On December 12, the government and treasury of the British Virgin Islands issued a new coin within their popular color-tinted titanium coin series. Their latest coin highlights an avian species, the hummingbird, prevalent on the islands and in much of the Caribbean. Hummingbirds are a diverse family of 320 species that can mostly be found throughout the Americas. They are among the world’s smallest bird species, measuring 3 to 5 inches. (The smallest of all is the tiny bee hummingbird, or Mellisuga helenae, weighing less than 2.5 grams.) Their English name derives from their rapid wing beats’ characteristic hum, which is produced at high frequencies audible to humans. They can fly at speeds exceeding 15 miles per second and can also fly backwards—they are the only group of birds able to do so.
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any homeo-thermic animal. To conserve energy when food is scarce, and nightly when not foraging, they go into torpor, a state similar to hibernation, slowing their metabolic rate to 1/15 of its normal rate. Surprisingly, they have long lifespans for creatures with such rapid metabolisms. Though many die before completing their first year of life, especially during the vulnerable period between hatching and fledging, those that do survive may, under ideal circumstances, live a decade or more. Among the better-known or heartier species, the average lifespan is probably 3 to 5 years. Hummingbird depictions are no stranger to the coins of the British Virgin Islands; prior to this new coin, the crested humming bird was featured on the 1-cent coin first issued in 1972.
The new 2017-dated collector coins are issued in both green-tinted Titanium and cupro-nickel and produced by the Pobjoy Mint, United Kingdom, on behalf of the Treasury of the British Virgin Islands. The reverse design shows an image of a hummingbird in mid-flight, hovering and collecting nectar from a flower surrounded by other flowers and foliage.
The obverse of the coin features an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that is an exclusive design by the Pobjoy Mint.
|$5||Titanium||10 g||36.1 mm||BU||7,500|
|$1||Cupro-nickel||28.2 g||38.6 mm||BU||10,000|
This new coin is issued in two different versions. The Brilliant Uncirculated cupro-nickel coin is shipped in a branded Pobjoy Mint blue presentation pouch. The BU titanium coin is shipped encapsulated in an acrylic capsule for protection and housed in a custom red box with a certificate of authenticity.
Due to the complexities of striking titanium coins and the fact that titanium reacts differently with every strike, each hummingbird coin is technically different from the others. There is also a lined effect on the coins that is unique to this metal.
For more information on this and other coins issued by the Treasury of the British Virgin Islands, please visit the website of the Pobjoy Mint. International sales dispatched where applicable. ❑