On solar date Jan. 28, 2017, the lunar Year of the Rooster dawned. Specifically, it is a Ding You or Fire Rooster year. In continuous reckoning, it is Year 4714.
By the middle of last year, the world’s largest numismatic program was well under way. Gold, silver and base metal coins were being struck apace to celebrate the lunar festivities six months hence. Come the end of August, more than a dozen countries had released details of denominations and/or designs.
That said, the trend noted in the last two years of downturns in both numbers of lunar coin varieties and in mintages continues into the Year of the Rooster (YoR). Regardless of the state of the world’s economy, there is more than a suggestion that the lunar coin market became saturated a year or two back. Yet any seeming vacuum in this crowded market is being filled by new players trying their hand. Boutique strikings with small mintages are becoming commonplace. Examples this year come from Macedonia, Cameroon and the British Virgin Islands.
For the Singapore Mint, this YoR is particularly significant. In 2016 they completed three twelve year lunar cycles of coins. In 2017 they commence issue of their 4th lunar series, the first mint in the world to do so.
As in previous lunar reports, the YoR coins described here are but a sample of those on the market. Lunar issues of major mints are included, but not all the multitude of smaller players.
For each coin type the diameter, weight, metal composition and mintage are summarized in parenthesis. The metal is given as “Cu-Ni” for cupronickel, “Al-Bz” for aluminum bronze, “Æ” for bronze, “Cu” for copper, “Ag” for silver and “Au” for gold – plus the millennial finenesses for Ag and Au.
At the time of writing, gold was selling in New York for approximately $1,190 per ounce with silver just under $17 per ounce.
The Rooster is the only bird in the lunar zodiac. It is also the only zodiacal animal that is gender specific. It was the last of the three animals – Goat, Monkey and Rooster – that formed a mutual aid society to cross the celestial river as part of the Great Race. The August Personage of Jade placed it 10th among the animals of the zodiac.
Those born in a Year of the Rooster can seldom be ignored. They are natural centers of attention, entertaining, quick-witted and with a great sense of humor.
They are forever on the go, being prompt, energetic and meticulous. But they inevitably assume others will behave likewise. They don’t understand those of us who are not as driven.
While they can be superb leaders, their lack of understanding of others often leads to their working alone.
If Roosters have a problem, they can be quite uncompromising in their honesty to the point of giving offense. Having spoken the truth, they are baffled as to why acquaintances become hurt. They lose friends all too easily.
The Element of Fire causes a Rooster to be all these things and more. Fire Roosters take perfectionism to a new level. It is readily seen in their appearance. They are sharp dressers, their hair always elegant to the last strand.
Australia – Perth
The Perth Mint continues to be a major player in the lunar coin market. Its YoR coins are the 10th issue of its Series II. A summary is given here. Full details can be found on Perth’s website along with additional releases that occur throughout the lunar year: www.perthmint.com.au.
The reverse of all .9999 fine gold issues shows a rooster crowing amidst leafy bamboos. All .9999 fine silver coins depict a rooster and family. This year Perth’s designs were outsourced.
Three gold proofs consist of: $15 (18.60 mm, 1/10 oz, 8,000), $25 (22.60 mm, 1/4 oz, 8,000) and $100 (39.34 mm, 1 oz, 6,000). Four silver proofs are 50 cents (36.60 mm, 1/2 oz, 9,000), $1 (45.60 mm, 1 oz, 8,500), $2 (55.60 mm, 2 oz, 2,000) and $30 (100.60 mm, 1 kilo, 500). The $100 gold and $1 silver are also available with colored reverses.
Perth’s gold lunar bullion is in its 21st year while the silver bullion marks its 18th. For the YoR there are eight gold and seven silver bullion pieces.
There is no mintage limit on the gold $5 (1.556 g), $15 (3.111 g), $25 (7.777 g), $50 (15.554 g), $200 (62.215 g), $1,000 (311.067 g) and $3,000 (1000.100 g) coins, but production will close at the end of 2017. No more than 30,000 $100 (31.112 g) coins will be struck.
There is also no mintage limit for the silver 50 cents (15.553 g), $2 (62.213 g), $8 (155.533 g), $10 (311.066 g), $30 (1,000.100 g) coins, but production will close at the end of 2017. Up to 100 silver $300 (10,001.000 g) and 300,000 $1 (31.107 g) coins will be struck.
Gilded, colored, bullion and proof versions of the silver dollar are available individually and as a single packaged set with a mintage of 1,500. This coin is also available as a high relief striking on a 6 mm thick flan (32.60 mm, 31.107 g .9999 Ag, 7,500).
A high relief gold $100 comes struck on a 5 mm thick flan (27.30 mm, 31.107 g .9999 Au, 388).
