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Many Coins for Year of Horse
By Kerry Rodgers, World Coin News
January 03, 2014

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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The Chinese New Lunar Year kicks off on Jan. 31, 2014. It is a Year of the Horse (YoH). Specifically it is a Jia Wu or Wood Horse year and will run until Feb. 18, 2015. In continuous reckoning it is Year 4711.

Collector thirst for annual lunar coins continues undiminished. The demand sees an escalation in issue numbers in 2014. New countries and new mint products jostle for market share of the world’s largest numismatic program. Importantly, Great Britain and Russia have now joined the annual lunar fray.

Perhaps it was the intensity of competition that led to one of the relative newcomers taking first place in the early-release lunar stakes. Treasures of Oz dispatched its first Tokelau coins in early July [treasuresofoz.net/blog]. A month later on Aug. 5 the two Australian mints announced their YoH coins to dealers. The Royal Canadian Mint followed suit on Aug. 9 with New Zealand Mint chiming-in on Aug. 22.

As this compilation is being assembled Lunar New Year’s Eve is still weeks off. At this point most of the world’s mints have elected to celebrate YoH with their customary products: bullion, proofs and specimens. But some novel and desirable items have also emerged to tantalize collectors.

Large size 1-kilo and 10-kilo gold and silver coins are still in demand with a secondary market well-developed in China. Ongoing fluctuations in bullion values continue to impact prices of larger lunar items, especially those super-sized bullion issues. Consequently, prices of these products can be expected to see-saw as the year wears on. At the time of writing gold was selling in New York for $1,242 an ounce with silver at just over $20, both are over 20 percent below their spot prices this time last year.

Not all YoH issues are noted here. Major mints are included but only some of the smaller players. The proliferation of issues has necessitated confining mint details to a simple summary of each coin type. For each denomination the diameter, weight, metal composition and mintage are given in parenthesis. The metal is specified as Cu-Ni for cupronickel, Al-Bz for aluminum bronze, Cu for copper, Ag for silver and Au for gold along with the millennial finesses of Ag or Au.

Before proceeding further we should have a word or two about the calendar being honored.

The horse came in seventh in the celestial Great Race that determined the order of animals in the Chinese lunar zodiac. Attentive readers may recall that last year the snake hitched a ride by coiling around the hoof of the galloping horse. As the finish line approached the well-rested snake slithered off. Its sudden appearance caused the horse shy and bo be beaten at the post by the opportunistic snake.

The horse people of the world are extroverts and free spirits. They generally prove vivacious and enthusiastic with a great sense of humor. Charming and cheerful is the way of the horse.

Horses are diligent workers, quick, innovative, and seemingly assured. Commonly they are resourceful and mentally alert. Through skill and application they can acquire power, wealth and respect. But, in truth, horses are cunning more than intelligent – and they know it. Despite their air of easy assurance, they lack confidence.

On the downside horses can be obstinate. In their frankness they can be tactless. They tend to become bored and act on impulse. Expect mood swings in a horse up to and including explosive temper tantrums. And in their pursuit of success they can become selfish and predatory. Your typical horse is made for politics.

A horse in love is forever young at heart. They are dedicated and enthusiastic romantics, capable of great charm and affection. If a relationship can survive a horse’s capacity for boredom it will grow to be successful.

Wood gives a horse stability and strength. Wood horses are predictable and disciplined. They are successful in their professional and personal lives – although never, ever, tell a wood horse what to do.


Tokelau
The tiny Pacific nation of Tokelau was first off the lunar rank in 2013. It was the second year the country has contributed coins to the Lunar New Year celebrations. Most have been produced by Treasures of Oz (www.treasuresofoz.net) but not all YoH Tokelaun coins carry the words, “Year of the Horse.”

Appropriately the YoH Lunar New Year issues commenced with a silver $5 (38.6 mm, 31.1 g, .999 Ag) showing a mare and her new foal on the reverse. This is the principal issue from Tokelau and is struck as a proof (2,500), reverse proof (50,000), gilded (2,500), antiqued (2,000), and BU (500,000). Each variety was released progressively from July through December.

