Silver $1 coins have been released by the Royal Australian Mint featuring works from Indigenous artists depicting astronomical teachings.
The coins showcase ‘The Emu in the Sky’ and ‘The Seven Sisters’ by Aboriginal artists Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney from Wiradjuri in NSW and Wajarri-Noongar woman Christine ‘Jugarnu’ Collard from Western Australia.
The ethereal features in the artworks are prominent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander astronomical teachings across the country and show flora and fauna, seasonal changes and cultural insights into Indigenous knowledge.
Just 5,000 of each coin have been produced, making them certain to become popular with collectors and unique coin hunters alike.
‘Indigenous Australians were the first astronomers and have been using the stars as navigation maps, calendars and to tell stories for tens of thousands of years,’ a Royal Australian Mint description reads.
The Emu in the Sky by Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney is one of two new silver $1 coins made by the Royal Australian Mint
Director of Town Hall Coins and Collectables David Jobson told Daily Mail Australia the coins were silver as they were made with collectors in mind.
‘The coins are not for circulation, they are made for collectors,’ he said. ‘They are quite large, larger than a fifty cent piece and weighing half an ounce of silver.’
The Emu in the Sky is a dark constellation known as Gugurmin, with the coin artwork showing the emu stretching from the Southern Cross to Sagittarius in front of the Milky Way.
Mr Towney is from the Wiradjuri clan in NSW
Mr Towney’s Wiradjuri clan from central NSW are known for linking the people and land to the cosmos in their astronomy, which is known as Wantanggangura.
In Wiradjuri astronomy, when Gugurmin rises at dusk in April and May it signifies the beginning of emu breeding season before nesting in June and July and hatching in August and September.
A male emu sitting on eggs is seen on the base of the coin, along with three men in a dancing ceremony.
Mr Towney’s artwork was implemented into the Australian National Curriculum for Year 7 and 8 students to study Indigenous astronomy, as well as in Stellarium planetary software to show Indigenous knowledge of the movement of stars.
Ms Collard’s piece The Seven Sisters uses knowledge from the Yamaji people from the Murchison region in Western Australia.
The artwork shows the Pleiades star cluster as the seven sisters, which is known as Nyarluwarri, awaiting the emu egg harvest on the horizon at sunset in April.
The Seven Sisters by Wajarri-Noongar woman Christine ‘Jugarnu’ Collard from Western Australia tells the story of Nyarluwarri
The traditional story involves Nyarluwarri taking to the sky to avoid a man seeking one of the sisters as a wife, where they travel from east to west in the sky every night.
Nyaluwarri are seen moving to the left across the base of the coin before an emu rises from the southeast after the seven sisters set after the sun in the west.
Both pieces featured in the Ilgarijiri art exhibition, which translates to ‘things belonging to the sky’ and aimed to expand and share Indigenous astronomical knowledge using modern technology.
Mr Jobson said although the value of both coins was $1, he wouldn’t recommend cashing them in.
‘All the coins have a face value, so technically you could spend it, but at $70 each I wouldn’t advise it,’ he said.
Mr Jobson said The Emu in the Sky has been more popular than The Seven Sisters in his store and predicted their value to increase into the future.
‘In this particular series, the coins are really striking and have become really popular because of their design,’ he said.
‘I would imagine these would do pretty well into the future.’
A third coin in the series is set to be released next year.
Both artworks featured in the Ilgarijiri art exhibition, meaning ‘things belonging to the sky’ with only 5,000 of each coin made
Unique coins from rare batches or misprints can often be worth far more than their monetary value.
Coin collectors are bidding for a unique $1 coin called a ‘mule’ through auction site The Purple Penny.
The mule is a hybrid of a 10 cent piece and a $1 coin and was in production at the Royal Australian Mint for a year before the mistake was discovered.
The coins are thicker than a regular $1 coin, with a double rimmed edge and a picture of the Queen on the back.
‘The mule was made when a technician at the Mint in Canberra accidentally paired the mob of ‘roos dollar reverse with the Queen’s head obverse, normally used for the 10 cent piece,’ the Australian Coin Collecting Blog reads.
The mule is being offered for $4,250 and is described by the auctioneer as ‘the nicest we’ve ever seen’.
‘Easily in the top 10 known coins of this type,’ the description reads. ‘Almost impossible to improve on and represents excellent value.’
A rare ‘mule’ coin (pictured left) is being sold in an online auction for more than than $4,000