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Collectors bullish on Chinese Pandas

“These are just bullion coins. Why do you care about dates?”
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Artist Rocky Zhao is the designer of the 2014 Panda.

Artist Rocky Zhao is the designer of the 2014 Panda.

By Peter Anthony

“These are just bullion coins. Why do you care about dates?”

Less than 10 years ago that was the typical response I would get at a coin shop when I asked about Pandas.

When I answered that these coins wouldn’t always be valued that way I got the kind of glances that suggested, “This guy’s not playing with a full deck.”

That all changed after the Panda market took off and my book, The Gold and Silver Panda Coin Buyer’s Guide was published. Nowadays if I visit a coin store instead of buying coins I talk to store owners about why they should carry Chinese coins…and read my China Pricepedia price guide each month!

A few years ago it was still noteworthy when I reported in World Coin News that, “star money manager and investment banker author Jim Rogers plunked down $270,000 in a Beijing coin store. What was he after? Pandas, gold and silver Pandas.”

That news was long ago been eclipsed by the sale at auction of one Panda for $1.6 million (US) and many others above $100,000. For most people, though, the question isn’t “should I spend a million on Pandas?” It’s “Should I buy a Panda and if I do what kind should it be?”

A couple of basics: collectors all around the world feel compelled to add to their Panda collections each year. That’s because from year-to-year the design of the coins change.

The most popular kind of Panda is the 1 oz. BU silver coin. As of today a full date set of BU 1 oz. silver Pandas contains 26 coins and together all the different designs make an impressive sight.

A close second are the BU gold coins that range in weight from 1 oz. down to 1/20 oz. A complete set of any one size of glittering gold B.U. Pandas has either 32 or 33 coins in it depending on denomination.

Panda coins are justly famous for their outstanding artwork. Two of them have been chosen as “Coins of the Year” in the world coins category. The China Mint holds competitions between highly skilled artists to find the best design each year.

Artists like Rocky Zhao, the designer of the 2014 Panda, strive to uphold the tradition of artistic quality in Panda coins. This helps keep demand strong.

The 2014 Pandas are a fine place to start a new collection. They can still be bought for a modest premium above their melt value and are excellent examples of Panda coin art. Some people have been scared off by the large reported mintage of these coins (8,000,000 for the silver Panda).

Pretty much the same things were said in 2011 about the Pandas issued that year. A couple of years ago I wrote in World Coin News that despite higher mintages I was still bullish on the bears and expected the premiums for 2011 silver Pandas to rise. The coins then sold for 25 percent above melt value.

Today that premium has expanded to nearly 90 percent. The reason is good ol’ supply and demand. With more and more Chinese citizens learning about Pandas the supply of coins gets tighter and tighter over time so premiums above melt increase.

My 2011 article concluded with, “2011 Pandas are an attractive way to not only start a collection but to also own silver.”

This still holds true – and they are both beautiful and a heckuva lot of fun, too!

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