Truly mint

Magazine layout

Clockwise from top: The famous airships collection comes complete with its own nifty airship carry case. A silver coin commemmorates the Bounty (a gold- and silver-coin set is also available for $939). The heart-shaped box has the words ‘love is precious’ printed on a picture of two swans; the mint has sold out

New Zealand Mint has a lot to commemorate

If someone told you their company's revenues had grown from $7 million to $70 million in just six years—recession or no recession—you'd say they must have a licence to make money.

You’d almost be right. That company is New Zealand Mint, which makes gold and silver collectible coins along with bullion and a bit of jewellery, mainly for export.

And just what makes a coin collectible? Almost anything, it seems. Think four coins depicting zeppelins from various countries, nestled in a ten-inch replica airship on a stand. Or a coloured coin that comes in what looks like a Fabergé egg. Or Sherlock Holmes coins that come in a working clapper board (a Holmes movie is huge in Russia), or a Sputnik coin that comes in a miniature Sputnik, complete with a recording of the first transmission sent by the first satellite in space.

Magazine layout

The five-coin ‘Great motorcycles of the 30s’ set sells for $280, complete with motorcycle wheel-themed carry box

The coins are mainly based on anniversaries and historic events, but their unique selling point is the fanatical attention to detail put into their packaging, which can take six or nine months to develop—as opposed to about two and a half months to produce the coins.

New Zealand Mint started in 1964 and became the country's largest jewellery company when there were tariff protections for local markets. It now boasts around $30 million per year in coin export revenues, with their innovative packaging expanding their market from collectors to consumers. They have a sales office in Berlin to service the European market, and also invest heavily in the Asian and US markets. If you’re in the market for a coin to commemorate the 2009 Year of the Ox, the humpback whale or the life of Anna Pavlova, New Zealand Mint will do its best to reach you.

Magazine layout

This Sherlock Holmes coin series with directors’ board is available now for $240

There are about 70 mints in the world, but most of them are government-owned so they're targeted at domestic markets. By contrast, says managing director Gary McNabb, New Zealand Mint is export focused and “very innovative in what we come up with in coin ideas, and certainly in the packaging”. It’s brash, beautiful and boutique. It's the story of New Zealand export writ large.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).