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What funny little birds...



Collecting the New Zealand Kiwi Bullion Series

Well, a few people messaged me and accurately identified the bird pictured in my last post as a Kiwi. It's kind of a funny looking bird isn't it? A wingless, nocturnal, grub eating bird that lives in the brush. They're proof that there needs to be predators in this world. A few thousand years without a legitimate threat and nature creates something adorable but completely defenseless... which is a big part of why they're going extinct. Some had thought it might be a kookaburra. They?re from the same part of the world but I?d much rather meet a kiwi than a kookaburra. Sure, the kookaburra looks cute, it but eats the babies of other birds and kills prey by beating them senseless with its beak. Not cuddly.

Anyway... in 2004 the New Zealand mint started selling these bullion coins, apparently to help raise awareness of the danger the kiwi is in. The first 5 coins in the series (which are apparently considered a set unto themselves) honored the 5 different kiwi species. Now in 2009 they're going to start the "Icons of New Zealand" set which will include 3 coins and each coin will also have a kiwi on it. The coins have a mintage limit of only 10,000 per year for the BU coins but for reasons I haven't figured out yet, that limit wasn't reached in any year until 2009! This year they sold out in 2 months! The 2004-2008 coins on the other hand have estimated issuances of only 2500-4000! Wrap your head around that one for a minute.

The popularity of the Kiwis is starting to really pick up and the price per coin is pretty high when compared to most of the other bullion series (the early Pandas are still higher though... for now). About 2 weeks ago I picked up a pre-graded 2008 kiwi from a seller. I had been having trouble getting information on them and couldn't figure out when the series had started or why. After I bought the 2008 I finally started to find more info and almost fell out of my chair when I saw the mintages. I liked the designs on these coins and wanted the set but with those mintage numbers I started to worry about being able to build a set. Only a few 2008s have been graded, none of the other years have been graded by NGC based on the pop reports; so I'd have to send them in for grading personally. Since almost none are graded and few here collect them, I'm also not expecting these to get a competitive set or earn me any points any time soon... unless NGC decides to smile upon this poor, simple, college collector. (Think I have a prayer? ... Nah, they have more important sets to make I'm sure.)

Right after I ordered the 2008 I noticed that someone was auctioning off a complete set as individual items on eBay. I decided that that was too good of a chance to pass up and participated in the bidding. I had hoped to get the 2004-2007 and complete the 5 coin kiwi species set in one sweep. Unfortunately the prices on the early coins are pretty extreme (by my standards) and I didn't want to hurt my pocket book too badly. I had to decide to give up the 2007 so I could bid higher and get the lower mintage and harder to find 2004-2006 issues. I did win those 3 though and I'm going to be sending them in to NGC for grading this week. I can't wait to see how they do. I would love it if they could all get MS70s to go with the 2008 coin. They're too expensive to buy a bunch of them and submit several of each though so I'm probably just going to take what I can get (fingers crossed that they come back at least as MS69). Even just buying those 3, I completely trashed my coin budget. The wallet was screaming? silently. The 3 raw coins actually arrived at my house before the pre-graded 2008.

There?s another 2007 at auction that?s ending next week. I?m really tempted to go after it but I was going to use that money to get another Panda... I suppose I could just get both... I really want the 2007 kookaburra... But I really wanted that NGC MS69 1990 Panda and I?ve been looking at it for weeks... Choices... eh... Help?

For everyone's viewing (pleasure?), I've attached a picture of the 2004 (top left), 2005 (top right), 2006 (bottom left), and 2008 (bottom right) bullion Kiwis. I am every happy to have gotten these coins. I think they'll make a great and fairly unique addition to my signature set...

I'm not obsessed with that set... just very enthusiastic in its pursuit... yeah... enthusiastic... we'll go with that... that sounds better.




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