Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin, Coin from Cook Islands - detailed information

Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin, Coin from Cook Islands
CoinFifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin

The Cook Islands, a sovereign state in free association with New Zealand, uses two official legal tender currencies. The New Zealand Dollar circulates in parallel with the local Cook Islands Dollar; at the same time, the government also authorises many legal tender coins in the Cook Islands Dollar currency for collector's purposes.

Collector coins are dedicated to historical or general popular culture themes not related to the country itself. Many of them are in standard bullion sizes, but the silver Fifty Dollars - such as this coin - are not; their weight is more than a half ounce but less than one ounce, and also less than that of a British Crown, even though the diameter is the same as the latter (hence, the coins are thinner).

This coin was issued as part of a Royal Mint twelve-coin set featuring Endangered Wildlife, and is dedicated to the Jackass Penguin.

The jackass penguin is closely related to the temperate penguins of South America (the Humboldt penguin, the Galapagos penguin, and the Magellanic Penguin), and these four species are together known as the banded penguins.

Jackass penguins lay clutches of two eggs in burrows that they dig out of the thick layers of guano (seabird droppings) that cover the coastline throughout their range. While one parent feeds, the other parent guards the nest. Incubation takes longer than one month. Jackass penguins form strong pair bonds and remain with the same partner for their entire lives. They are foraging predators that primarily eat small fishes, and they typically hunt within a few hundred kilometres of their nesting sites. They are prey for the large marine predators of the area, namely sharks, fur seals, and killer whales. Like all penguins, jackass penguins provide significant parental care for both the eggs and the chicks.

Jackass penguin populations are decreasing, and scientists consider the species to be endangered (highly vulnerable to extinction). Experts believe that much of the decline is a result of decreasing amounts of their favourite fish prey, a result of over-fishing. Damage to nests resulting from guano mining, tourism, and direct egg collection threatens this species’ ability to recover. Finally, oil spills are particularly dangerous for jackass penguins and other seabirds. Like all birds, these penguins must breathe air and if they surface in an oil slick, they are very likely to die. Each of these threats is a major concern for jackass penguin populations. When they are all combined, the species is placed at risk of extinction. Fortunately, this species is afforded some or complete legal protection throughout its range. Unfortunately, those efforts rarely extend to human activities that incidentally threaten individual birds (like oil spills, over-fishing, etc.). Continuing scientific research and conservation efforts are both vital to ensure that decreasing population trends are reversed.

MintRoyal Mint Mint MarkNo mint mark Total Mintage25,000
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Cook Islands / Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin - obverse photo

The obverse of the coin shows the crowned bust of Queen Elizabeth II, facing right (her effigy known as the "Third Portrait"). The Queen is wearing the royal diadem which she wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament, a pearl necklace and earrings.

Incuse in tiny letters on the neck truncation, the designer's initials RDM (for Raphael David Maklouf).

Around, the monarch's legend and the date of issue: ELIZABETH II COOK ISLANDS 1991.

Obverse Inscription ELIZABETH II COOK ISLANDS 1991
Cook Islands / Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin - reverse photo

The reverse of the coin shows two Jackass Penguins in their natural habitat.

Around above left and right, the name of the series: ENDANGERED WILDLIFE.

Around below, the face value and denomination 50 DOLLARS.

EdgeMilledEdge InscriptionNone

Finish: proof.

Note that the Royal Mint announced mintage of 25,000 for each coin in the set but only 1,000 sets. At the same time, it does not appear that the coins were issued separately. It is probable that the 1,000 number applies only to sets that contain a Certificate of Authenticity.

Issued in Set
Endangered Wildlife Silver Proof Coin Collection 1991, mintage 1,000
12 coins: Alpine Ibex, Deer, Eagle Owl, Eastern Cougar, European Otter, Hummingbird, Jackass Penguin, Kangaroo, Lion, Peregrine Falcon, Dolphin, Persian Fallow Deer
Royal Mint
Royal Mint
Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin: Details
CountryCook Islands
CurrencyCook Islands Dollar
Coin TypeFifty Dollars, Silver
MonarchQueen Elizabeth II
EffigyQueen Elizabeth II - Third Portrait, by Raphael Maklouf
Face Value50 (x Dollar)
Total Mintage25,000
Material0.925 Silver
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
OrientationMedal Alignment (Axis 0)
Size38.610 mm
Mass19.200 g
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Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin: Photos
Jackass Penguin on Reverse of 1991 Cook Islands Silver Proof 50 Dollars
Copyright: Chards
Obverse of 1991 Cook Islands Silver Proof 50 Dollars
Copyright: Chards
Fifty Dollars Silver 1991 Jackass Penguin: Catalogue Reference IDs
SourceReference ID
Krause, Standard Catalog of World CoinsCook Islands KM# 128