A History of the Perth Mint’s Chinese Lunar Series
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A History of the Perth Mint’s Chinese Lunar Series

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Based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Chinese Lunar Series has become wildly popular among collectors. Produced by Australia’s Perth Mint, these coins bring together ancient tradition and modern numismatics. The success of the Chinese Lunar Series has led it to become a tradition in its own right.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Chinese Lunar Calendar has existed since before 2600 BCE, making it the oldest calendar in history. The calendar is based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese new year begins with the appearance of the new moon, and each year in the 12-year cycle is represented by a different animal.

According to legend, the order of animals was determined by the animals’ fabled race across a river. The clever mouse hitchhiked across the river on the ox’s head. Therefore the mouse reached dry land first, followed by the puzzled ox. Trailing behind, the tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig reached the shore, in that order.

In Chinese culture, the animal influences the personality of people born in that year. For instance, those born in the Year of the Mouse are said to be ambitious, clever, insightful, and optimistic. Meanwhile, those born in the Year of the Dragon (said to be most compatible with Year of the Mouse) are energetic, honest, sensitive, and stubborn.

Chinese Lunar Series Coinage

Perth Mint produced the Chinese Lunar Series I coins from 1996 to 2007. During this twelve year term, a coin for each animal was produced in the corresponding year. While the coins were produced in both gold and silver, reverse designs were unique to each metal. Each coin features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth on the obverse.

These coins were produced in a variety of sizes, from 1/20 oz up to a kilogram. The 1-oz coins remain the most popular with collectors, although there is significant demand for all coin sizes in this popular series. Other fantastic options for collectors are the Chinese Lunar Series colored coins. Sometimes called “enameled” or “colorized” coins, these coins come to life with brilliantly detailed, brightly hued artwork.

Chinese Lunar Series coins have become extremely popular among collectors. Production of each coin was capped at 30,000, although most coins did not reach this cap. The coins’ rarity, in conjunction with their high quality and impeccable artistry, has made them highly sought after among serious collectors and numismatists alike.

In response to that popularity, the Perth Mint began a new Lunar series in 2008. This new cycle will end in 2019. Like their predecessors, the new Chinese Lunar Series coins are sure to carry premiums over other bullion coins like the Krugerrands and Gold Eagles.

This information is provided for general reference purposes and does not constitute professional advice. For detailed coin collecting or investing information, please consult with a professional expert.

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