The lunar Year of the Dog [YoD] commences on solar date Feb. 16, 2018. Specifically, it is a Wu Xu, or Earth Dog, year. In Huángdi (continuous) reckoning, it is Year 4715.
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, over a dozen countries had released details of denominations and/or designs.
That said, the trend noted in the last three years of some downturns in both mintage numbers and varieties of lunar coins continues into YoD. Regardless of the state of the world’s economy, there is a perception 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 continue to appear.
Changes in mintages are seen among some major mints including Britain’s Royal Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint.
As in previous lunar reports, the YoD coins described here are but a sample of those on the market. Lunar issues of major mints are included but not all from the multitude of minor 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 finesses for Ag and Au.
At the time of writing, gold was selling in New York for approximately $1,290/oz, with silver at 17/oz.
In the main, the Dogs among us are simple, upright, and straightforward folk. They are brave, friendly, loyal and honest. They have a strong sense of justice and are compassionate, ready to right wrongs. They have a profound sense of duty and are steadfast in their careers where they perform well. They are fiercely loyal to those they love. Their intuition is superb.
That said, they are prone to emotional ups and downs. They can be stubborn, irritable and anger easily. They tend to be intolerant of the shortcomings of others, becoming hypercritical, suspicious and nitpicking. They are prone to being highly dependent and can all too easily be paranoid and/or reclusive. Too often they become preoccupied with analysis rather action.
Earth Dogs are highly talented and extremely perceptive with great life skills. They are extremely efficient and proactive, enabling them to go far in their professional careers. At times they can seem reserved, but they have persuasive manners that allow them to attain their goals with relative ease. They are kind and generous and always ready to lend a helping hand. They are trustworthy and dependable.
This past year, the tiny 3.9-square-mile Pacific island nation of Tokelau was marketing YoD coins a month before anyone else – courtesy Treasures of Oz (www.treasuresofoz.net). These included a third issue of the country’s mirror lunar series. The silver $5 (65 mm, 31.1 g, .999 Ag, 500) features two dogs as mirror images. It was minted by St. Paul’s Mint.
In addition, Tokelau released two “Dog Family” $5 proofs (38.6 mm, 1 oz, .999 Ag, 5,000; 11 mm, 0.5 g, .9999 Au, 1,500). These may eventually be available with alternative finishes.
Australia – Perth
The Perth Mint remains a major player in the lunar coin market. Its YoD coins are the 11th 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 Labrador Retriever standing alongside a stylized pine tree. All .9999 fine silver coins depict a German Shepherd and pup alongside peony flowers. Both designs are by Ing Ing Jong.
Three gold proofs consist of: $15 (18.60 mm, 3.111 g, 8,000), $25 (22.60 mm, 7.777 g, 8,000) and $100 (39.34 mm, 31.107 g, 6,000). Four silver proofs are 50 cents (36.60 mm, 15.553 g, 9,000), $1 (45.60 mm, 31.107 g, 8,500), $2 (55.60 mm, 62.213 g, 2,000) and $30 (100.60 mm, 1 kilo, 500). The $100 gold and $1 silver are available also with colored reverses.
Perth’s gold lunar bullion is in its 22nd year while the silver bullion marks its 19th. For the YoD, there are eight gold and seven silver bullion pieces.
The gold consists of: $5 (1.555 g), $15 (3.111 g), $25 (7.777 g), $50 (15.554 g), $100 (31.107 g), $200 (62.213 g), $1,000 (311.066 g) and $3,000 (1000.100 g). The sole gold coin with a limited mintage is the $100 (30,000).
The silver coins are: 50 cents (15.553 g), $1 (31.107 g), $2 (62.213 g), $8 (155.533 g), $10 (311.066 g), $30 (1,000.100 g) and $300 (10,001.000 g). All have unlimited mintages apart from the $1 (300,000) and $300 (100).
Gilded, colored, bullion, and proof versions of the silver dollar are available individually and as a packaged set with a mintage of 1,500. The 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). And a high relief gold $100 comes struck on a 5 mm thick flan (27.30 mm, 31.107 g, .9999 Au, 388).
For the Sydney Money Expo held last October, Perth released a YoD 25 cents (25.50 mm, 7.777 g, .9999 Ag, unlimited).
