Figure of the month: 80 cm

News Arnulf Hinkel, Finanzjournalist – 01.11.2021

With a diameter of only 80 cm, there certainly are not many man-made objects that can boast of being the world’s largest of their kind, but the Red Kangaroo gold coin is one of them. The unique piece, produced in 2011 by the Perth Mint in Australia, was named after the largest known kangaroo species. The 12 cm thick gold coin with a diameter of 80 cm is actually the largest gold coin in the world and comes with a built-in anti-theft feature that should not be underestimated: it weighs roughly one tonne. The hefty weight should come as no surprise, as gold is one of the heaviest elements. The specific weight of the precious metal is no less than 19.32 grams per cubic centimetre, which means that gold is the sixth heaviest metal on earth. By comparison, lead has a specific weight of 11.34 and is thus considerably lighter.

Gold: store of value with payment function

At a weight of one tonne and a purity of 99.99 per cent, i.e. 24 carats, the Red Kangaroo is worth far more than its 1 million Australian dollar nominal value. Its material value is considerably higher, currently around €48 million. And even if it is more than unlikely that the Red Kangaroo will ever be used to conduct a purchase, it would be legal since the largest gold coin in the world is also an official means of payment in Australia. Nonetheless, even the Red Kangaroo’s much handier “little sisters”, the coins Gold Kangaroo and Silver Kangaroo, both introduced in 1986, are equally unlikely to be used as such. The face value of the gold coins, also called “nuggets”, is also far below their fine gold value. The Gold Kangaroo’s purchasing power, for example, is 100 Australian dollars, but at a weight of one ounce, its worth is actually many times that. Gold coins are thus generally no longer used as a means of payment, although some are legal tender, and not only in Australia. However, gold bars or coins as a store of value are just as much in demand today as they were 2,000 years ago, which is particularly evident in countries with very high inflation, such as Venezuela or Turkey. Not only private individuals there are increasingly relying on gold as a hard currency, and even governments are using the precious metal to conduct certain transactions with other countries or foreign companies.

The second-largest gold coin is probably the most famous

At only 100 kg, a diameter of 53 cm and a thickness of 3 cm, i.e. a lightweight compared to the Red Kangaroo, the world’s second-largest 24-carat gold coin, Canada’s Big Maple Leaf, produced in 2007, enjoys a much higher profile. It was the victim of a burglary at the Bode Museum in Berlin in 2017. Although the thieves were caught and convicted, the gold coin remains missing. The most likely scenario is that the coin was cut into small pieces and melted down. Fortunately, unlike the Red Kangaroo, the Big Maple Leaf is not a unique specimen; six were produced in total. As with the Red Kangaroo, the material value is several times higher than the nominal value of 1 million Canadian dollars per coin.

Coming in third: Big Phil

First presented in 2004 at the Prater in Vienna, Austria, Big Phil is the largest of the well-known Vienna Philharmonic gold coins (Wiener Philharmoniker). At the time, a diameter of 37 cm and a thickness of only 2 cm were sufficient to be crowned the world’s largest gold coin. Its weight of 31.103 kg was not chosen at random, but corresponds exactly to 1,000 troy ounces of gold. The conventional Philharmonic coin has a weight of one troy ounce. Big Phil was produced in a unique edition of 15 pieces in celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Philharmonic gold coins in 2004. The face value of Big Phil, at €100,000, is also far below its material value, as the coin is made of 24-carat gold.

Arnulf Hinkel
Financial journalist

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