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Two Coins Make Popular 1987 Set
By Peter Anthony, World Coin News
July 22, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Sets are central to the Chinese way of collecting coins. They embody a sense of completion and harmony, or tao. What, though, is a Panda set?

The most obvious set is one of every Panda coin ever minted. To the best of my knowledge there is only one such set in private hands. It is the only one possible today because there was just a single example of one coin (the 1997 500 yuan bimetallic Panda) released More realistically most people strive to own complete sets of either gold or silver Pandas. Even these are quite a handful given that there are 30 years of coins to cover. There are, however, quite a few smaller groupings that are both popular and a bit more manageable: year sets (all coins from one year), date sets (all the years of a single size), proof sets, 1 oz. platinum Pandas, 1983-1985 27 gram silver proof Pandas, bimetallic coins, and 1 oz. gold Panda medals and that’s just a sampling.

To explore what kinds of sets are possible and popular I recommend a visit to the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Professional Coin Grading Service websites. Go ahead and browse their registries of modern Chinese coins. Many top collectors use the registries to share their knowledge and to vie for the honor of owning the most outstanding set of graded coins.

The registries have also done a lot to advance awareness of condition rarity among Panda coins.

A coin that is very scarce in a high grade may owe quite a bit of its value to registry collectors.

A term that is sometimes used for a complete set of BU gold Pandas is a “Master Set.” While a full set of more than 150 gold coins may seem vast, these are popular in China. A more reasonable goal for many is a complete set of 1 oz. BU silver Pandas. This is probably the most popular set of all.

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Also popular in China are 21st century sets of all dates from 2000 to the present.

These are all relatively large sets. Are there any small sets that have tao too? The answer is yes. A pair of coins can make a set. Sometimes these duos are officially issued by the China Mint, while others are put together by enterprising sellers.

The first ever pairing of Panda coins was done back in 1987. The China Mint issued two silver proof Pandas as a set: a 5 oz. and a 1 oz. They could be bought in a wooden presentation box and pairs of these coins still appear from time to time in their original packaging. The coins were also sold as singles. 1987 was a peak year for interest in Pandas. The market at the time was concentrated in the USA and was fueled by marketing from PandaAmerica and its original owner, Martin Weiss.

Because the 50-yuan proof Panda coins were so popular they remain relatively easy to find today. They are not so easy to locate in Proof-69 grade, though. Huge numbers were mishandled and even traded by the stack between dealers.

The 1 oz 1987 silver proof Panda has more of a following than the 5 oz coins. That’s because it’s the sole 1 oz silver Panda for this year and many collectors want one for their 1 oz silver Panda collections. This has boosted its value quite a bit.

This pair of 1987 silver Panda coins is just the first of many interesting small Panda sets issued by China Mint. I encourage you to look for others, collect and have fun.

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