Chinese Lunar Gold Bullion Coins

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While the Perth Mint of Australia deigned to make a set of coins specifically showcasing the traditional animal symbols of the Chinese zodiac, even prior to its creation, China has minted several sets of gold bullion coins revolving around the Zodiac theme. Minted from pure gold and available in a variety of different shapes and sizes, the Chinese Lunar gold coins are not quite as popular as the ones minted by the Perth Mint, and it is due to its obscurity and rarity that it is highly sought after by numismatic collectors. It is this same obscurity however that has made it a relatively uninteresting investment coin for many bullion investors, as, unlike the Chinese Gold Panda, the availability of the Chinese Lunar gold coins is often few and far flung. Began initially as a series of Zodiac-themed coins from 1981 (beginning with the Year of the Rooster) to 1992 (ending with the Year of the Monkey), the Chinese Lunar gold coins possess a unique feature not found in the Australian Lunar Coins – it mintage (divided between the Shanghai and Shenyang Mints of China, with the Shanghai coins bearing the ‘SH’ mintmark, and the Shenyang possessing no discernable mintmarks) has spawned a number of coins sharing a similar yearly motif revolving around one or the other of the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals, but with distinct differences in the portrayal and number of animals found in the coins.[1]

Within this range of variety, the obverse design also has very obvious differences between those minted in Shanghai and those minted in Shenyang, although the coinage itself follows a standard weight and size specification (as per the First Series) of 8 grams of pure 99.99% fine gold. Measuring only a trifle at 23mm, these coins are unique and fine examples of excellent workmanship, displaying highly ornate depictions of the Chinese Zodiac animals to rival even that of the Perth Mint’s own.[2] The standards of the Chinese Lunar gold coinage, unlike that that of the Australian version, did not remain at a strict constant however, and the mints began to delve into more ‘traditional’ shapes (the fan shape and the scallop shape) with every new issue.[3]

Today, the obscure Chinese Lunar gold coins flaunt unique designs endemic to Chinese coinage, among them fan-shaped, and scallop-shaped coins, further adding to its variety and uniqueness. The production of the gold coins are only limited in number, and many a year has had an absence of any mintages, while following years featured a coin specifically made for that year, making the collection of complete sets of these coins not only difficult owing to their relative unavailability in the common Western gold bullion market, but oftentimes impossible due to the obscurity of the coins themselves. Those fortunate enough to own a number of these unique coinages pride themselves in its rarity and beauty, as well as its somewhat higher value once resold or auctioned.

Available in sizes of 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20 and a more recent 1/3 oz, the coins, as the series continued in its progress, shifted from silver to gold, until a dual mintage in both metals became standardized, with coins made far more available after Western interest in Chinese gold bullion was piqued with the release of their unique Chinese Gold Panda.[4]

Another unique trait found in the Chinese Lunar gold coins are the ‘future’ mintages that is said to be available only via select market sources. These ‘future’ issues are so called due to the fact that they flaunt dates of mintage one to four years ahead of the current date (2012), with fan-shaped coins bearing mintage dates for 2013 – 2017.[5] Many numismatic forums are now catching on to the existence of these one-of-a-kind limited coins, and a number of webpages have created, dedicated to the cataloguing and procurement of these treasures. Some sources have even managed to procure images of Chinese Lunar coins made with platinum, minted in the same proof or bullion quality as the gold and silver issues.[6]

Chinese Lunar Gold Bullion Coins - References:


Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for ©

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