A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing?
The extremely popular Mongolian Endangered Wildlife Series has just released their 2013 design: The Ovis Ammon.
For those who haven’t been following the series, it started in 2007 with the Gulo Gulo (Wolverine), which features Swarovski crystals (a luxury brand of Austrian crystals) for eyes and quickly rose in price.
The coins are .999 silver, have a face value of 500-tögrög or tugrik (about a third of a dollar), and include 1 ounce of the old Ag (silver). The finish is a kind of sandblasted antique finish.
The gulo gulo now sells for somewhere between $1500-$3000. With a mintage of 2500, demand is very high on the series, but enough people seem to be interested in arbitrage that a healthy amount of these coins seem to always be for sale.
The Gulo Gulo won Coin of the Year in 2009. With a trademark artistic flair for a smashed-animal face fitting into the whole of the front of the coin, the series was developed by a company named Coin Invest and by all accounts is issued by the National Bank of Mongolia. There was a two year break and the next minted coin, the Ural Owl was released in 2011. The Owl was the 2013 “Most Popular Coin” winner. 2012 saw the release of the long-eared hedgehog, which quickly sold out. Prices for the owl jumped to between 800$-1200 since the hedgehog’s release (they were hovering around $400 last year).
Now, the 2013 release features the ovis ammon- the massive mountain sheep of central Asia. The male Ram has a head that hold’s nearly 10% of his bodyweight, and as an herbivore that lives up to 19,000 feet in elevation, it is a natural for the series. It’s enemies (besides poachers), feature leopards and wolves, but if you’ve seen the snow leopard try to take one down in the BBC Planet Earth series, then you know that they are really only endangered by people.
Since the previous coins have sold out so fast, this issue has been priced higher and the pre-sales have seen the price soar to close to $600 (about twice the hedgehog).
For those that collect coins, it’s easy to see why. There simply aren’t coins this impressive that come along very often. To test the theory, show somebody who doesn’t collect a picture of one of these, and the response usually ranges from awe to laughter. These are magnificent works of art, and while we wait to see if the hedgehog makes it 3 coins in a row with Coin of the Year honors, the Ovis Ammon (sheep), has come out strong. Most of the sellers offering pre-sales have sold out, and for those considering them on the secondary market, two things are essential: the ability to avoid sticker price shock, and the fortitude to handle copious envy.