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.
This website is dedicated exclusively to providing information to collectors and investors about The Perth Mint Australian Lunar Series Gold and Silver Bullion Coins.
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 coins.
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 and the Year 2000 1-ounce Gold Horses have reached their productions caps and are no longer being produced. The 1-ounce Gold Dragons and the 1-ounce Gold Horses are available, however, in the secondary market, but both coins 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 Series coins.
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 caps.
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
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 expected to be released in September 2006.
Collectors are invited to return to this site for updates on the Series and further developments in what has become the most exciting collector series in decades. The next big news about the Series is expected to be the Year 2001 1-ounce Gold Snakes reaching their 30,000-coin production cap.