In addition a three horse ying-yang dollar is available in two sizes (38.6 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag, 2,000; 65 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag, 1,500). Both come as colored proofs with the 65 mm version also produced with a colored antiqued finish. Two other colored proof YoH dollars (38.6 mm, 31.1g .999 Ag, 2.500) shows a troika trotting though the snow.

For those who want more, four carousel horses trot around a silver ring on a pierced $10 colorized proof (70 mm, 2 oz .999 Ag, 2,500).

In their YoH release Treasures of Oz also include two horse-related silver $5s (38.6 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag): one displays a unicorn and the second Pegasus. Both are available as reverse proofs (50,000), proofs (2,500), gilded (2,500), antiqued (2,500), or colored proofs (5,000).

And from Modern Numismatics International [MNI] in the Netherlands comes a colored oval Tokelauan proof $2 (35 x 45 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag, 2014). A prancing stallion is surrounded by representations of four of the five elements of Wu Xing: earth, water, air and fire. The fifth element is present in the metal of the coin.


Australia – RAM
As in the past seven years, the RAM has produced its three regular lunar issues: a BU dollar (25 mm, 9 g Al-Bz, unlimited); proof dollar (25 mm, 11.66 g .999 Ag, 10,000); proof $10 (17.53 mm, 1/10th oz .9999 Au, 2,500).

It is the third year for the Mint’s tetra-decagonal BU 50 cents (31.51 mm, 15.37 g Cu-Ni, unlimited). The reverse design is by Alex Vorodeyev. It shows a feisty horse. This coin is available in two different packagings.

For the second year the RAM has produced a series of six, Australian, legal tender, proof-like, gold and silver lunar coins. In .9999 Au are: $3,000 (74.77 mm, 1 kg, 100), $500 (59.80 mm, 5 oz, 1,000), $100 (38.74 mm, 1 oz, 1,500). The .999 Ag consist of: $30 (99.95 mm, 1 kg, 1,500), $10 (65.10 mm, 5 oz, 5,000) and $1 (40.00 mm, 1 oz, 10,000).

The designs of these particular pieces are by Chrissy Lau. The 1 oz and 5 oz coins feature a “Kicking Horse” derived from a painting dated to the reign of Ming Emperor Chénghuá (1465-87). The reverse of the 1 kg coins is based on the Eight Horses Of Wáng Má. These are the steads that carried King Mu of Zhou to sample the peaches of immortality.

The gold $500 and $3,000 are made to order only and can be ordered through the RAM call center. The remainder can be sourced from the Mint’s eShop (www.ramint.gov.au). In addition this year all RAM lunar issues are available from www.downies.com.


Australia - Perth
The Perth Mint’s seventh issue of their Lunar Series II coins include the traditional proofs and bullion seen in previous years along with special editions. A summary is given below but readers need to keep a weather-eye on Perth’s website: www.perthmint.com.au. Further releases can be expected throughout much of the coming Lunar year.

The reverse of all gold issues shows a horse galloping across a plain beneath cloud-capped mountains. The silver reverse shows a pair of horses fronting a stylized landscape. Both designs are the work of Tom Vaughan. Both carry the Chinese character for “horse” along with the “P” mintmark for the Perth Mint where appropriate.

Proofs: As in previous years, the three .9999 Au proofs consist of: $15 (18.60 mm, 1/10 oz 8,000, 8,000), $25 (22.60 mm, 1/4 oz, 8,000) and $100 (39.34 mm, 1 oz, 6,000). Mintages have been increased from last year and include 3,000 three-coin sets containing one of each proof.

The four .999 Ag proofs come as $0.50 (36.60 mm, 1/2 oz, 9,000), $1 (45.60 mm, 1 oz, 8,500), $2 (55.60 mm, 2 oz, 2,000) and $30 (100.60 mm, 1 kilo, 500). The mintages include 1,000 sets containing the 50 cents, $1 and $2 coins.

