In honor of the return this year of the tiger as the symbol of the Chinese zodiac, many mints around the world have begun to produce coins commemorating the event. Some of these mints are releasing a “Year of the Tiger” coin as one of a series released annually. The Royal Canadian Mint, The People’s Bank of China, and The New Zealand Mint are just a few examples of minting authorities “cashing in” on Chinese New Year. The most popular mint to have produced a series of this sort however, is the Perth Mint of Australia.
The Perth Mint’s “Lunar Series” as it came be called debuted in 1996 with the “Year of the mouse,” and has continued since, each year’s coin celebrating the corresponding animal in the Chinese Zodiac. Traditionally, the coins were minted only of 99.99% (24 karat) pure gold. They have been offered in a variety of sizes, including 1/20 oz., 1/10 oz., 1/4 oz., 1/2 oz., 1 oz., 2 oz., 10 oz., and 1 kg. In 1999, a line of Lunar Coins made of .999 pure silver was introduced. The silver versions of the coins have been made in 1/2 oz., 1 oz., 2 oz., 5 oz., 10 oz., 1/2 kg., 1 kg., and 10 kg. sizes.
This year, the Perth Mint is striking both silver and gold lunar series coins. The reverse of the gold coins will feature a striking rendering of an adult male tiger’s head, completed by the inscription “Year of the Tiger” and the Chinese symbol for “tiger.” As always, on the obverse of the coins will appear the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. Production of the gold proof coin is limited to 5,000 1/10 oz. coins, 5,000 1/4 oz. coins, and 3,000 1 oz. coins while an additional 3,000 of each coin will be produced specifically for inclusion in a three-coin set, comprised of 1 of each size coin. The silver coins will differ in design from their gold counterparts in that the reverse will feature a tiger lying under a tree instead of a tiger’s head. The obverse will still carry a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The Perth Mint will only produce 5,000 1 oz. silver proof coins, 500 1kg. silver proof coins, and 1,000 three-coins sets including a 1/2 oz., 1 oz., and 2 oz., version of the silver proof coin. As production of all these coins is limited, each coin will be shipped with a numbered certificate of authenticity.
In addition to the proof coins, the Perth Mint is also producing a highly anticipated, equally as rare colored version of this year’s Lunar Series coin. Produced in both gold and silver variations, these coins are enameled so as to color in detail different parts of the coin. The gold version colors the head of the tiger in vibrant shades of orange, black, and white, while the portrait of the Queen is not colored. The silver version however, colors the entirety of the tiger in the same rich color, while the face of the Queen is shaded. There also exists a 1 kg. version of this coin in which the tiger’s eye has been replaced with real topaz. Again, these coins were produced in low quantities and were available only through a select number of distributors.