This year sees a new lunar design from Perth. A silver $1 (36.60 mm, 31.107 g .9999 Ag, 5,000) contains a central panel on the reverse displaying a rooster formed from Australian opal. The designer is Ing Ing Jong.
Perth has also released its 10th 1 kilo silver $30, which has a gem in one of the lunar animal’s eyes (100.60 mm, 1000.100 .9999 Ag, 500). This lunar year, the gemstone is a citrine.
Treasures of Oz (www.treasuresofoz.net) has produced a second in its “Mirror Series.” The silver $5 (65 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag, 500) features two roosters as mirror images. The coin was struck by the Det Norske Myntverket.
At the time of writing, three scalloped silver proof $2s were pending showing contrasting rooster designs. These same reverse designs may also be struck as $1 coins on smaller, round, base metal flans.
Australia – RAM
The Royal Australian Mint was quick off the mark with its 10th lunar coins. The common reverse design by Stevan Stojanovic and Vladimir Gottwald shows a rooster lording it over the barnyard.
Six coins are available: BU dollar (25 mm, 9 g Al-Bz, 20,000), proof dollar (25 mm, 11.66 g .999 Ag, 10,000), proof $10 (17.53 mm, 1/10th oz .9999 Au, 1,500), proof dollar (40 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag, 3,000), proof $10 (65.10 mm, 5 oz .999 Ag, 500), and proof $30 (99.95 mm, 1 kg .999 fine Ag, 500).
And the RAM has struck a sixth lunar BU tetradecagonal 50 cents (31.15 mm, 15.37 g Cu-Ni, 50,000). Its design is by Stevan Stojanovic.
Macau’s 10th group of colorized lunar proofs follow past years: 250 patacas (21.96 mm, 7.78 g .9999 Au, 5,000), 100 patacas (65 mm, 155.52 g .999 Ag, 2000) and 20 patacas (40.70 mm, 31.10 g .999 Ag, 8,000).
The common obverse shows a splendid stylized rooster contemplating blooms of rosy Celosia cristata, a.k.a. cockscomb. On the reverse is a further UNESCO World Heritage Site in Macau: St. Dominic’s Church.
As in past years, Downie’s annual Niuean lunar coin was released in August: a selectively gold-plated proof $8 (65 mm, 5 oz .999 Ag, 500). It was designed in-house by Suankaew Chueysai and struck by Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux. Each coin is edge-numbered.
This year Mennica Polska offers just one Niuean dollar. It sports a traditional barnyard rooster along with seven gilded feathers (38.61 mm, 17.50 g .999 Ag, 1,500).
In addition this mint has produced a second lunar $1 coin pendant highlighted by a Swarovski Element crystal appropriately colored to denote a Fire Rooster (13 by 30 mm, 10 g .999 Ag, 1,000).
New Zealand Mint has two Niuean $2s, each 40.00 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag, 10,000. One presents a rooster alongside a gilded version of the Chinese character for rooster; the other a colorized rooster under cherry blossoms.
The Republic of Macedonia is the latest nation to join the annual numismatic lunacy, courtesy of Switzerland’s International Coin House. Two colorized 100 denars coins are on offer (38.61 mm, 28.28 g .925 Ag, 5,000). The first shows a crowing cockerel atop a wind vane on a house gable; the second a cherub in a floral carriage being towed by a rooster.
Mongolia’s YoR contribution comes courtesy Coin Invest Trust, www.coin-invest.li: a 500 togrog (38.61 mm, 25 g .999 Ag, 2017) and a 1,000 togrog (11 mm, 0.5 g .9999 Au, 15,000). Both proof coins show a fine fat rooster. That on the silver faces left; that on the gold faces right.
Kazakhstan has issued further silver and gold 500 tenge lunar coins (38.61 mm, 31.1 g .925 Ag, 3,000; 21.87 mm, 7.78 g .999 Au, 1,000), both with similar designs and both dodecagonal. The obverse shows a number of constellations. On the reverse the Rooster stands within a circle formed of the 11 other lunar animals. For more information, see www.nationalbank.kz.
For the seventh year MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH has struck a 5 oz silver Cook Islands’ proof $25 (65 mm, 155.5 g .999 Ag, 888) and 5 oz proof $200 (65 mm, 155.5 g .999 Au, 25). The reverses of both coins contain a spectacular mother-of-pearl inlay in which the lunar Fire Rooster is engraved in hot pink.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has issued its second lunar proof coins, again struck by the Singapore Mint: an ultra-high relief 500 ngultrum (40.70 mm, 31.10 g .999 Ag, 10,000), a colorized 1,000 ngultrum (27.00 mm, 7.77 g .9999 Au, 2,000) and an ultra-high-relief 1,000 ngultrum (65.00 mm, 155.5 g .999 Ag, 1,000).
