Athletes won?t be the only ones in pursuit of Olympic gold and silver this summer.
Coin collectors will be able to acquire proof gold and silver commemorative coins issued by the China Mint in honor of the games it will host Aug. 8-24.
The precious metal commemorative coins reflect the games? theme, ?One World, One Dream.?
The complete proof 18-coin set, issued in three series, features six gold coins that are each one-third troy ounce and 12 silver coins that are each 1 troy ounce. The collection has a mintage limited to 60,000 worldwide, with 3,000 sets earmarked for the United States.
?With over a billion people in China alone, the limited mintage of these coins makes one realize that they may become as rare and treasured one day as ancient rare art pieces from Chinese history,? said Kitty Quan, chief executive officer of Panda America, one of two U.S. distributors of the Olympic coins.
Many coins will be sold as keepsakes, said Larry Lee, a numismatist with Panda America, which hosted a press conference at the Coin & Collectibles Expo in Long Beach, Calif., last month to present the collection.
?This has been from the beginning a very successful project,? said Nick Bruyer, CEO of Govmint.com, which also distributes the coins in the United States.
Because of the limited number of coins available in the United States, Panda America will only sell the complete three-part series, now listed at $8,888.
?Once they are gone, they are gone,? Lee said.
Govmint.com is selling the individual series, but coins are going fast.
?Series I set is close to being sold out and certainly will be sold out substantially before the games begin,? Bruyer said. ?We have completely sold out of allocations of the Series II proof 5-ounce gold coin and the kilo silver coin.
?The larger coins have been very, very popular.?
Panda America also offers a silver-only collection of the 12 proof silver coins that are 1 ounce of 99.9 percent pure silver. This collection is limited to 100,000 sets worldwide and initially priced at $1,497 for all three series. A proof 1 kilogram silver coin featuring horse and dragon boat racing is also available. This coin has a mintage of 20,008 worldwide. Also offered is a proof 5-ounce gold coin that blends Chinese martial arts with the five Olympic rings. Housed in a display with a traditional jade lion guarding the coin within, it has a mintage of only 2,008 worldwide.
The proof commemorative coins are being sold by series at Govmint.com. The Series 1 six-piece gold and silver proof set is $2,495; the Series 1 four-piece silver proof set is $499; The Series II proof silver kilo-dragon boat is $1,995; Series II six-piece gold and silver proof set is $2,495 and the Series II four-piece silver proof set is $499.
At press time, prices had not yet been set for Series III coins, which debuted March 20. Other prices may also vary as the precious metals market fluctuates.
?We want to share the news that in the past few years, as host to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the people of China have been working hard for the preparation of the games,? said Lekang Chen, Chinese vice consul for cultural affairs, who spoke at the press conference. ?Not just Beijing, but other cities of China are getting ready for the games.?
The popularity of the Olympics and the recent rescinding of a law that had forbidden Chinese citizens from owning gold coins, has resulted in the entire allocation for China being sold out in 2006.
?The Olympic Games are an event like no other in the world,? Quan said, ?helping to build bridges between countries on the world?s biggest stage. As a direct part of this legacy, Olympic coins have become treasured and valued by collectors around the world, representing the spirit, art, culture and country of the host nation and city. This is particularly true of the complete coin collection of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.?