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Year of the Pig brings plenty of coins

On solar date Feb. 5, 2019, a new lunar year dawns. It is the start of Year of the Pig [YoP], or the Year of the Boar [YoB], or the Year of the Swine [YoS], or whatever your preferred porcine fancy might be. Specifically, it is the Year of the Earth Pig year. In continuous Huángdi reckoning, it is Year 4717.

YOP

For the past 12 months or more, mints around the world have been busy, anxious to cash in on the world’s largest numismatic program. The first lunar coins for the YoP were announced in February 2018 at Berlin’s World Money Fair by MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH. By August 2018, new issues were coming thick and fast. Many of the early releases were from Pacific countries.

That said, the trend noted in the last four years of some declines in mintage numbers and lunar coin varieties continues into YoP. The perception that the lunar coin market became saturated a year or two back persists. A couple of smaller mints ceased production of lunar coins in the past 24 months, while reduced mintages and/or changes in design styles have occurred in several major mints. These include Britain’s Royal Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Royal Australian Mint, China Gold, and Singapore Mint. Yet any seeming vacuum in this crowded market is being filled by new players trying their hand. Low-mintage boutique strikings continue to appear.

The YoP coins described here are but a sample of those on the market. Lunar issues of major mints are included but not all from the numerous minor players.

For each coin type, the diameter, weight, metal composition, and mintage are summarized in parenthesis. The metal is cited 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 U.S.$1,222/oz, with silver at U.S.$14/oz. A late surge in prices then took gold to $1,290 and silver to $15.65.

Pig tales

The pig is the last animal of the Chinese zodiac. The current 12-year lunar cycle concludes this year.

In the main, people born in a YoP have attractive personalities. They are diligent, compassionate, and generous.

These individuals, whom I will call Pigs for short, are commonly highly focused and, having determined a particular goal, will devote all their energy to achieving it. They have a great sense of responsibility and will finish whatever they have started. No matter the difficulties Pigs encounter, they proceed in straightforward and careful manner. They remain calm, rarely asking for assistance but not hesitating to lend a helping hand to others.

Unfortunately, their good nature can make them naive and prone to being conned by others. In this respect, they are not helped by their somewhat casual attitude to money.

Earth Pigs are something of social butterflies. Their friends come from all walks of life. But they are not the most romantic of people and may need to work on this aspect of their relationships.

 Reverse of Laos’ silver proof YoP 2000 kip with its central jade core. (Image courtesy MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH)

Reverse of Laos’ silver proof YoP 2000 kip with its central jade core. (Image courtesy MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH)

Laos

Among the issues announced by MDM in Berlin was the eighth coin produced for the Laotian lunar series: a 2,000 kip proof (55 mm, 62.2 g .999 Ag, 2,888). The selectively gold-plated reverse bears appropriate YoP inscriptions in both Chinese and English and contains an inset ring of Burmese jade.

 Reverse of the ninth massive 5 oz lunar gold proof $200 struck by MdM showing the Earth Pig engraved in a mother-of-pearl insert. (Image courtesy MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH)

Reverse of the ninth massive 5 oz lunar gold proof $200 struck by MdM showing the Earth Pig engraved in a mother-of-pearl insert. (Image courtesy MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH)

Cook Islands

For the ninth year, MDM has struck a 5-ounce silver Cook Islands’ proof $25 (65 mm, 155.5 g .999 Ag, 888) and 5-ounce proof $200 (65 mm, 155.5 g .999 Au, 25). The reverses of both coins contain a mother-of-pearl inlay in which the lunar Earth Pig is engraved in appropriate pink.

 Reverse of Fiji’s partially gilded $10 proof containing an embedded pink pearl. (Image courtesy MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH)

Reverse of Fiji’s partially gilded $10 proof containing an embedded pink pearl. (Image courtesy MDM Münzhandelsgesellschaft mbH)

Fiji

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.

 Reverse of Tokelau’s fourth “Mirror Series” lunar silver $5. (Images courtesy treasuresofoz.net)

Reverse of Tokelau’s fourth “Mirror Series” lunar silver $5. (Images courtesy treasuresofoz.net)

Tokelau

The tiny Pacific island nation of Tokelau announced its YoP coins in early July 2018, to be released by Treasures of Oz (www.treasuresofoz.net) in August. The silver $5s (65 mm, 31.1 g .999 Ag, 500) are the fourth issue in the country’s mirror lunar series.

The proof coin features a finely sculptured pig set against a highly polished field while its mirror image has a frosted table. The coins were struck by Det Norske Myntverket.

 A selectively gold-plated sow dominates Niue’s proof $8 struck by Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux. (Image courtesy www.downies.com)

A selectively gold-plated sow dominates Niue’s proof $8 struck by Produits Artistiques Métaux Précieux. (Image courtesy www.downies.com)

Niue

Downie’s annual Niuean lunar coin was issued in late July: a selectively 24-karat gold-plated proof $8 (65 mm, 155.5175 g [5-ounce] .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.

 Helvetic Mint’s satinated silver Niuean dollar shaped as for a pig and bearing a four-leaf clover. (Image courtesy Helvetic Mint)

Helvetic Mint’s satinated silver Niuean dollar shaped as for a pig and bearing a four-leaf clover. (Image courtesy Helvetic Mint)

From Helvetic Mint comes a 20x10 mm, 2.5 g .999 fine silver dollar in the shape of a piggy embellished with a four-leaf clover. The coin has a “satinated” or “smooth antique finish” and a mintage of 500.

