Kiwis issue coins of ‘The Hobbit’ realm

Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey are getting their own coins as New Zealand puts its money where its movies are.

New Zealand Post, the country’s government-owned mail service, is minting coins and printing stamps featuring characters from Middle-earth to commemorate the upcoming film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

The coins also feature the faces of dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield and three other dwarves, wizard Radagast the Brown, Lord of Rivendell Elrond and Gollum.

Though some of the collectible coins will be considered legal tender, the price range means the coins will probably be too … ahem … precious to see much circulation. The coins range from a 1 New Zealand-dollar coin retailing for about $24.43 in U.S. dollars to a 10 New Zealand-dollar coin made from pure gold that costs about $3,020.

New Zealand Post is also releasing six postage stamps featuring characters from the film, including Gandalf, Bilbo, Elrond, Radagast, Thorin Oakenshield and Gollum. Some of the coins also feature the words “Middle-earth – New Zealand” in both English and Dwarvish.

The Tolkien-themed tender and stamps went on sale Nov. 1. “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogies were both filmed in New Zealand, home to director Peter Jackson.

The first “Hobbit” film stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin, as well as returning “Lord of the Rings” actors Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Andy Serkis as Gollum, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Orlando Bloom as Legolas, Christopher Lee as Saruman and Elijah Wood as Frodo.

The film is due in theaters Dec. 14.

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