All three have a common simple design featuring a stylized rooster.
L’année du Coq sees more cross-cultural blending from Monnaie de Paris. Two proof coins are available whose common reverses display a choice oriental fighting cock in all its glory: a €50 (22.00 mm, 8.45 g .920 Au, 500) and €10 (37.00 mm, 22.2 g .900 Ag, 5,000).
As with past issues, each reverse depicts the 17th century French fabulist, Jean de La Fontaine, along with all 12 lunar animals.
The coins are available from the online shop at www.monnaiedeparis.fr.
The RCM continues the lunar series of recent years but with some mintages lower than last year and one change in designer.
A design by Aries Cheung features on a $15 proof (38 mm, 31.39 g .9999 Ag, 10,888) and a $150 proof (28 mm, 11.84 g .750 Au, 2,500).
For the eighth year the RCM has struck its distinctively shaped, scalloped lotus $15 proof designed by Three Degrees Creative Group (38 mm, 26.7 g .9999 Ag, 13,888). The mintage is 5,000 less than in 2016.
The same Three Degrees design features on the reverses of the RCM’s scalloped proof $250 (120 mm, 1 kilo .9999 Ag, 300) and $2,500 (120 mm, 1 kilo .9999 Au, 10). Both coins show the Chinese character for rooster enclosed in a red enamel box.
And this year Three Degrees is credited with the design of the latest lunar specimen $10 (34 mm, 15.87 g .9999 Ag, 15,888). It features a most self-assured, albeit ornately graphic, rooster.
All coins are available from www.mint.ca/store/.
MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH have produced a sixth coin in their Laotian lunar series: a 2,000 kip proof (55 mm, 62.2 g .999 Ag, 2,888). The selectively gold-plated reverse bears appropriate YoR inscriptions in both Chinese and English and contains an inset ring of Burmese jade.
Fiji continues its lunar series of partially-gilded $10 proofs containing an embedded pink pearl (40 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag, 8,888). The coins have been struck by MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH.
For YoR, Palau has contributed a colorized, partly gilded, $5 proof (35.00 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag, 500). The colored reverse features the head of an alpha-male amongst roosters.
Britain’s Royal Mint has released further lunar Shengxiào series’ coins designed by Wuon-Gean Ho.
The artist has incorporated a visual pun in her design. Her rooster is that of a British breed: Marsh Daisy. It is pictured alongside 10 blooms of a plant of the same name but also known as the sea-thrift. The 10 blooms represent the 10th position the rooster holds in the lunar zodiac.
Four .9999 fine gold consist of: £10 BU (16.50 mm, 3.13 g, 2,088), £100 proof (32.69 mm, 31.21 g, 688), £500 proof (50 mm, 156.29 g, 38), £1000 proof (100 mm, 1005.0 g, 8). The three .999 fine silver are: £2 proof (38.61 mm, 31.21 g, 3,888), £10 proof (65.00 mm, 156.29 g, 388), £500 proof (100 mm, 1005.0 g, 68). Several mintages differ from 2016.
There are two BU bullion issues: £100 (32.69 mm, 31.21 g .9999 Au, 8,888) and £2 (38.61 mm, 31.21 g .999 Ag, 138,888). These have proved extremely popular with the Royal Mint’s Director of Bullion, Chris Howard, reporting last October, “The coin has already sold to full mintage in silver ... and gold is already 50 percent sold – before the official launch date.”
Tuvalu has contributed another colorized baby lunar animal 50 cents courtesy of Perth Mint (36.60 mm, 15.553 g .9999 Ag, 7,500). This year’s design by Jennifer McKenna shows a cute yellow chicken learning to crow. The coin is available from www.perthmint.com.au.
This was the coin Perth offered at the Beijing International Coin Exposition in a slightly different packaging.
And once again the Perth Mint has produced four partially-colored, proof, rectangular lunar dollars (47.60 by 27.60 mm, 31.135 g .9999 Ag, 3000). The designs by Natasha Muhl depict four different colored roosters disporting in a varied rural landscape.
And for the fifth year, Perth has issued a set of two colorized “Wealth & Wisdom” lunar dollars (40.60 mm, 31.135 g .9999 Ag, 1,500) with designs by Tom Vaughn.
British Virgin Islands
BVI have joined the annual lunar brigade via Pobjoy Mint. Two 46 by 32.86 mm coin have been produced: a BU $1 (22.8 g Æ, 5,000) and proof $10 (31.103 g Ag, 1,000).
Both are in the shape of a traditional Chinese lock charm regarded as safeguarding possessions and protecting an individual from evil – as well as bringing good fortune. Both come in traditional lai see packs.