Perth has also released its 11th 1 kilo silver $30 in which a gem forms one of the lunar animal’s eyes (100.60 mm, 1000.100 g, .9999 Ag, 500). This year, a blue sapphire lights up the dog’s eye.
Australia - RAM
For the Royal Australian Mint, YoD is its 11th issue of lunar coins. The common reverse design shows a dog with pine tree behind and surrounded by original lunar design elements that appeared on earlier issues in this series.
Five versions are available: BU $1 (25 mm, 9 g, Al-Bz, 20,000), proof $1 (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 seventh lunar BU tetradecagonal 50 cents (31.15 mm, 15.37 g, Cu-Ni, 50,000).
Downie’s annual Niuean lunar coin was released in August: a selectively 23.5 karat gold-plated proof $8 (65 mm, 5 oz, .999 Ag, 500) struck in high relief. It was designed in-house by the Downies Product Development team and struck by Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux. Each coin is edge numbered.
From Mennica Polska comes a second lunar dollar (38.61 mm, 17.50 g, .999 Ag, 999) sporting a standard issue dog portrait along with seven gilded lucky paw prints.
There is also a colorized and scalloped proof dollar (41 mm, 16.81 g, .999 Ag, 999) that would make a delightful Christening gift for those born in the YoD.
In addition, this mint has produced a third lunar $1 coin pendant highlighted by a platinum-colored SWAROVSKI ELEMENT (13 x 30 mm, 10 g, .999 Ag, 1,000).
New Zealand Mint has contributed two Niuean $2s both 40.00 mm, 31.1g, .999 Ag, 10,000. One depicts a pair of German Shepherds; the other features Mickey Mouse with a stylized dog. The latter is the first issue of a Disney-licensed lunar coin collection.
NZM also offers a 150x70 mm, 5.0 g, .999 fine silver colored foil engraved with the same image of Mickey Mouse and Chinese lunar dog on the back. The face bears the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The denomination is 20 cents (New Zealand). Mintage is 50,000.
For the first time, two Niuean bullion issues are available, both from NZM: a $2 (40.00 mm, 31.1 g, .999 Ag) and a $250 (40.00 mm, 31.1g, .9999 Au). Mintages were to be announced.
Canada – RCM
The RCM has produced its ninth distinctively shaped, scalloped lotus $15 proof designed by Three Degrees Creative Group (38 mm, 26.7 g, .9999 Ag, 18,888). The mintage is 8,000 less than in 2017.
The same Three Degrees design features on the reverse of a scalloped proof $2,500 (120 mm, 1 kilo, .9999 Au, 10) on which the Chinese character for dog occurs in a red enamel box. At the time of going to print, no similar scalloped proof $250 in silver had been announced such as had been issued in previous years.
Meanwhile, artist Simon Ng has contributed a choice stylized dog, complete with a lucky rose, on the reverse of a silver $10 (34 mm, 15.87 g, .9999 Ag, 15,888). And Aries Cheung has created a very different stylized pooch with an auspicious cloud both on a silver $15 proof (38 mm, 31.39 g, .9999 Ag, 10,088) and a gold $150 proof (28.0 mm, 11.84 g, .750 Au, 1,500).
All coins are available from www.mint.ca/store/.
France – MdP
Last year, Monnaie de Paris completed a full 12-year cycle of lunar coins. All issues were combined with the fables of La Fontaine. With the commencement of a new cycle in 2018, MdP has struck out in quite a different direction.
The YoD collection consists of a 10 euro (37.00 mm, 22.2 g, .900 Ag, 5,000), a 20 euro (22.00 mm, 31.104 g, .999 Ag, 5,000) and a 50 euro (22.00 mm, 7.78 g, .999 Au, 500). All coins are proof. The 20 euro is stuck in ultra-high relief of 1.50 mm, compared with the usual 0.15 mm.
The common reverse depicts a Chow Chow bursting enthusiastically through two circular friezes, both of which display traditional Chinese motifs, including those of the lunar cycle. The dog character is prominently displayed at the Chow’s shoulder.
The obverse displays temple gates enclosed in a screen decorated with the 12 Chinese lunar animals and numbered with the years of the current cycle: 2018 to 2029. Presumably this will be the common obverse for the MdP lunar issues for the next 11 years.
The coins were available online at www.monnaiedeparis.fr.
MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH have produced a seventh coin in their Laotian lunar series: a 2000 kip proof (55 mm, 62.2 g, .999 Ag, 2,888). The selectively gold-plated reverse bears appropriate YoD inscriptions in both Chinese and English and contains an inset ring of Burmese jade.
This year’s Mongolia’s YoD coin comes, as usual, courtesy Coin Invest Trust: a 1,000 togrog proof (11 mm, 0.5 g, .9999 Au, 15,000).
In addition, in September, CIT released a Mongolbank [Bank of Mongolia] silver 100 togrog YoD note, 70x150 mm, containing 5 g silver. The back of the note shows a Mongol Bankhar, a mastiff formerly kept by the nomadic herders.
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.
Kazakhstan has issued it eighth 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 are dodecagonal and bear similar designs.
The obverse shows a distinctly oriental lunar dog within a circle formed by the 11 other lunar animals along with a legend in English, Russian and Kazakh. The reverse presents a number of constellations of the northern sky. For more information, see www.nationalbank.kz.
For a second year, the Republic of Macedonia has contributed to the annual numismatic lunacy, courtesy of Switzerland’s International Coin House. Two colorized 100 denars have been struck (38.61 mm, 28.28 g, .925 Ag, 5,000).
The first presents the dog as defender of house and home before a background of Sun, Moon and stars. The second shows a dog pulling a two-wheel cart laden with gold coins; the inscription reads: WEALTHY YEAR OF THE DOG.
Two further coins have been released in the Solomon Islands’ lunar series through MDM. These are massive proofs: $25 (65.0 mm, 155.5 g, .999 Ag, 888) and $200 (65.0 mm, 155.5 g, .999 Au, 25). As with Macedonia, the dog is depicted as the source of home security, in this case a Rottweiler.
Great Britain – RM
Once again, designer Wuon-Gean Ho is responsible for further Shengxiào lunar coins from Britain’s Royal Mint.
The artist has chosen an exuberant terrier for her 2018 YoD design. The dog is a Jack Russell-West Highland White Terrier cross. The coin field behind the bouncy pooch shows the biometric nose print of a greyhound. Just as humans have distinctive fingerprints, each dog has its own unique nose print. Wuon Gean commented, “The pixelated nature of the nose print is a contemporary take on the digitized information that surrounds us in the 21st century.”
Four .9999 fine gold consist of: £10 BU (16.50 mm, 3.13 g, 1,088), £100 proof (32.69 mm, 31.21 g, 888), £500 proof (50 mm, 156.29 g, 38), £1000 proof (100 mm, 1005.0 g, 10). The three .999 fine silver are: £2 proof (38.61 mm, 31.21 g, 5,008), £10 proof (65.00 mm, 156.29 g, 388), £500 proof (100 mm, 1005.0 g, 108). Several mintages differ from 2016 and 2017.
Wuon-Gean Ho’s design is also available as two bullion issues: a £2 (38.61 mm, 31.21 g, .999 Ag) and a £100 (32.69 mm, 31.21 g, .9999 Au). Mintages had not been supplied at the time of going to press.
The head of a handsome German Shepherd features on the reverse of Palau’s $5 proof. Three versions are available, all struck in ultra-high relief: colorized (35.00 mm, 1 oz, .999 Ag, 500); selectively gilded edge (35.00 mm, 1 oz, .999 Ag, 1,000); and gilded head (35.00 mm, 1 oz, .999 Ag, 500).
Macau’s 11th group of colorized lunar proofs follow previous 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 an extremely content dog enjoying some splendid chrysanthemum blooms. On the reverse is a further UNESCO World Heritage Site in Macau: the “Leal Senado” Building dating from 1784.
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has issued its third lunar proof coin series, again struck by the Singapore Mint in ultra-high relief: a 500 ngultrum (40.70 mm, 31.10 g, .999 Ag, 10,000), a 1,000 ngultrum (65.00 mm, 155.5 g, .999 Ag, 1,000), and a 1,000 ngultrum (21.96 mm, 7.776 g, .9999 Au, 2,000).
All three have a common simple design featuring a stylized dog decorated with flowers, leaves and clouds. The reverse features the picturesque Haa Valley in color.
