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Modern Chinese Gold Panda Coins
Your Guide to Modern Chinese Panda Gold Coins
Brought to you by Majestic Rarities
|What do Modern Chinese Panda Gold Coins Look Like?
The Panda - Part 1
The Panda was first struck for production in 1982. This year marks the 30th anniversary for one of the most popular and highly recognized animals pictured on a coin. It is important to mention a few of the key factors that have helped develop and enhance the amount of people who actively seek Modern Chinese Panda coins. I think the China Mint is genius in their concepts.
Panda coins can be collected for their rarity or purchased as bullion, depending on the type of Panda and the mintage. The China Mint strikes something for everyone. This is part of the reason the Panda has been so popular. Whether you are a serious collector/investor or just a person who happens to like a certain design, you can find something in the Panda series.
The design of the Panda depicted on each coin changes each year. This is a great idea that most Mints do not take into consideration. Most people do not want to see the exact same picture on a coin year after year. For the Panda and many Modern Chinese coins, this is not the case. The change is welcomed and embraced by the public. There is great competition among the engravers to develop the design that will be chosen for that particular year. This is a powerful reason why the Panda has continued to gain strength and attention in its worldwide circulation.
The China Mint uses different precious metals to strike the Panda. It is not uncommon to find these coins in silver, gold, platinum and palladium. Once again, this is aimed at allowing anyone who wants to purchase a Panda to do so in their price range depending on the composition of the Panda.
Panda coins are struck in many different sizes. This accommodates the people who like large coins while others may prefer small coins. A typical person can purchase a one-gram Panda (smaller than the end of a pen cap) all the way up to a 5 kilo gold Panda, 11 pounds or 160.75 oz’s, (more like the size of a hubcap on a car.)
What attracted me to Pandas? Was it the designs for each Panda, that each design changes yearly, the size variation of the Pandas offered, being available to purchase Pandas in Silver, Gold and Platinum?
These were all contributing factors. However, for me, the appeal was the extremely low mintages of these Modern Chinese Panda coins. As a coin collector, investor and now a dealer, this played a huge part in my entry into this market. As I always say, “rarity does not go out of style.” This is the theme for so many of the Modern Chinese coins. This is why I think the China Mint is brilliant. They create instant rarities by striking coins with low mintages. This in itself keeps every program strong in that the demand exceeds the supply.
Evolution of the Gold Panda
Mint State 1 oz and smaller Gold Pandas
As already mentioned, the Panda was first stuck in 1982. When first issued, the Panda was only available in gold. The sizes struck were 1 oz, .5 oz, .25 oz and .10 oz. Only four sizes were available at this time. These were not well made due to poor dies and poor planchet preparation. High-grade sets from 1982 always command a large premium.
1983 also saw the addition of the .05 oz Panda coin being added to the date sets. This was the start of the five piece Gold sets. One would think these small .10 and .05 would not be well received due to their small size. Actually, these coins were a big hit because they were affordable and also could be used in jewelry. Therefore, many of these smaller coins have a much lower survival rate due to being used in jewelry. Think about this the next time you see someone wearing a Panda ring, necklace, earrings, etc.
Within the gold Panda series are a number of large and small date coins. It should be noted that depending on a certain variety, the price could be substantially different.
Gold Panda Proof Sets
1986 was the start of the Panda proof sets. The mintages were high for Modern Chinese coins (roughly 10,000.) To differentiate the proof coins from the mint state coins being struck at the same time, a P was added to the proof coins. These five coins sets containing 1.9 oz’s of Gold continued until 1992. As each year passed, the proof sets had lower mintages and became more expensive with 1992 as the King of the Panda proof sets. There are probably only 800+ sets of these available. Not all of these are in great condition. To find a complete set in grade Proof 69 could cost in excess of $23,000. It was not that long ago these sets could be purchased at what many people thought was an extremely high price of $5,000. It was another case in which rarity, rarity, rarity is a key factor.
In 1993 and 1994 the China Mint replaced the 1 oz gold Panda with a bimetallic Panda. The proof set still contained five coins, just a lower amount of Gold with the advent of the bimetallic coin. The 1993 set is seen often, while the 1994 set is very rare. It is believed there are just over 900 of the 1994 sets available.
1995 and 1996 are the only two years in which there were only 1 oz gold proof Panda coins minted. No sets, just these single 1 oz gold proof pieces. The planned mintage for the 1995 was 2,000, but it is estimated only 555 proof Pandas were actually struck. This is the single most expensive 1 oz gold proof Panda only to be followed by its counterpart, the 1996 1 oz gold proof Panda that had a planned mintage of 1500, and I am not sure of the actual mintage. I have to mention that the 1995 proof Panda was the most expensive Modern Chinese coin I had purchased when first starting to develop an inventory in 2005. I think the design is spectacular and rarity was perfect for what I wanted at the time. I think I paid around $4,000 for a coin that is now valued in the $20,000 range. I think both the 1995 and 1996 proof gold Pandas are coins that should be in every collection.
5 oz Gold PandasThe first 5 oz gold Panda was minted in 1987. This was only minted in two years at the start, 1987 and 1988. Both years had relatively high mintages of roughly 3000 pieces each. I believe many of the 5 oz and 12 oz Gold Pandas have been melted, so the surviving pieces are now much less.
