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Modern Chinese Lunar Coins
Your Guide to Modern Chinese Lunar Coins
Brought to you by Majestic Rarities
|What do Modern Chinese Lunar Coins Look Like?
The Lunar Cycle - Year of The Dragon
The lunar cycle has been in place for centuries. It is based on astronomy, taking into consideration the exact positions of the sun and the moon. The lunar cycle revolves around a twelve-year rotation. Each year of this cycle is associated with a different animal that reoccurs every twelve years. 2012 represents the Year of The Dragon.
Can you name the twelve lunar animals? Do you know the characteristics for each animal? What does this have to do with modern Chinese coins?
The twelve lunar animals and their characteristics are:
Dragon – confident, brave, excitable, stubborn exterior and gentle inside (warm hearted) but can have a quick temper. It is interesting to note that the Dragon is the only mythical creature in the lunar cycle.
Snake – great wisdom, determined, wise yet vain, selfish and passionate.
Horse – talented, skillful, well-coordinated, popular, impatient and independent.
Sheep – gentle, compassionate, elegant, artistic and sometimes shy.
Monkey – exceptionally intelligent, skillful, clever, inventive but easily discouraged.
Rooster – eccentric, capable, talented, disappointed easily and deep thinkers.
Dog – loyal, honest, trustworthy, generous but stubborn, born leaders.
Pig – very kind to friends, shy, honest, well informed and impulsive.
Rat – ambitious, charismatic, can get angry quickly, hard working.
Ox – easy going, patient, can be temperamental, strong, alert and good communicator.
Tiger – courageous, aggressive, can be short-tempered, sensitive, deep thinker.
Rabbit – known for being lucky, talented and clever, can be shy. /li>
What do these lunar animals have to do with modern Chinese coins? The China Mint has commemorated these animals by placing them on coins during their year in the cycle. This program has been in place since 1981 when a Rooster appeared on both an 8-gram gold and a 15-gram silver coin. This was the start of a highly successful program. These 8-gram and 15-gram coins continued being minted between 1981 and 1992. At the end of this cycle in 1992, lunar completion kilos were struck in both gold and silver. These are both very rare and highly desirable coins.
In 1988, the China Mint began another lunar series. It is important to remember the 1981 through 1992 series was not yet complete. The strength and popularity of this lunar program dictated that new coins were struck to meet the demand. This time, the coins were made larger. The largest coin in this 1988 through 1999 series is 12 ounces, with the exception of the lunar completion kilo, which was only struck in silver. The 1999 silver lunar completion kilos is very popular and highly desirable. One of the more popular gold coins from the 1988 through 1999 series is the 1 ounce gold Rat. This coin is not usually found in great condition. Always look closely for contact marks.
Coins during the 1988 through 1999 cycle were struck in primarily gold and silver. One exception was made, when 1 ounce platinum coins were struck. It is important to know this is the only lunar series in which platinum was used. Starting from 1992 through 1999, only 300 coins of each year were struck, making this a very difficult set to complete, especially in a high grade. Thus, this is also a very expensive set to own.
From 1993 through 2004, the first 1/2 ounce gold scallop series was minted. What I really like about this series is all of the coins have the same mintage of 2,300 each. The next 1/2 ounce gold scallop lunar series from 2005 through 2016 also has the same mintages per coin, except this time they are higher at 8,000 pieces each. Other lunar series also have the same mintage per coin. I am mentioning this because the previous two gold and silver lunar series from 1981 through 1992 and 1988 through 1999 have mintages per coin that are often substantially different. It seems that around 1992, the mintage figures per coins started to become much more consistent within each series.
As each new lunar coin series was struck, the China Mint became more artistic in not just the designs of each coin but the shapes as well. Perhaps this is why modern Chinese coins are so popular. There is literally something for everyone; the collector, investor and admirer. Each coin ranges is size, mintage as well as gold and silver content. There are coins that are round, scalloped, rectangular and even fan-shaped. These coins range in weight from 1/10, 1/2 and 1 ounce, 5 and 12 ounces and 1 kilo (32.15 ounces), all the way up to 10 kilos (321.5 ounces, or 22 pounds). Yes, these are exciting coins with a wide range of collectability.
As the years progressed, the mintages for many of the larger modern Chinese lunar coins were intentionally decreased. These coins were instant rarities the day they were struck. I mentioned the platinum lunar coins starting in 1992 and running through 1999 had a paltry mintage of just 300 coins each year. There are other lunar coins with mintages of as low as 118, 99, 18, or 15 pieces each. This is a brilliant concept of creating instant rarities. This keeps everyone waiting with excitement. When the demand is far greater than the supply, the prices rise and competition is forever present as only a few can possess these rarities.
Articles in the Modern Chinese Coin series:
More to Come on Modern Chinese Coins:
- Year of The Child
- Dragon, Phoenix, and more
- Quality and Grading of Chinese Coins
- Modern Chinese medals vs. coins
- 1/20th ounce Modern Chinese coins vs. kilo coins
The content of this article has been provided by Majestic Rarities. Please visit their website to see coins on display and a great deal of information contained in the blog section. Majestic Rarities has a 2012 Modern Chinese coin calendar available, and they are in the process of writing a coffee table type of book called History, Culture and Modern Chinese coins.
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