Bullion: Perth’s .9999 Au lunar bullion is in its 19th year while the .999 Ag bullion marks its 16th.

This year there are nine gold and seven silver coins. They include 10 $30,000 10 kg gold pieces and 200 $300 10 kg silver pieces. These will be produced on a mint-to-order basis. Otherwise denominations and dimensions are as for last year. Details can be found on the Perth Mint’s website.

Transformations: For the third year running Perth’s gold proof $15, $25 and $100 lunar issues are available with colored reverses. Mintages are 5,000 each of the $15 and $25 and 3,000 of the $100.

And, as usual Perth’s silver lunar dollar comes in a gilded version and as a colored proof. The gilded, colored, bullion and proof dollars are available as a single packaged set. This coin is also available in a high relief striking on a 6mm thick flan (32.60 mm, 31.135 g .999 Ag, 7,500).

For a third year a colorized proof 50 cents (36.60 mm, 1/2 oz .999 Ag, 10,000) is available.

And once again Perth has released a colorized 1 kilo silver $30 (5,000) with a white diamond all a-glitter in one of the horses eyes.

The obverse of all of Perth’s coins shows the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, the 2014 solar year-date, the monetary denomination and, where appropriate, the weight, composition and fineness of the precious metal. If your local dealer can’t supply, try Perth’s web shop: www.perthmint.com.au.

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Canada
First up is a continuation of the designs of Aries Cheung: a $15 proof (38 mm, 31.39 g .9999 Ag, 28,888) and a $150 proof (28 mm, 11.84 g .750 Au, 2.500).

A new lunar designer has been introduced: Canadian artist Simon Ng. His first RCM reverse contribution shows a classic Chinese horsehead that captures the essence of the heavenly animal. It appears on the reverse of a $10 (34 mm, 15.87 g .9999 Ag, 58,888).

This is the fifth year of issue for the RCM’s distinctively-shaped, scalloped Lunar Lotus $15 designed by Three Degrees Creative Group (38 mm, 26.7 g .9999 Ag, 28,888).

And a Three Degrees rearing horse features on the reverses of the RCM’s two 1-kilo proof lunar coins introduced last year for the first time: $250 (102.1 mm, 1 kilo .9999 Ag, 388) and $2,500 (101.6 mm, 1 kilo .9999 Au, 18). These mintages are less than in 2013.

All coins feature the RCM’s distinctive, uncrowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt. Collectors can try www.mint.ca if their local dealer is unable to supply.

Niue
The tiny raised Pacific atoll of Niue continues to require more than one mint to produce its lunar coins.

For starters there is a gold-plated proof $8 (75 mm, 5 oz .999 Ag, 500) showing three Brumbies measuring stride for stride. This coin was designed by Downies’ Suankaew Chueysai and struck by Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux. It proved a rapid-fire sell-out.

New Zealand Mint has struck three YoH coins: $1 (32 mm, ½ oz .999 Ag, 5,000) and 2 x $2 (40.5 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag, 5,000). The design of the $1 shows a fiery white stallion. A pair of galloping steeds graces one of the $2s while the horse on the second is selectively gold-plated. This latter issue comes packaged in a golden Chinese sycee look-alike.

Mennica Polska has contributed four coins. Two $1s (38.60 mm, 15.55 g .925 Ag, 9,999) one showing two ornate rocking horses flanking a gilded horse shoe and the second a single colorful rocking horse. A selectively gilded $1 (38.61 mm, 28,28 g .925 Ag, 1,500) with a pair of horses’ heads partially enclosed by selectively gilded horse shoes. A $2 proof (41 mm, 28.28 g .925 Ag, 3,999) with a brown foal frolicking before a silhouetted mare in a field of daisies; below a capsulated insert contains a small 24-karat gold-plated silver horse. From MNI comes a pierced carousel YoH $2 proof (60 mm, 62.2 g .999 Ag, 2014). The coin is housed in a musical box in which it can rotate.