Starting in 1992, the striking of 5 oz gold Pandas resumed. This time, the mintages were very small at 99 or less pieces minted. The number of the coin was not stamped into the edge until 1993. What is interesting is in 1995 and 1996 the China Mint struck a bimetallic Panda, the largest of its kind at the time. It contains 5 ounces of gold surrounded by a 2 oz silver ring. These are both rare and highly desirable Panda coins. They also have the number of the coin stamped into the edge.
I have to mention this even though I have never seen this coin. Supposedly there was a 5 oz bimetallic coin issued in 1997. There are pictures in every book, but I have yet to see this coin.
All of these 5 oz gold Pandas from 1992 – 1996 are very rare and expensive pieces. For reference purposes, the first 5 oz gold Panda in this series I purchased for roughly $15,000 back in 2007. They were trading for just over $80,000, depending on the date and the condition in 2011.
12 oz Gold Pandas
1984 witnessed the birth of one of the largest gold coins in the year of issue. The China Mint introduced the 12 oz gold Panda. This had a mintage of only 250 pieces. Each coin had a number stamped into the edge of the coin. Once again, these were poorly made as the 1982 coins due to problems with the dies and planchets. Another contributing factor is these large Pandas were not encased in a hard plastic holder. They were issued in a soft plastic cover that did not protect the coin. Due to the weight, these coins are mostly found with scuff type of marks from stacking and handling. It is not unusual to find rim dings and frost breaks as well. To find a 1984 in a high grade is very rare. Most of these coins grade in the Proof 62 range with the finest known in Proof 67.
The China Mint did not strike 12 oz gold coins in 1985 and 1989. In 1986, 1987 and 1988, the China Mint struck these 12 oz Gold Pandas as more of a bullion-related coin. They have mintages from approximately 1600 – 3500 pieces. From 1990 – 1995, the 12 oz gold Pandas returned with much lower mintages than found in the mid 1980s - mostly in the 99-piece range after 1990. I think the 1991 is one of the more elusive and almost never seen 12 oz Gold Panda coin. This is the most under rated and under valued 12 oz Gold coin. Here is something interesting, the 1990, 1991 and 1992 12 oz Gold Pandas do not have a number stamped in the edge. This started again in 1993-1995 for this series.
Kilo Gold Pandas
Now we are getting into the area I think are some of the most interesting Modern Chinese coins minted, the gold Panda kilo. When you stop and think about this, you have a very large gold Panda containing 32.15 ounces or 2.2 pounds of Gold with the most beautiful designs (I think these are a work of art from both a visual standpoint and minting accomplishment) with a mintage of 58, 68, 100, 200 and now 300 pieces depending on the date.
The gold kilo Panda program began in 1997 with only 58 pieces minted. Ironically, there were no Gold Kilo Pandas minted in 1998, however, this program resumed in 1999 and continues today. Once again, each coin has the coin number stamped into the edge of these massive coins.
From 1999 – 2004, the mintage of these gold Panda kilo coins was increased to 68 pieces. As the demand increased, so did the mintage. In 2005, the mintage was 100. In 2006 – 2010, the mintage increased once again, this time to 200 pieces. Starting in 2011, the mintage became 300. The progressive increase in mintage is a clear indication of the demand and popularity of these stunning gold Panda kilo coins.
These gold Panda kilo coins were not always so popular. It was not until the end of 2009, 12 years after the start of this series, when these gold Panda kilo coins began to be noticed and prices really took off to reflect the rarity. At one point, I could purchase these for as little as 15% above the spot price of Gold. Today, some of these Gold Panda Kilo coins sell for in excess of $200,000.
The China Mint has done everything to differentiate itself from another “me too” type of mint. They have been leaders and innovators from design and striking techniques used with the Ggold Kilo as the flagship coin in the Panda Series.
In 1991, to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Panda program, a 5 Kilo Gold Panda was produced. The mintage was only 10 pieces. Unfortunately, one of these was melted due to the owner not knowing the prized possession that was in his hand. Many of these 5 Kilo Pandas now reside in museums. I am noting this because the amount of pieces available for the public to purchase has been cut in at least half. I believe this will play a huge part in the price appreciation of this coin. This was the first Modern Chinese coin and first Panda to breach the $1,000,000 barrier. Since this time, several other Modern Chinese coins have surpassed the $1,000,000 level.
One of my favorite coins was struck to celebrate the 10th anniversary. It is a 1 oz gold piefort Panda. It is the size of a .5 oz, but because it is double thick, it contains 1 oz of gold. The amount that survives of high quality is much less than the planned mintage of 2,500 pieces. They also made two medals for this 10th Anniversary, one medal in Silver and the other in Bronze/Gilt. Both have low mintages of less than 1,000 pieces. They both are identical except for the metal composition.
The coin chosen to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Panda program in 2002, to no surprise, was also a larger coin. This time a silver kilo was used to commemorate the 20th anniversary. The mintage was high at 6000 pieces. However, this coin is not seen nearly as often as many of the other silver Panda kilos with much lower mintages. People buy this and keep it for themselves. What makes this coin so special is that the 1982 gold Panda is shown as a gold inlay on the surface of this Silver Kilo. The 3 grams of gold used to show the 1982 and 2002 obverse really help to highlight and make this silver Panda kilo something special.
What will be designed to celebrate this 30th Anniversary of the Panda, one of the most successful Modern Chinese coin programs? It is clear, bigger is better when it involves rare Modern Chinese coins. Rare, Modern Chinese coins is the area we have chosen to specialize. Please contact us about coins you would like to sell, purchase or with any questions. Please email us at npb@MajesticRarities.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
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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