Cameroon is another new-comer to the lunar festivities. It has contributed a colorized 500 francs proof showing a rooster on a stick (38.61 mm, 16.81 g .999, 4,000).
Seventeen YoR proof coins have been released by The People’s Bank of China: 10 gold and seven silver rounds, rectangles, auspicious fans and propitious plum blossoms, plus colored folk-themed issues. There are some changes in mintages from last year and the gram weights of the lower denomination coins have been rounded off to conform with the metrication of Chinese precious metal issues over the last 12 months.
The national emblem of the PRC on the obverse is accompanied by auspicious lotus and fish to invoke a further year of plenty. The reverse of all uncolored coins features a lifelike rooster strutting before the spirit of the heavenly Rooster along with the characters Ding You.
The .999 Au coins consist of rounds: a ¥100,000 (180 mm, 10 kg, 18), ¥20,000 (110 mm, 2 kg, 100); ¥5,000 (80 mm, 500 g, 2,000); ¥50 (18 mm, 3 g, 180,000); rectangle: ¥2,000 (64 x 40 mm, 150 g, 2,000); fan-shaped: ¥150 (10 g, 30,000); and scalloped plum blossom: ¥10,000 (100 mm, 1kg, 118), ¥200 (27 mm, 15 g, 8,000).
The .999 Ag coins include rounds: ¥300 (100 mm, 1 kg, 10,000) and ¥10 (40 mm, 30 g, 300,000); rectangle: ¥50 (80 x 50 mm, 150 g, 20,000); fan-shaped: ¥10 (30 g, 80,000); and scalloped plum blossom: ¥10 (40 mm, 30 g, 60,000).
Four selectively colored rounds show a traditional Chinese folk rooster, disporting amongst auspicious peonies. The .999 Au consist of a ¥2000 (60 mm, 150 g, 3,000) and a ¥50 (18 mm, 3 g, 180,000); the .999 Ag coins are ¥50 (70 mm, 150 g, 30,000) and ¥10 (40 mm, 30 g, 300,000).
All coins are legal tender of the People’s Republic of China. If your local dealer cannot supply any of the above, try China Great Wall Coins, www.chinacoin.com.hk, or Mrs Anita Chau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the website of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, a Year of the Rooster coin is scheduled for 2017. At the time of writing, no further information was forthcoming.
Last but my no means least, the Singapore Mint proudly announced the first issues of its fourth Chinese lunar coin series in late November.
The new YoR coins represent a break with the past. They include new shapes and sizes along with higher relief striking. The latter feature is most pronounced in a rectangular 1 kg $80 coin whose relief is at least three times that of previous 1 kg issues.
Ten different YoR coins are available. All depict a conventional rooster set against a background showing Kampong Buangkok, Singapore’s last remaining village. Subsequent lunar issues in this series will present each lunar animal set in a Singaporean park or natural landscape setting.
Three proof .9999 fine gold coins consist of a round $200 (60.00 mm, 155.518 g, 100), an octagonal $100 (40.00 mm, 31.104 g, 1,000) and a round $20 (21.96 mm, 7.776 g, 1,500). In addition, there is a rectangular BU $5 (8.70 by 15.00 mm, 1.000 g, 3,000).
The three proof .999 fine silver coins are a round $20 (65.00 mm, 155.518 g, 500), a scalloped and colored $5 (45.00 mm, 31.104 g, 15,000), and an octagonal $5 (45.00 mm, 31.104 g, 15,000). The high-relief rectangular 1 kg silver $80 is described as “proof-like” (114.50 by 60.50 mm, 1,000 g, 200).
As in the past, there is also a nickel-plated zinc round $2 (40.70 mm, 20.00 g, 20,000).
The piedfort silver strikings and puzzle coins of past years have been discontinued, but Singapore’s lunar coins are still available in four combination sets.
But there’s more!
This is the 13th year I have collated lunar issues from around the globe. As such, I am now at the start of a second lunar cycle. Numerous world mints and dealerships are owed thanks. Without the patience of their staff, these stories would not have seen the light of each new lunar moon.
As indicated at the beginning of this report, there are many more lunar coins available to collectors in 2017. Always remember, caveat emptor! Buy solely from reputable sources.
Medallic coin-like lunar issues abound, while numerous replica and unauthorized lunar coins continue to appear on the market, particularly via the Internet. Some are plated and/or underweight. A number lack the blessing of an issuing authority.
That aside, numismatists everywhere can welcome the Year of the Rooster with that cry common to all small Chinese children demanding their lai see packets: “Gong xi fa cái, hóng bao ná lái!” (Live long and prosper, now give me the money!)
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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