Macau
The Monetary Authority of Macau announced its YoH coins on Sept. 4: colorized proof 250 patacas (22 mm, 1/4oz .9999 Au, 5,000), colorized proof 100 patacas (65 mm, 5oz .999 Ag, 2000), and colorized proof 20 patacas (41 mm, 1oz .999 Ag, 8,000).

These are the seventh issue in the Authority’s current lunar series. Once again they come courtesy of the Singapore Mint. And again the designs blend Western and Eastern cultures.

The reverse of all coins depicts a rearing horse, bursting with vigor and assurance, back-dropped by a cascade of vibrant, fully-flushed camellia blossoms. The reverse features the chapel of Guia Fortress and adjacent lighthouse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite mintages being having been increased over previous issues in this series, all three coins had sold out at the Singapore Mint by mid-November last.


Fiji
This year sees the fifth tranche of lunar coins from the Republic of Fiji. The popular silver filigree dollar (38.61 mm, 20.25 g .999 Ag, 2,500) and ying-yang dollars (49.90 mm as a pair, 16.81 g .925 Ag as a single coin, 5,000) are again available. In past years these were struck by the Mint of Finland. They have now been taken over by Treasures of Oz, www.treasuresofoz.net, and were produced by Den Kongelige Mynt [Royal Norwegian Mint]. From Helvetic Mint comes a satin-finished and patinated dollar (40 mm, 40 g Cu, 1,000). The design is one of those cross-cultural delights that are an increasing feature of the lunar coin market. The reverse depicts Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of Norse mythology and the mount of Odin.

Sleipnir was a consequence of a small building project undertaken by the northern gods. They contracted the task of fortifying their home, Asgard, to the giant, Hrimthursar. Payment for completion on time included the sun and moon, with the goddess Freya thrown in for good measure. With the help of his stallion, Svadilfari, Hrimthursar made fast progress. The gods became alarmed that they might have to pay up. They called in Loki to throw some grit in the giant’s works. Loki transformed into a mare and whinnied gently at Svadilfari who responded in kind. By the time Hrimthursar had applied a bucket of cold water the time for contract completion had elapsed. The giant never did get the sun, moon or Freya but Odin did get Svadilfari’s and Loki’s foal, Sleipnir, whose eight legs correspond to the eight directions of the Nordic heaven.

MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH has produced two proof Fijian $10s (40 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag). One reverse shows three selectively gilded horses prancing upon a filigree background that encircles a red freshwater pearl. The second has a horse head plus two auspicious lotus flowers formed from brightly colored panels akin to the patterns of stained-glass windows, Mintages are 8,888 and 3,888 respectively.


Laos
The third lunar coin from Laos follows the pattern of previous issues. The reverse of the selectively gold-plated proof 2000 kip (55 mm, 2 oz .999 Ag, 2,888) contains an inset ring of Burmese jade bearing appropriate YoH inscriptions in both Chinese and English. The silver ring encircling the jade core carries eight stylized horse heads. The coin is struck by MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH.

A second Laotian coin from an unknown source is a mini-gold proof 500 kip (11 mm, 0.5 g .9999 Au). The reverse shows a simple stylized horse head.


France
For “the year of the cheval” Monnaie de Paris continues its cross-cultural mix that characterizes its lunar series. This year the obverse shows a geometric frieze enclosing a saddled and groomed horse chomping at the bit. It is modeled on one from Chinese pottery. The reverse depicts the 17th century French fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine, along with all twelve lunar animals.

The two coins are 200-euro proof (37 mm, 31.104 g .999 Au, 500) and 10 euro (37 mm, 22.2 g .900 Ag, 10,000). This gold mintage is less than last year.

The coins were available from the e-boutique at www.monnaiedeparis.fr.


China
The sixteen YoH issues of the People’s Bank of China were announced on Oct. 10: nine gold and seven silver. They include the usual rounds, rectangles, auspicious fans and propitious plum blossoms, as well as selectively colored folk-themed issues.

On the obverse the national emblem of the PRC comes embellished with lotus flowers and fish invoking another year of plenty.

