The African continent is not often a place that precious metal investors in the modern era have turned to for bullion and proof quality coins, yet there is one series of coins available from the region that attracts the eye of numismatists on a yearly basis. The South African Krugerrand may have been the world’s first gold bullion coin, but the African Elephant Series of coins from the Bavarian State Mint stands as the one with the fastest-growing profile today.
One thing is for sure regarding the African Elephant Coins available via JM Bullion; these coins have an intriguing backstory and an evolving profile. Available since 1999, these exciting coins are an excellent addition to any numismatists personal collection or investor’s portfolio of gold and silver coins.
In 1999, the Bavarian State Mint introduced a new series of coins honoring the African elephant, the largest land mammal on the planet and one in danger of disappearing because poachers were hunting them down for their coveted, valuable ivory tusks. The coins were originally introduced as a national-issue coin for Zambia from 1999 until 2003.
Beginning in 2004, the nation of issue switched to the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia. Although the nation of issue changed, nothing really changed about the coin program itself. The obverse design of the African elephant had been changed every year during the Zambian issue, and that has continued through to 2016. The motif always focuses on the African elephant in its natural environment in the African wilderness.
The reverse side of the 2004-present coins feature the coat of arms for the nation of Somalia, and bear face values listed in Shillings. The face value was originally 1,000 Somali Shillings and transitioned to 100 Shillings starting in 2007. A major changed occurred in 2016, as the Somalian Silver Elephant was struck with .9999 pure silver, an upgrade from the .999 pure silver previously used.
From 1999-2003, the Bavarian State Mint used the right-profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as the reverse design of the Zambian issue coins. Her Majesty’s portrait was included along with engravings of “Bank of Zambia,” the year of issue, and the face value 5,000 Kwacha engraved along the bottom along with the crest of Zambia.
When it comes to mintage levels, the Bavarian State Mint originally kept the mintage of these coins strictly limited. Until 2008, silver coinage was capped at just 5,000 in total on an annual basis. With the onset of the Great Recession and the immense demand for precious metal products, mintage rose in 2009 to an unprecedented-to-date level of 130,000 coins. Mintage would fluctuate with demand in the coming years, sinking to a low of 80,000 in 2012 and a high of 170,000 in 2011. Today, the Bavarian State Mint continues to strike the coins to meet the demand for silver rather than using strict mintage caps.
There are no major differences between the Zambia and Somali issues of the African Elephant series. As mentioned, the obverse design feature of the elephant changes every year. This occurred from the beginning in 1999. Both Zambia and original Somali issues of the coin featured .999 pure silver and weighed 1 Troy oz.
There were no gold coins in the Zambia Elephant series though. In addition to have its own insignia on the reverse, the Zambia Elephant coin was issued only as a silver bullion coin. Today, the Somalian Elephant series has expanded beyond the scope of the original Zambia coins.
Somalian Elephant coins are available today in .9999 pure silver, .9999 pure gold, and even a gilded silver coin that features 24-karat gold finish on the elephant designs on the obverse. The coins are also now available in proof as well as bullion, with coin sizes ranging up to 1 Kilogram for the Somalian Silver Elephant coin.
Founded in 1158 in the capital of Germany’s Bavarian region, Munich, the Bavarian State Mint is the oldest operating company in the city, and one of the oldest operating mint facilities in Germany and the whole of Europe. The Bavarian State Mint was initially constructed at the Schrannenplaz, which is now known as the Marienplaz. From the first year it was opened, it was authorized to strike coins for use in local economies. Within a century of its founding though, the Bavarian Mint had come under fire for controversy surrounding the production of its coins. By the decade of 1290, coins from the Bavarian State Mint were criticized and devalued for their low silver content.
The mint went through countless periods of upheaval during the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century. From the dual-coining of Austrian and Bavarian coins during Austrian occupation (1705-1714) following the War of Spanish Succession to its establishment as a national mint during the formation of the German Empire (or Second Reich) in 1871, the Bavarian State Mint has undergone a great deal of turmoil.
In the modern era, the Bavarian State Mint is one of the five national facilities controlled by the German government. Once authorized to print and strike German Deutschemark coins, it is now one of a handful of facilities in the Eurozone authorized to produce the common currency used by members of the economic bloc, the Euro (€). Even in the modern era though, the Bavarian State Mint is no stranger to currency controversies.
Numerous dealers list the Somalian Gold Elephant coin as a bullion product with a face value of 1,000 Shillings (1 oz. Gold Coins), but its status as a legal tender coin is murky at best. The Bavarian State Mint has a government letter of authorization to produce these coins on behalf of the nation of Somalia from an individual named Barbatunde Bobulobolou. At the same time, the governor of the Central Bank of Somalia denies that the coins have any legal or official standing in the nation.
In any event, the coins status as legal tender in Somalia is in jeopardy more as a result of constant political strife in that nation than as a result of competing forms made available to the Bavarian State Mint. If nothing else, the controversy surrounding the coins has only served to increase their popularity as investors and collectors enjoy having a coin in their hands with a clouded backstory.
JM Bullion accepts various forms of payment for your purchase of African Elephant coins. You can pay by credit/debit card, with all major cards accepted with the exception of American Express (as of Dec. 2014). Paper checks, bank wire transfers, and PayPal fund transfers are also accepted by JM Bullion. Bank wire and PayPal transfers offer immediate processing, with credit/debit cards processing in one business day on average and paper checks taking 4 to 6 business days to process.
In addition to flexible payment methods, JM Bullion offers free standard shipping and insurance on all purchases over $99. Your African Elephant Coins will be packaged in discreet boxes to protect the identity of the products within, and delivered to you via the US Postal Service or UPS. For those interested, expedited shipping is available for an additional fee. If your packages are lost or damaged during shipping, we’ll find you a replacement product or refund your purchase price.
If you have any questions about African Elephants, JM Bullion payment methods, or our shipping policies, please feel free to reach out to us. Our associates are available at 800-276-6508, online using our live web chat, and via email.