In 1982, the People’s Republic of China began minting what would soon become one of the world’s most recognized modern bullion coins – the Chinese Panda. While it was first minted only in 99.9 % pure gold, the coin proved so popular as to warrant the production of a .900 silver version beginning just one year later. The silver content of this edition varied over the next few years, ranging from .900 to .925, but was eventually standardized in 1987 at 99.9% pure silver.
So called because of the design which appears on its reverse, the Chinese Panda features a portrait of the national symbol of China, the Giant Panda, which has changed (with one exception) every year. On the obverse of the coin, the same depiction of the Temple of Heaven can be found annually with an inscription which translates “People’s Republic of China,” and the date of issue.
The coin has been produced in a range of weights since its original pressing. The original gold version has been produced since its debut in 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., and 1 oz. weights each year. In 1983, a 1/20 oz. weight was added. The silver version has been minted in 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., 1 oz., 5 oz., and 12 oz., weights. The gold coins, while originally carrying face values of 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 Yuan (1/20 oz. – 1 oz. weights), were assigned new face values in 2000 of 25, 50, 100, 200, and 500 Yuan.
Production of the Chinese Panda has been riddled with anomalies throughout its existence, adding to its numismatic allure. The most notable of these is the identical design shared by the coins issued in 2001 and 2002. In 1986, no Silver Pandas were produced, while in 1988, no 1 oz. Silver Pandas were made. Also, because the coins are have been produced by several mints, including the Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Shenyang mints, minor variations in the coins design, such as the size of the date can be noticed. In addition, the raised rim edges characteristic of the Chinese Panda have recently disappeared.
Many varieties of this popular coin, including uncirculated, proof, frosted, gold gilded, and colored have been minted throughout the years. The People’s Republic of China has wisely limited mintages of these coins on an annual basis, causing demand to far exceed production every year. As a result, Chinese Panda coins enjoy even higher popularity among coin collectors.