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Australia Unveils Koala Coin Made of Platinum

August 22, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Australia on Monday unveiled its Koala platinum coin, but it would be un- bear-able to treat it like other legal tender.

The face value of the one-ounce coin is 100 Australian dollars - $81.40 in U.S. currency - but the market price for an ounce of platinum bullion is more than $500.

The coins are 99.95 percent pure platinum and feature one one side the koala bear - actually a tree-dwelling marsupial that looks like a small bear. Queen Elizabeth II is on the other side. The coins come in denominations of one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce and one-tenth ounce. In issuing the coin Australia becomes the first major nation to unveil platinum coins.

The only platinum coins currently available are from the Isle of Man, a tiny country in the Irish Sea. Canada expects to have a platinum Maple Leaf coin available by Christmas.

The Koala will be on sale by mid-September. It is aimed at investors rather than coin collectors and is being priced about 5 percent to 7 percent above the market price of platinum, a relatively small markup in the coin business.

Koala coins will be available from coin dealers as well as some brokerage houses and banks. The North American distributors are A-Mark Precious Metals Inc., Mocatta Corp. and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith.

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