Panda Date Sets Fun Collecting Focus|
May 23, 2011
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Chinese news reports that star money manager and Investment Biker author Jim Rogers recently plunked down $270,000 in a Beijing coin store. What was he after? Pandas, gold and silver Pandas. Had the famed investor got wind of the 1997 silver Panda that went from $2,250 to $41,700 in just three years? Or did word reach him of the Panda Index1 that has run up from $10,000 to $50,000 in five years?
Whatever the reason, Mr. Rogers bought Pandas.
So what’s going on? There are, after all, bullion coins with lower premiums over melt value than a 2011 Panda’s. Yet, sharp-eyed collectors are seeing that, for “bullion coins,” some Pandas are selling for very un-bullion like prices. Does that mean that every Panda is hot, and it’s time to load up the truck, or bike, with them?
Here are some key facts to consider: Pandas have been minted in gold, silver, platinum, palladium and even copper and brass by the People’s Republic of China since 1982. Some (but not all) Pandas are scarce or rare, and some (but not all) have numismatic value. Last but not least, many coin dealers still believe that all Pandas are basically bullion coins and price them accordingly. In fact, if you talk awhile with almost any Panda collector, I’ll bet that sooner or later you will hear a story about a valuable coin that was bought for its melt value.
One feature of Pandas that everyone notices is that each year (except one) has a different design. This makes collecting a date set a lot of fun. A full date set of BU 1-ounce silver Pandas has 22 coins in it, some of which are more difficult to find than others, while there are 29 coins in a date set of 1-ounce gold Pandas. It has become popular in China to focus on the short set of dates from 2000 or 2001 on. This creates strong demand for this decade’s coins, and they are becoming harder to find and more expensive.
A good starting point for a new collection is this year’s 1-ounce, 10-yuan silver Panda. With silver at $40 per ounce, a 2011 silver Panda sells for around $50, or roughly 10 percent more than most other 1-ounce silver coins. Why the price difference? It all comes down to supply and demand. Most of 2011’s announced mintage of 3 million is staying in China, where the government is encouraging its citizens to buy gold and silver – and isn’t there some irony in a communist government that promotes gold and silver as a store of value while so many other countries don’t?
In the past, whenever the current year’s supply of silver Pandas from the mint ran out and buyers were forced to buy coins on the secondary market, the price rose. For instance, the 2008 and 2009 silver Pandas now sell for around $70, or 40 percent more than the 2010 or 2011. Or look at the 2006 silver Panda. In 2006 it could have been purchased for just a dollar or so more than other 2006 silver coins. Today those other coins sell for around $46 (based on $40 per ounce silver) while a 2006 silver Panda trades for $95.
As the supply of 2011 silver Pandas dwindles, there is an excellent chance this date will start to command higher premiums. So 2011 Pandas are an attractive way to not only start a collection but also own silver.
Last but not least, that Chinese news article left out if Jim Rogers carried off all those Pandas on his Beemer. Too bad, they may have set a record for the world’s fastest Pandas.
Peter Anthony is author of the book, The Gold and Silver Panda Coin Buyers Guide. He also publishes Panda Pricepedia, a monthly price guide to modern Chinese Coins. More information about Pandas can be found on his website, www.pandacollector.com.
1 Panda Pricepedia 2000 Index
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