The reverse of all the uncolorized coins features a horse bounding before the essence of a celestial Horse, along with the words Jia Wu in Chinese – and the face value.

The proof .999 Au consist of rounds: a ¥100,000 (180 mm, 10 kg, 18), ¥20,000 (110 mm, 2 kg, 100), ¥10,000 (100 mm, 1 kg, 118); rectangle: ¥2,000 (64 x 40 mm, 5 oz, 2,000); plum blossom: ¥200 (27 mm, 1/2 oz, 8,000); and fan-shaped: ¥150 (1/3 oz, 30,000), ¥50 (18 mm, 1/10 oz, 120,000).

The proof .999 Ag includes a round: ¥300 (100 mm, 1 kg, 10,000); rectangle: ¥50 (80 x 50 mm, 5 oz, 20,000); plum blossom: ¥10 (40 mm, 1 oz, 60,000); and fan-shaped: ¥10 (1 oz, 80,000), ¥10 (40 mm, 1 oz, 200,000).

Four selectively colored proofs show a traditional Chinese folk horse standing tall upon a field of auspicious lotus blossoms. Proof .999 Au consists of a ¥2000 (60 mm, 5 oz, 3,000) and a ¥50 (18 mm, 1/10 oz, 120,000). Proof .999 Ag coins are ¥50 (70 mm, 5 oz, 30,000) and ¥10 (40 mm, 1 oz, 220,000).

All coins are legal tender of the People’s Republic of China. If your local dealer cannot supply any of the above, try China Great Wall Coins, www.chinacoin.com.hk, or Mrs. Anita Chou: anita@gwcoin.imsbiz.com.hk.


Cook Islands
For the fourth year the Cook Islands have issued four rectangular 1 oz .999 fine silver lunar dollars (47.60 x 27.60 mm, 31.135 g .999 Ag, 3000) courtesy of Perth Mint.

The designer, Natasha Muhl, has depicted a different colored horse set against a mountain landscape on each coin, the four designs together producing a single linked image. The Cook Islands has also taken over the baby lunar animal colorized 50 cents (36.60 mm, 15.591 g .999 Ag, 7,500) that was issued by Tuvalu in past years. Designer Ing Ing Jong continues the cute baby animal theme with a frisky foal decked in festive bridle and blanket.

The above coins are available from www.perthmint.com.au.

MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH has also produced a Cook Islands issue, a stunning $50 (65 mm, 5 oz .999 Ag, 888). The reverse consists of a silver ring about a spectacular red Mother of Pearl core engraved with a fiery-eyed horse – consistent with the temperament horse folk exhibit when pushed a bridge too far.


Belarus
Belarus is a newcomer to the lunar field courtesy of Mennica Polska. Their second lunar issue is a stunning YoH proof 20 rubles (38.61 mm, 33.63 g .925 Ag, 8,000). The coin is dated 2013.

The reverse carries two stylized silhouettes of horses gamboling about a gilded central Chinese character for Horse. Below in Belorussian is “Year of the Horse.” On the obverse a selectively gilded, artistically stylized, clock’s works, that contain a central Swarovski Element, are surrounded by solar year dates for the next 12 years from 2013. The year 2014 is gilded.

Last year’s similar Year of the Snake design won first prize for best gift coin in the prestigious Coin Constellation Awards (Moscow).


Great Britain
Britain’s Royal Mint announced it was joining the lunar stakes on Oct. 16 with their first issues of what they are calling The Shengxiào Collection, named to honor the Chinese zodiac.

Six coins are being issued, three in .9999 fine gold and three in .999 fine silver. They consist of £100 proof (32.69 mm, 31.21 g .9999 Au, 888), £100 bullion (32.69 mm, 31.21 g .9999 Au, 30,000), £10 BU (16.50 mm, 3.13 g .9999 Au, 2,888), £10 proof (65.00 mm, 156.295 g .999 Ag, 1,488), £2 proof (38.61 mm, 31.12 g .999 Ag, 8,888), and £2 bullion (38.61 mm, 31.12 g .999 Ag, 300,000).

