The Hobbit Coins from New Zealand Post Minted by the Royal Australian Mint

March 24, 2014

2013 New Zealand Al/Zn/Br Uncirculated Dollar 2 Coin Set. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug featuring The Elves Tauriel (left) and Legolas (right) (image courtesy

Have you visited the south island of New Zealand? If you have then you'll know that this country has the most incredible scenery - green pastures, snow capped peaks, slow moving glaciers, fast running streams lined with flat oval pebbles, beautiful flat lakes ringed by magnificent trees, inviting whimsical forests - just perfect for a movie set. If you're a fan of author J.R.R. Tolkien's books, or just a fantasy movie buff, then you're more than aware that I'm writing about the incredible New Zealand scenery that was the perfect backdrop for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and more recently, The Hobbit movie trilogy - with the last movie in this series "There and Back Again" anticipated to be released during December 2014.

Tolkien's books have so captured the imagination of the 21st century, it's hard to comprehend that the first inklings of what was to come was published in a poem "The Voyage of Eärendel the Evening Star," in September 1914 when he was just 22. The Hobbit (the first of his books) was actually published in 1937 when he was 45 years old, with the Lord of the Rings being published even later in 1954. Considering Tolkien survived World War I, even fighting in the trenches; then after the war coming to terms with an emerging, reshaped, resettled, reborne Europe; it's not so hard to imagine how someone could fantasize about war and desolate landscapes; idyllic fairy-like utopia's; the testing of allegiances; even the development of new cultures, languages and races - in fact, a New World Order.

While the books are brilliantly imagined on paper, it's proven incredibly difficult to adapt to other mediums and it was only in 1953 that St. Margaret's School in Edinburgh claimed to be the 1st authorized stage production and adaptation of "The Hobbit". Since then, there's been a 12 minute cartoon stills cinema adaptation in 1966, an 8-part British BBC Radio 4 drama broadcast in 1968, and even an American animated tele-movie in 1977. But it was the Soviets in 1985, who produced the first live-action motion picture "Сказочное путеше�твие ми�тера Бильбо Беггин�а Хоббита", translated into English "The Fabulous Journey of Mr. Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit". It's then been a gap of almost 10 years to 1993, before the screening of the Finnish live-action, 9 episode, televised mini-series.

2013 New Zealand 1oz Gold Proof $10 3 Coin Set (limited to just 250 sets issued at AUD$9,725). The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug featuring Thranduil (left), Bilbo Baggins (middle) and Azog (right) (image courtesy

For just a lump sum payment of £10,000 (roughly AUD $18,300 in today's currency) plus a 7.5% royalty after costs, Tolkien sold the film and merchandising rights of The Hobbit to United Artists in 1969. Considering that the Box Office revenue on just the first two Hobbit movies alone (An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug) is an estimated US $1,960,960,993 - not to mention all the merchandising to take into account - it's very sad that Tolkien never witnessed the mega industry that is the spin off from his vivid imagination - he died in 1973.

While we all know that New Zealand provided the spectacular backdrop for the movies, what is probably not well known is that in 2010 the movies were almost filmed in Eastern Europe rather than New Zealand due to an industrial dispute. Thousands of New Zealanders quickly organized mass protest rallies to proclaim the New Zealand economy was in jeopardy of being $1.5 billion worse off if production moved offshore. Exhaustive talks and rapid changes to trade union legislation saved the day.

To commemorate the pride and love New Zealanders have for these movies being made in their country, and of-course to mark the movies phenomenal success, a range of coins have been minted annually by the Royal Australian Mint since 2012. Struck in Australia these coins are New Zealand legal tender and are released by New Zealand Post. Ranging from aluminium/zinc/bronze and fine silver $1 coins right through to 1 ounce $10 gold coins, some sold as individual coins and others as 2, 3 and 5 coin sets, they all depict the movies various characters, with the 2012 coins in particular inscribed in both English and Dwarvish with the words "Middle Earth - New Zealand". All images depicted on the coins are copyright "WBEI" Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc.

2012 New Zealand Al/Zn/Br Uncirculated Dollar The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey featuring Bilbo Baggins at his home -Bag End (image courtesy

Posted by harrisk at March 24, 2014 12:04 PM
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