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Perth Mint Silver Lunar Coins
The Perth Mint commenced production of coins based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar in 1999 with the release of the Series I Lunar Rabbit. Coins are then released for each subsequent year depicting that years Chinese zodiac symbol. Bullion coins were originally issued in denominations of 50c (1/2 ounce), $1 (1 ounce), $2 (2 Ounce), $10 (10 Ounce) and $30 (1 Kilo). Since 2004 $8 (5 ounce) and $15 (half kilo) coins have also been produced.
The smaller denominations are the most collectible with the 1 ounce being by far the most popular issue. I find the 2 ounce an impressive coin. Anything bigger than the 5 ounce startsto look a little strange. The 10 ounce is the size of a drink coaster whiilst the 1 Kilo looks like a small plate.
The 1 ounce coins have an authorised mintage of 300,000 although the Perth Mints sales figures indicate that full mintage was never achieved for Series I. The mintage numbers for series I were:
1999 Rabbit 63,644
2000 Dragon 118,697
2001 Snake 71,301
2002 Horse 99,632
2003 Goat 102,164
2004 Monkey 105,680
2005 Rooster 92,691
2006 Dog 98,825
2007 Pig 87,009
2008 Mouse 59,623
2009 Ox 52,267
2010 Tiger 56,077
Full mintages for the Silver Lunar Series I can be found here.
The last 4 coins of series I were printed in 2007 because the Mint wanted to start Series II with the Mouse/Rat to correspond with the Chinese cycle.
Series II started with the 2008 mouse. Buyers should be aware that there are series I and II lunar coins for the years 2008-2010. Take extra care when purchasing the Mouse/Rat, Ox, or Tiger.
The release of Series II also saw the first release of a $300 denominated 30kg coin.
All series II 1 ounce releases have seen full production of 300,000 coins and Perth Mints Lunar coins are now snapped up by eager buyers. The Dragon is a particularly lucky figure for the Chinese and the 2012 Dragon sold out in weeks. The 2013 Lunar snake series was released in September 2012.The release of the early coins of Series II coincided with the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent protracted economic contraction. This has increased demand for physical metal and quality bullion coins as a store of wealth. I have attached the Perth Mints Series II production numbers here.
In addition to bullion coin issues the Perth Mint also issues proof, coloured and gilt silver lunar coins.
September 2014 saw the release of the Lunar Horse and is sure to excite horsey fans and punters alike.
Starting a Lunar Collection
Perth Mint lunar coins have been around for a relatively short period of time. As such it should be reasonably easy to build a collection. The coins you buy will depend greatly on how much you want to spend. A lunar series II collection will be far easier to build than a series I but I suspect within a year you would be able to source one of each coin. If you are looking for something of greater rarity and thus higher value. You could start building a collection of PCGS or NGC rated coins. High rated series I Perth Mint lunar will cost some money. You can usually pick up MS70 Lunars for around $100-120 in their year of issue. If you can't find or afford a coin in MS70 I would suggest you pick up an MS69 just in case you can't fill that missing slot later on. I wish you luck with your collection and look forward to seeing it up in lights on the PCGS or NGC registry pages.