Currency has been a form of artistic expression as long as currency has been a thing. Countries use it to highlight their culture, significant historical figures, and important milestones — but why stop there? Capitalism and currency go hand in hand, and while many countries have found a lucrative revenue stream through pop culture-inspired collectible coins, no one does it quite like New Zealand.
I don’t exactly know why Instagram has been serving me up ads from the New Zealand Mint — a country and mint that are both on the other side of the world from where I live — but I’ve got no complaints. Where else are you going to find an effigy of Jabba the Hutt on a $3,950.85 gold coin? Not even the Disneyland gift shops get that flashy.
Star Wars Millennium Falcon 85.05 g. Silver Coin ($399)
“Gimme five Corellian light freighters for a Star Destroyer” is something I assume that New Zealand residents often say to a bank teller when they’re in need of pocket change. Given the thickness of this three-ounce silver Millennium Falcon-shaped coin it’s almost certain that it’s not going to fit into the coin slot of a vending machine, but you probably won’t have a chance to find out anyways because just 3,000 of these are being minted and the whole lot is already spoken for, despite being revealed just this month.
The detailing on the front is fantastic, but the profile image of the Queen of England on the back is admittedly kind of disappointing. Couldn’t they have etched her image into the Falcon’s cockpit?
The Lord of the Rings Samwise Gamgee 28.35 g. Silver Coin ($148)
I think we can all agree that the most memorable scene in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, worthy of being immortalised on a one-ounce silver coin, was that of Samwise Gamgee gratuitously manspreading while aboard an Elven boat. There’s a reason this exact image was prominently featured on every poster promoting the movie, and now you can keep a recreation of it in your pocket, or more likely, inside its wooden themed box. (Could they really not add a golden finish to the outer ring of this coin? Really?)
The Matrix 28.35 g. Silver Coin ($148.50)
Like the original movie, this tribute to The Matrix and Keanu Reeve’s Neo is perfect: no notes whatsoever. The coin’s packaging is patterned in the Matrix universe’s digital rain effect, and while the product shots make the bullets that Neo is stopping in the air look like a random pattern of white dots, they’re actually unprinted areas on the surface of the coin, featuring a highly-polished mirror finish on the silver that’s showing through. In other words, it definitely looks a lot cooler in person.
Star Wars Classic Jabba the Hutt 28.35 g. Gold Coin ($3,950.85)
If you’re admiring your investment in a $4,000 collectible gold coin, do you really want a frog-eating, smuggler-imprisoning, space slug gangster staring back at you from the front? Most of us would say no, but the New Zealand Mint is betting there are at least 500 Star Wars fans out there who disagree and would love to add this to their very tasteful collections. Do you see the look Salacious Crumb is giving you there? You can expect that same look from your partner when you reveal what you just spent three grand on.
Batman The Classic TV Series The Joker 28.35 g. Silver Coin ($121.25)
It may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that every country on Earth needs to offer at least one piece of circulation currency featuring Cesar Romero’s Joker from the ‘60s live-action Batman series. So far only New Zealand has been brave enough to take my advice, and even then it’s only on this silver collectible coin with a limited run of 1,966 pieces. That’s a shame, but not as big a shame as not giving the etched image of Queen Elizabeth II on the back matching Joker makeup.
Star Wars Death Star 28.35 g. Gold Coin ($3,950.85)
Now this is how you convince Star Wars fans to spend almost $4,000 on a collectible that isn’t an action figure with a questionably dangerous rocket launcher. Jabba the Hutt might not be to everyone’s taste, but a $3,950.85 one-ounce gold coin that looks like the Death Star? Who wouldn’t want to fill an entire piggy bank with these? Oh, that’s right, anyone with fiscal responsibilities like rent, insurance, and taxes.
Disney Beauty and the Beast 30th Anniversary 1/4 oz. Gold Coin ($1,089.89)
It’s a tale as old as time. Someone with $1,000 in disposable income is looking for the best way to invest their windfall, and in lieu of stocks, bonds, or imaginary digital currency, why not spend the whole kit-and-kaboodle on a quarter-ounce gold coin featuring the engraved image on the front of a beast of a man — both inside and out — attempting to woo a local villager he’s imprisoned? Only 250 of these are being produced, and as hard as it is to believe, despite being introduced last year, the coin isn’t sold out yet.
Faces of Gotham Batman 28.35 g. Silver Coin ($134.87)
Somewhere at the bottom of the list of coins we actually want jingling around in our pocket is this pointy-eared Batman head made from a full ounce of silver. If you thought having a house key jab you in the leg when you sat down was painful, imagine these bat ears leaving a mark on your thigh if you’re not careful. The Mint is making 5,000 of these, so don’t feel you have to Bat-rush an online order if you want to add one to your collection.
Star Wars Grogu in Pod 28.35 g. Silver Coin ($134.87)
We’ve probably all had our fill of Grogu at this point (presumably after finding out his name was actually Grogu), but there’s no denying the little green Jedi school dropout is still adorable, and paying for a bunch of souvenirs at Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge with a $134.87 silver coin shaped like Baby Yoda in his hover pram is kind of a baller move. As with all collectible coins Grogu is 100 per cent legal tender (at least in New Zealand), but with a limited run of 10,000 and a numbered certificate of authenticity, maybe you’ll want to hold onto one of these instead.
The Lord of the Rings Aragorn 1/4 oz. Gold Coin ($1,089.89)
On one side of this $1,000 quarter-ounce gold coin you’ll find a well-coiffed image of Queen Elizabeth II wearing an elaborate crown of jewels — which seems fitting given the asking price. But on the other side is an etched image of Aragon looking forlorn and sporting a filthy head of hair. Could they not have found a more regal image of Aragon decked out in his fancy armour once he became king?