Perth Mint Australian Lunar
The Perth Mint Australian Lunar Series Gold and Silver Bullion
Coins have become some of the most popular collector coins minted
in recent times. Because The Perth Mint sells the Lunar Series
gold coins at bullion coins prices, bullion coin investors also
are buying the Lunar Series 1-ounce gold coins, and many bullion
coin investors are becoming collectors.
Chinese Lunar Calendar
The Lunar Series is based on the ancient 12-year Chinese Lunar
Calendar, which dates back beyond 2,600BC. The Lunar Calendar
is steeped in tradition and symbolism, and features a different
animal with each year. Based on the appearance of the new moon,
the Lunar Calendar associates a difference animal with each
year in the 12-year cycle.
Although China uses the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes,
the lunar calendar is used for determining festivals. The Chinese
believe each animal has a profound influence on the personality
of those born under its rule.
The Lunar Series Collector Coins
All the gold coins of the 12-coin series have been minted.
This cycle of the Lunar Calendar began with the Year of the
Rat in 1996 and concludes in 2007 with the Year of the Pig.
All coins in the Lunar Series are legal tender Australian coins.
The Lunar Series Gold Coins are .9999 fine (24-karat), but
the Silver Coins are .999 fine. (Although most pure gold coins
minted today are .9999 fine, few mints produce .9999 fine silver
coins. The Royal Canadian Mint's Silver Maple Leafs are .9999
fine. However, Silver Eagles, the world's best-selling 1-ounce
silver coins, are .999 fine.) Each Lunar Series coin is individually
encapsulated in a protective acrylic case.
Becoming Collector Favorites
The primary reason for the coins' popularity is their exquisite
quality. Many collectors of Perth Mint coins assert that The
Perth Mint is without equal when it comes to producing collector
So beautifully struck are the Lunar Series Bullion Coins that
some investors mistakenly think the Lunar Series Bullion Coins
are proof coins. The coins' raised images are highly polished
and contrast with satin-like fields around the images. This
feature can best be seen on the obverse, with the image of Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which graces the front of all the
Lunar Series coins.
The reverses of the coins carry images of animals associated
with each Lunar Calendar year. And, different renditions of
the animals are used on the silver coins than on the gold coins.
However, for the 2006 Year of the Dog, different breeds are
used. The 2006 Gold Dogs display a beagle, and the silver coins
have a German shepherd.
Limited Production Coins
Another reason for the Lunar Series coins' popularity is that
they are limited production coins. In contrast, Gold Eagles,
which are the world's best-selling 22-karat gold coins, and
Gold Maple Leafs, the world's best-selling 24-karat gold coins,
are unlimited production coins. The 1-ounce Lunar Series gold
coins are limited to 30,000 coins for each year and clearly
have become collector favorites.
The kilo, the 10-ounce, and the 2-ounce gold coin mintages
are unlimited, but the 1-ounce coins are limited to 30,000;
the ½-ounce to 40,000; the ¼-ounce to 60,000; the 1/10-ounce
to 80,000; and the 1/20-ounce to 100,000. Of the silver coins,
the kilo, the ½-kilo, the 10-ounce, the 5-ounce, and the 2-ounce
are unlimited, but only 300,000 1-ounce and 500,000 ½-ounce
silver coins will be issued.
The Year 2000 1-ounce Gold Dragons, Year 2001 1-ounce Gold Snakes
and Year 2002 1-ounce Gold Horses have reached their productions caps
and are no longer being produced. While these sold-out coins are available,
they carry premiums over the Lunar Series 1-ounce gold
coins that have not reached the 30,000-coin production cap.
Another feature that makes the Lunar Series popular is that
The Perth Mint can produce back-dated coins until the production
cap is met. This means that the earlier coins are still available
and can be bought at or near bullion coin prices, which permits
collectors who learn of the Series late to acquire the earlier
coins at bullion coin prices. The policy of minting coins from
earlier years is unique to The Perth Mint for only the Lunar
Silver Coins added to the Lunar Series
When The Perth Mint launched its Australian Lunar Series in
1996, only gold coins were produced. In 1999, The Mint added
silver coins to the Series. Additionally, as the Lunar Series
progressed and grew in popularity, more sizes of coins were
added. Click here for coin sizes, denominations, and dimensions
of the coins that make up The Perth Mint Australian Lunar Series
Gold and Silver Bullion Coins.
Although The Perth Mint produces proof versions of the Lunar
Series coins, the bullion coins have captured the imaginations
of coin collectors worldwide. This is especially true for the
1-ounce gold coins, two of which—the Year 2000 Gold Dragons
and the Year 2002 Gold Horses—have reached their production
Somehow, 30,000 became a magical number for the 1-ounce gold
coins in the Lunar Series. The number is large enough to let
a lot of collectors get involved, but small enough that when
coins reach their production caps, they pick up premiums.
Shortly after the year 2000 1-ounce Dragons reached their production
cap in the summer of 2001, they picked up premiums in the secondary
market. The year 2002 1-ounce Gold Horses reached the production
cap in the spring of 2005 and also picked up premiums in the
secondary market. However, the 1-ounce Gold Dragon carries the
highest premium, the dragon essentially being China's icon.
The year 2001 1-ounce Gold Snakes seem likely to be the next
coin in the Lunar Series to hit the production cap.
Queen Elizabeth II Matures
By law, the Lunar Series coins have to display the image of
Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. When the
Series was started in 1996, the official likeness of the Queen
was younger. In 1999, however, the Buckingham Palace changed
the official likeness to a mature Queen.
The change resulted in the first three years' coins (1996,
1997, and 1998) having the image of the younger Queen Elizabeth
and with the later coins having the mature image. In years to
come, after the Series has closed, this uniqueness could stimulate
greater interest in the Series in Great Britain and those countries
that used to be part of the British Empire.
The Perth Mint Australian Lunar Series draws to a close in
2007 with issuance of the Year of the Pig coins. Year of the
Pig coins are available now.