Among all the annual lunar issues, those of the Republic of Belarus are brilliantly idiosyncratic. This year’s 20 rubles is no exception (38.61 mm, 33.63 g, .925 Ag). The engravers, S. Zaskevich and O. Novosiolova, have produced a wonderful space-suited lunar dog, There is an undoubted nod to Laika, the first living creature to orbit the Earth aboard Sputnik II 60 years ago.
The coin was struck by the Kazakhstan Mint and comes dated 2107.
Tuvalu has contributed another colorized baby lunar animal 50 cents courtesy of Perth Mint (36.60 mm, 15.553 g, .9999 Ag, 7,500). The reverse design by Ing Ing Jong shows a Labrador puppy unwrapping a present. The coin is available from www.perthmint.com.au.
The same coin was offered by Perth at the Beijing International Coin Exposition in a slightly different packaging.
And once again, the Perth has produced four partially colored proof rectangular lunar dollars (47.60 x27.60 mm, 31.107 g, .9999 Ag, 3000). The designs by Ing Ing Jong depict a Chow Chow, a Dalmatian, a Pekingese and a Bulldog disporting in a varied but linked rural landscape.
But there’s more! In November, Perth also released two colorized Wealth & Wisdom Tuvaluan lunar dollars (40.60 mm, 31.135 g, .9999 Ag, 1,500). For the Wealth, coin designer Lucas Bowers presents a large Rottweiler sprawled across a stash of gold coins. The Wisdom dollar shows a Border Collie sitting on the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra along with traditional symbols of knowledge and learning.
For the YoD, Cameroon has contributed a 3,000 CFA francs (55.0 mm, 93.3 g, .925, 500). The entire reverse is occupied by a front-on view of a watchful dog in repose, its eyes selectively colored. The coin is the work of Moneda Nueva.
For the second year, Rwanda has issued two BU lunar coins: 50 francs (40.0 mm, 31.1 g, .999 Ag) and 100 francs (40.0 mm, 31.1 g, .999 AU, 188). A silver proof is also available.
The reverse bears a stylized dog constructed from mosaic tiles.
Seventeen YoD proof coins have been released by The People’s Bank of China to celebrate YoD: 10 gold and seven silver rounds, rectangles, auspicious fans and propitious plum blossoms, plus colored folk-themed issues. The denominations, weights and mintages are the same as last year. All coins have been struck by the Shenyang and Shenzhen Guobao Mints.
The national emblem of the People’s Republic of China 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 Short-haired Chow posed before the spirit of the heavenly Dog along with the characters Wu Xu.
The .999 Au coins consist of rounds: ¥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 Chinese traditional folk dog disporting among auspicious lotus blossoms. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but by no means least, in late November the Singapore Mint proudly announced further issues of its Chinese lunar coin Series IV.
The new shapes and sizes announced last year continue into YoD, as does high-relief striking. The latter is most evident on a rectangular 1 kg $80 coin.
Ten different YoD coins are available. All depict a conventional dog set against a background of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens – the city state’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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 (8.70x15.00 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 selectively colored $5 (45.00 mm, 31.104 g, 15,000), and an octagonal $5 (45.00 mm, 31.104 g, 15,000). A selectively colored $2 round (27.00 mm, 7.776 g, .999 Ag, 30,000) is described as “proof-like.” The same description is used for the finish of the ultra-high-relief rectangular 1 kg silver $80 (114.50x60.50 mm, 1,000.00 g, 200).
As in the past, there is also a “proof-like” nickel-plated zinc round $2 (40.70 mm, 20.00 g, 60,000).
Singapore’s lunar coins continue to be available in four combination sets.
Last year, I commenced my second 12-year cycle of collating details and images of lunar coin issues from around the globe. I could not continue to do so without the assistance of numerous world mints and dealerships. Their staff are owed sincere thanks for their patience.
As always, there are far more lunar coins available to collectors than reported here. Among the many on offer, I spotted several regular lunar issues that have been selectively plated with ruthenium.
In addition, medallic coin-like lunar issues abound, and numerous replica and unauthorized lunar coins exploit the market, particularly via the Internet. Some are plated and/or underweight. Always remember, caveat emptor! Buy solely from reputable sources.
Numismatists everywhere can welcome the Year of the Dog with that cry common to Chinese children demanding their lai see packets of coins: “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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