skull of the predator against the roof of the tunnel, or drive it off with two-legged donkey kicks!

Wombats have an extraordinarily slow metabolism, taking around 14 days to complete digestion! This aids their survival in arid conditions. They generally move slowly, and because of this are known for taking shortcuts, but when threatened they can reach up to 25 mph (40 km/h) and maintain that speed for up to 90 seconds. Wombats are wide-ranging foragers and nocturnal, with strong instincts for burrowing behaviors. These characteristics make them unsuitable as pets, despite their cute and furry appearance.

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2012 Opals Series #2 - Wombat in BoxObverse
A nocturnal wombat forages for its midnight snack, surrounded by native flora. The moon and the constellation of the Southern Cross indicate that it's night time. The Perth Mint's "P" mint mark is judiciously placed at the 7:00 position near the rim. The legend WOMBAT defines the theme, while the legend 1 OZ 999 SILVER guarantees the weight and purity. The date of issue is also indicated.

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Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, in crowned profile facing right. This portrait, featuring Her Majesty wearing a tiara and pearl earrings, was executed by the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley. The legend ELIZABETH II and the denomination also appear.

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The coin is encapsulated inside a handsome taupe leatherette, clamshell-style presentation case, lined with black velvet and satin, and protected by a full-color outer box. Each case has a battery operated light that turns on when the case is opened! This light simulates the moon shining down on the nocturnal animal, and can also be used to back-light the translucent opal panel in the center of the coin! An individually-numbered certificate of authenticity is included.
SpecificationsA group of iridescent, Australian white opals similar to the ones ensconced in this 1 Ounce Pure Silver Proof from the Perth Mint
Country Australia
Mint Perth Mint of Australia
Year of Issue 2012
Face Value One Dollar
Weight 31.135 g
Diameter 36.60 mm
Gauge (Thickness)   4.50 mm
Mintage Limit    8,000
Finish Proof with Opal Insert
Composition .999 Fine (Pure) Silver
Edge Reeded (milled, serrated)
Artist Aleysha Howarth (obverse)
Ian Rank-Broadley (reverse)
Certificate Individually Numbered

The Andamooka (Queen's) Opal
One of the largest and most famous opal stones is the Andamooka Opal, also known as the Queen's Opal. In 1954, a search for the finest opal in the world was initiated by the government of South Australia. After an extensive quest, the Andamooka Opal was discovered in the South Australian opal fields, near the historic opal mining town from which this magnificent gem derives its name.

The famous Andamooka (Queen's) Opal set in its palladium choker necklace belongs to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II The Andamooka Opal was cut and polished by John Altmann of Sydney to a weight of 203 carats. It displays a magnificent array of reds, blues, and greens and was set with diamonds into an 18-karat palladium choker necklace. This one-of-a-kind ensemble was presented to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her first official state visit to Australia, a gift truly fit for a queen! Today, the Andamooka Opal and its attendant pieces form part of Queen Elizabeth II's personal crown jewels.

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Opal Fun Facts
• In ancient times, the opal was believed to represent both hope and purity.
• In the Middle Ages, opal was considered a stone that provided great luck because it was believed to possess all the virtues of each gemstone whose color was represented in the color spectrum of the opal.
• Opal is the traditional birthstone for those born in the month of October.
• The opal is often referred to as the "Queen of Gems".

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