How are coins coloured?

Nov 16, 2022

Coloured coins 1080x810

Here at The Perth Mint we’ve been colouring coins since the mid-1980s. Originally coins were coloured with a process called pad printing, now they are printed on with a type of inkjet printer designed specifically to colour coins.

To date we have produced thousands of coloured coins in Australian, Tuvalu and Cook Islands legal tender, as well as special collector coins such as Lunar, pop culture and Australian themed coins – to name a few.

Coin colouring process

For decades, The Perth Mint has designed and created coins with coloured reverses (tails). First, the coins are planned by our talented and experienced designers, who apply colour to paper where the colour is required on the coin. They then provide colour references to ensure the colour match on the coin is consistent with what is planned and designed.

Next, the coins are made by our master craftspeople who create the dies used to stamp designs onto precious metal blanks. Each engraving, transferred onto a die, is struck into the collector coin exactly three times to create a flawless relief from the coin’s table. Once the engravings of the effigy are on one side and the themed design on the reverse, the coins are then placed on a tray with a camera placed over the top which gives a close-up view of the coins on a computer screen. The image of the reverse of the coin is sent to an LED UV printer which prints over the coins in layers. First a primer coat is applied to the coins followed by white and then the desired colours. The coins are then removed and placed into a UV cabinet for a pre-set time.

Once the colouring process is complete, the coins are inspected to ensure the colour is even and there are no imperfections on the coin. Each coin is then inserted into an acrylic capsule for protection against external elements. Any coins which are blemished are melted back down, cast back to blocks of metal, ready to begin the process again until perfection is reached.

The Perth Mint’s most treasured coloured coins

Meticulously designed and manufactured, our collector coins come in a stunning range of colours, metals, finishes and themes. Since the launch of our coloured coins four decades ago, there have been many themes which have proved popular among collectors, including the lunar series which is the most treasured series to date.

Established in 1996, The Perth Mint was the first to release an Australian lunar coin program, based on the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and due to its success, is now in its third series.

Made with fine gold, silver and platinum, and many coloured, these Australian lunar collector coins explore the ancient tradition and mythical folklore of the Chinese Great Race. Specifically, the Year of the Dragon 1oz gold and 1oz silver bullion coins have proven to be the most popular of the Lunar series.

Year of the Dragon coin from The Perth Mint

Aside from Lunar, Prince William’s commemorative 21st birthday coin and the Simpson’s donut coin have also proven incredibly popular with our numismatic collectors.

Prince William's 21st birthday coin by The Perth Mint

The Perth Mint

From a pioneering role in colourisation and gilding techniques to casting our world record breaking One Tonne Gold Coin, we’ve never shied away from pushing the boundaries. The Perth Mint is among an elite group of world mints producing pure gold, silver and platinum legal tender coins.

In recent years, collectable pieces featuring coloured or gilded highlights have become particularly popular. In fact, The Perth Mint can claim some of the credit for this trend, being one of the world’s first mints to pioneer these innovations.

As a result, the coining team has unprecedented experience in the application of such finishes, using electroplating techniques to enhance selected areas of the design with a layer of 24-carat gold, or using specialised print technology to add vivid colour.

To see more of our beautifully crafted coins, browse our latest catalogue or visit us in Perth to view a selection of coins and get started in the exciting world of coin collecting.