The Dragon´s Shiny Scales – Silver Coins from China

People rush to precious metals lately. And it will get only crazier. American, Canadian and Australian are not the only coins to go for. How about something more exotic? Let´s discover the China-option together.

Why silver coins anyway?

Times have been crazy getting lately. Whenever financial or political turmoil is on the rise, people revert to what they can trust.

Diamonds may be a girl´s best friend, but that is just a marketing ploy. Since you can create artificial diamonds of impeccable quality, only the marketing genius of the few big players in this field keeps the price stable.

Not so gold and silver or more exotic metals like palladium, rhodium etc. For millennia alchemists in East and West have experimented to create these two precious metals out of lesser ones. One might be reminded of leverage in the stock market. Put in a little and create a lot. Kings and emperors, wizards and scientists alike have tried and failed to this date. So, once people fear that the loss of value in fiat currencies will increase exponentially or chaos could break out, they flock to metals.

Of course, gold bars are the ideal choices but not affordable for many ordinary precious metals’ investors. Alternatively, collecting gold or silver coins could become viable solutions.

But why do we choose silver coins instead of gold ones? First, from the perspective of collection value, gold and silver coins both are seen by many as a hedge against inflation, however the price of gold is much higher than silver under the same quality. Therefore, for many investors, silver coins are more economical and affordable.

Secondly, from an investment point of view, due to the high production technology and strong productive capacity of silver, the market supply of silver may be higher than the supply of gold, which provides investors with more diversified opportunities.

Buyer Beware

Buying a few silver or gold coins -depending on your means- is as easy. But be careful. Some less reputable coin shops might sell you fake goods, especially online. Don´t ever believe someone will sell you his silver below spot price. Not in a million years! Therefore, documentation is necessary. If you decide to buy, only buy from a trustworthy dealer with certificates or directly from banks.

The case for Chinese silver coins

Some of the most collectable high quality silver coins are the Panda and Lunar coins from China. They have been minted since 1982 with a denomination of 10 Yuan. Which at that time was worth much more than these days. Yet, no one buys silver coins for their official denomination. It is the silver or gold content that investors and collectors are after.

Panda Coins

These days Panda coins are struck with .999 purity. The earlier coins had a purity of only 90%. Initially they were troy ounce coins. Over the years China Mint has issued different subsets and finishes for the coins, ranging from standard bullion business strikes to proof or satin finishes. Some of the coins got different marks to prove their origin. Some even have color finishes.

Since the mid-90s Chinese citizens officially have the right to buy their own coins. Before that, a law originating from the beginning of the People´s Republic prohibited that. When the ban was lifted, Chinese flocked to the banks to get their coins.

Initially the mintage numbers were only small, and Pandas were not sought after outside of China. Today, the high demand from inside of China seems to be one reason for drying up the number of Pandas that are available outside of China. Chinese gobble up a large amount even though China issues greater and greater amounts of coins each year.

In 2016 China decided to go metric with the coins. Since that time 30 grams is the standard weight.

There are generally two coins people can get a hold of outside of China: The Panda and the Lunar. Don´t confuse these Lunar coins with the Lunar ones from Australia´s Perth Mint though. With the ascent of China mints are catering to the rising interest by minting their own Lunar coins with zodiac designs.

Which Chinese Coin?

2023 Panda Silver Coins

On one side the Panda coin features the famous Temple of Heaven in Beijing, a Unesco World Heritage site. This ancient monument is almost a China cliche with its vibrant colors and architectural beauty. The coins depict the temple in a slightly different way each year.

The reverse side of the coin features a more easily recognizable design each year. The variety in artistic expression makes it interesting for the coin collector. Therefore, earlier coins are not being collected for their silver content anymore.

While the reverse side always has the Panda as its motive, the depiction of Pandas changes a lot each year. There have been Panda babies or older ones, Pandas eating Bamboo or playing. The pictures use the endless cuteness of this iconic animal. If there is one animal that is Chinese to the core, next to the mythical dragon, it is the Panda.

So, what is the value of these coins? While their silver value will follow the spot price like all other silver coins, their real value lies in their collectability. Older editions can go for thousands! And even the recent ones have a quite substantial premium and seem to gain value within few years. It is one of the coins that has the reputation of being a true collector´ item.

But wait, there is more!

China is issuing other silver items like medals, the above-mentioned Lunar coins, and all kinds of silver objects in the shape of ancient coinage like shoes and bags or even chop sticks.

Chinese zodiac silver coins

Over the years a variety of lunar coins have been issued. As the name implies lunar coins are issued each year to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year and feature the namesake zodiac animal of this respective year. Following the 12-year cycle, this gives the fan a wide range of designs, but the motives change over the decades.

Chinese also like to buy ccommémorative coins which are used to showing off great achievements like the lunar landings etc. to the world. Usually, these coins are highly limited and probably not available outside of China. Additionally, there is an active collector scene focusing on old imperial silver coins.

Like collecting stamps, coin collectors have the chance to get their hands on objects from another country, time or culture, that not everyone has. It gives them the joy of collecting and at the same time through the varying depictions their curiosity about the art and culture of China might be growing. And who knows, maybe the coin collecting hobby will one day lead to a trip to China to see this wonderful place for yourself.

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