Australian Lunar Gold Coins

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The Australian Lunar gold coins are highly artistic gold bullion coins expressly minted by the Perth Mint of Australia alongside their other, more popular series – the Gold Kangaroos. So called due to its being based on the symbols or animals of the Chinese Lunar Calendar (Chinese Zodiac), these series of coins depicting the various animals of the Chinese Zodiac are highly prized and sought after by collectors and investors and is one of the most creative and beautifully crafted of the Australian gold bullion coins. Initially begun as the Perth Mint’s more ‘multicultural’ take on the bullion market, the Gold Lunar Coins have slowly become one of the most popular of Australia’s ever-diversifying selection of gold coins. Depicting the twelve characters of the Chinese Zodiac, the mintage of each coin revolves around yearly releases, with the reverse design of the coin depicting whatever animal represents that year of mintage in accordance with Chinese astrology.[1]

Initially minted in 1996 with the first bullion of the set depicting the Rat or Mouse on the obverse in celebration of that year’s ruling animal (Year of the Rat), it was shortly followed by the Ox in 1997, and every subsequent ruling animal thereafter. The entire series was meant to be completed, with depictions of all the twelve animals signs in their corresponding years, but the Perth Mint stopped the series at 2007 (with the Year of the Pig / Boar) and declared it the First Series (or Set I).[2] The production of the other Animal Years resumed in 2008 until the present day, with its resumption being referred to by numismatists as ‘Set II’ / ‘Second Series’.[3]

Just like their Gold Kangaroos, the Australian Lunar Gold Coins come in different variations of a similar theme, with a Year Animal usually being depicted one way in normal bullion coins, while being portrayed in another way in proofs. The Australian Lunar coins are also the only coins currently known to ever depict a current coin’s animal in as much as three different depictions (with some depictions even waxing cartoonish, as the case with the 2012 Dragon Coin Set,[4] where the coins bearing the image of the Dragons of Success, Longevity, and Prosperity depict slightly cartoonish dragons in lieu of the other, more ‘accurate’ depictions of dragons found in their Year 2000 Dragon). Due to the sheer variety of the Australian Lunar coins as well as their limited production run make them prime choices for numismatic collectors who hanker for the rare and the unusual. Some versions of the Australian Lunar Coin sets may even feature expertly coloured coins that belong to a whole other set of coins minted in limited quantities in that same year for the express purpose of collection.

The Australian Lunar coins depict Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side of the coin (as in mandated by law, with the coins possessing the status of legal tender in Tuvalu, with subsequent face values). The first set began in 1996 depicted a more youthful looking Elizabeth II, although the design had been changed to feature a more mature Queen by circa 1999 onwards. The obverse coin bears the legends: QUEEN ELIZABETH II TUVALU, or otherwise ELIZABETH II AUSTRALIA along with the face value of the coin. Some versions of the yearly releases may even depict the obverse in various different ways (black face, gold background / raised bust, slightly reddish background) depending on the set, the coin type, and the year of mintage. This feature adds to the collectible nature of the coin, and with limited releases, it increases its numismatic value considerably. The reverse sides are changed yearly, with different designs depicted depending on the type of coin released. Normal bullion coins usually depict the animal accompanied by a Chinese character of its name (i. e. ‘dog’, ‘dragon’), usually depicted on the right side of the coin, with the date of mintage usually inscribed on the right, and its gold purity and fractional weight below the depiction. Lunar coin proofs usually omit the year of mintage and the coin purity legends, preferring to simply place the Chinese character of the animal’s name, and the legend: ‘Year of the’ followed by the said animal’s name. Some specially minted versions even feature coloured depictions of the animals, while some even come in sets of varying depictions of animal caricatures.[5] All of these add to the diversity and variety of the coins.

As with all official Australian gold bullion, the Australian Lunar series comes in different fractional sizes or denominations, with coins ranging from 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, and 1/20 oz (with face values of A$100, A$50, A$25, A$15, and A$5, respectively). Large bullion coins (uniquely produced by the Perth Mint) are also available, with sizes ranging from 10 kg, 1 kg, 10 oz, and 2 oz (with face values ranging from A$30, 000, A$3, 000, A$1, 000, and A$200, respectively, all in their updated values).[6] All Lunar Gold Coins come packed in a clear, hard acrylic casing which protects it from scratches and general wear and tear due to viewing and handling. The casing also doubles as an excellent means to safely display the coins. Available through secure online order via the Perth Mint’s official e-store, or at any local officiated dealer in Australia, these coins are highly artistic collectibles that is sure to appreciate and enrich anyone’s coffers and collection for many years to come.

Australian Lunar Gold Coins - References:


Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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