The reverse design is by British Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho and is her first commission for the Royal Mint. She has incorporated two horses in her design: a most spirited living steed and the prehistoric Uffington White Horse sculpture.

Wuon-Gean Ho describes her achievement eloquently, “I wanted the design to draw upon my British and Chinese heritage, as my parents are from Malaysia and Singapore and I was raised in the UK. Although I am involved in the arts now, studying anatomy and closely observing animals for my degree in Veterinary Medicine was good training for this project. The Uffington Horse is part of Britain’s history as well as mine, as I grew up in Oxfordshire close to this famous chalk monument.”


Russia
A further newcomer to the annual issues is the Bank of Russia with a design from the Moscow Mint. There is just one coin, a 3 rubles (39.0 mm, 33.94 g .925 Ag, 20,000).

The reverse design by S. A. Kozlovand is startling in its simplicity: the outline of a horse head framed by a large sickle moon.


Tuvalu
In mid-November the Perth Mint announced two colorized “Wealth & Wisdom” dollars (40.10 mm, 31.135 g .999 Ag, 1,500) for Tuvalu. The two are sold as a set. Designs are by Tom Vaughn.


Singapore
Last, but by no means least, the Singapore Mint released its YoH lunar coins on Nov. 22. It is perhaps pertinent to recall that the phenomenon of modern lunar coins originated with the Singapore Mint 32 years ago in 1981.

Along with the eight gold, silver and base metal coins issued in recent years is a newcomer, a 13-in-1, 96 mm, 8 oz silver, three-way, interlocking, circular jig-saw puzzle.

Each of the puzzle pieces constitutes an individual $2 coin. The reverse of each of the 12 outer pieces bears designs from the Singapore first lunar coin series issued between 1981 and 1992. The center $10 features a peony conveying wishes of prosperity and good fortune to its new owner. Mintage is 3,000 sets.

All the lunar coin obverses bear the Singapore Arms and 2014 solar date. On all reverses the lunar horse, emblazoned with an auspicious peony, is shown at full gallop in the Great Race. As in other coins in this third Singapore Mint Lunar series the reverse background features Chinese characters from the “Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches.”

The .9999 fine Au coins include Singapore’s traditional issues: $200 (60 mm, 5 oz, 200), $100 (33 mm, 1 oz, 2000), $5 (21.96 mm, 1/4 oz, 2000), and $1 (7 mm, 0.3 g, 10,000).

The .999 fine Ag coin consist of an $80 (100 mm, 1 kg, 1,000), $25 (66.00 mm, 5 oz, 250), $2 proof (38.70 mm, 20 g, 10,000), and $10 colorized piedfort (45.00 mm, 2 oz, 20,000).

For those not into precious metals, $2 coin is also available in BU cupro-nickel (38.70 mm, 20 g, 80,000).

And, as in the past, Singapore’s lunar coins are also available in 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 sets accompanied by an eight-sided, floral-shaped ingot featuring a pair of horses emerging from a field or peonies.

The coins themselves are available from www.mint.com.sg or from your favorite coin dealer.


But there’s more!
There is an abundance of other lunar coins available to collectors in 2014. Private mints are at the forefront of producing issues. These include further issues for countries already cited here as, e.g. Fiji and Niue, but also for newer entrants to the lunar stakes such as for Rwanda and Palau. In many instances the issuing country or mint involved has not responded to requests for mintage details and/or images.

And always remember, caveat emptor! Buy solely from reputable sources. Numerous replica and unauthorized lunar coins have appeared on the market in recent years. Some are plated and/or underweight. These pop up regularly on the internet. Be warned.

Otherwise, let lunar collectors everywhere begin their hunt.


Images courtesy (from top): Perth Mint, TreasuresOfOz.net (3), Modern Numismatics International, Royal Canadian Mint (3), Downies (2).

 

More Coin Collecting Resources:

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• Build an impressive collection with Coin Collecting 101.

• IT’S HERE! Order the 2014 North American Coins & Prices.

 



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