 Mennica Polska’s YoP silver Niue dollar shows a happy piggy perched on a golden bag of money accompanied by seven gilded auspicious coins. (Image courtesy Mennica Polska)

Mennica Polska’s YoP silver Niue dollar shows a happy piggy perched on a golden bag of money accompanied by seven gilded auspicious coins. (Image courtesy Mennica Polska)

Mennica Polska has contributed a second lunar dollar (38.61 mm, 17.50 g .999 Ag, 999). Its design symbolizes peace, prosperity, and harmony in the coming year. A cute piggy perches on a golden bag of money. Below are seven gilded auspicious gold coins.

 A brown boar sports colored floral motifs on one silver lunar Niuean $2. On a second, Mickey Mouse accompanies a floral pig on this second Disney-licensed lunar coin from New Zealand Mint. (Images courtesy Power Coin)

A brown boar sports colored floral motifs on one silver lunar Niuean $2. On a second, Mickey Mouse accompanies a floral pig on this second Disney-licensed lunar coin from New Zealand Mint. (Images courtesy Power Coin)

As last year, New Zealand Mint has produced two Niuean $2s (40.00 mm, 31.1g .999 Ag, 10,000). One depicts a dark brown boar sporting brightly colored floral motifs. The other features Mickey Mouse with a floral pig – the second issue of a Disney-licensed NZM lunar coin collection.

 Back of Niue’s 20 cents silver foil presents Mickey Mouse with a lunar pig. (Image courtesy John Mulhall ex New Zealand Mint)

Back of Niue’s 20 cents silver foil presents Mickey Mouse with a lunar pig. (Image courtesy John Mulhall ex New Zealand Mint)

And for the second year in a row, NZM has weighed in with a 150x70 mm, 5.0 g .999 fine silver colored foil. The back is engraved with the image of Mickey Mouse and lunar pig. The face bears the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The denomination is 20 cents (New Zealand). Mintage is 50,000.

 Common reverse designs of Perth Mint’s YoP coins: gold (left) and silver (right). (Images courtesy Perth Mint)

Common reverse designs of Perth Mint’s YoP coins: gold (left) and silver (right). (Images courtesy Perth Mint)

Australia – Perth

The Perth Mint remains a major player in the lunar coin market. Its YoP coins are the 12th issue of Perth’s Series II. A summary is given here. Full details can be found on Perth’s website: www.perthmint.com.au.

The reverse of all .9999 fine gold issues shows a Pet Pig amid stylized rocks and an auspicious peony flower. All .9999 fine silver coins show a large sow and four piglets under stylized foliage.

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 $0.50 (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 proofs are available also with colored reverses.

Perth’s gold lunar bullion is in its 23rd year while the silver bullion marks its 20th. The gold consists of: $5 (1.555 g), $15 (3.111 g), $25 (7.777 g), $50 (15.553 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 (1,000.10 g), and $300 (10,001.00 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 also comes 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 is struck on a 5 mm thick flan (27.30 mm, 31.107 g .9999 Au, 388).

As was the case last year, Perth Mint released a colored BU lunar YoP 25 cents (25.50 mm, 7.777 g .9999 Ag, 1500) for a major coin bourse held in Sydney in October.

Perth has also produced its 12th 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 golden citrine lights up the piggy’s smile.

 Cute colorized piglet fronts the reverse of Palau’s selectively gilded $5 proof. (Image courtesy Power Coin)

Cute colorized piglet fronts the reverse of Palau’s selectively gilded $5 proof. (Image courtesy Power Coin)

Palau

A cute piglet poses on the reverse of the Palau $5s struck by BH Mayer. Three 35.00 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag versions are available in ultra-high relief: colored proof (500); gilded edge (1,000); and gilded proof (500).

 Common reverse of Macau’s colorized YoP coins as shown by the gold 250 patacas. (Image courtesy Singapore Mint)

Common reverse of Macau’s colorized YoP coins as shown by the gold 250 patacas. (Image courtesy Singapore Mint)

Macau

Macau’s 12th group of colorized lunar proofs follow previous years: 250 patacas (21.96 mm, 7.78 g .9999 Au, 5,000), 100 patacas (65 mm, 155.5 g .999 Ag, 2000), and 20 patacas (40.70 mm, 31.10 g .999 Ag, 8,000).

The common obverse shows an extremely content pig snuffling among some splendid hydrangea blooms. The latter signify abundance and prosperity. On the reverse is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Macau: the “Na Tcha Temple” Building dating from 1888.

 Mongolia’s silver 1,000 togrog “Jolly Silver Pig” and conventional 1,000 togrog YoP gold round. (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

Mongolia’s silver 1,000 togrog “Jolly Silver Pig” and conventional 1,000 togrog YoP gold round. (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

Mongolia

Once again Mongolia’s lunar issues come courtesy of Liechtenstein’s Coin Invest Trust. First up is a 1,000 togrog (33 mm, 1 oz .999 Ag, 999) “Jolly Silver Pig.” Smartminting® has allowed this critter to be rendered in three dimensions and embellished with floral ornamentation. A gilded version is also available.

 A flower-bedecked “Jolly Silver Pig” features on Mongolbank’s silver foil 100 togrog. (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

A flower-bedecked “Jolly Silver Pig” features on Mongolbank’s silver foil 100 togrog. (Images courtesy Coin Invest Trust)

There is a conventional 1,000 togrog (11 mm, 0.5 g, .9999 Au, 5,000) round and, as last year, a Mongolbank [Bank of Mongolia] metallic, 70x150 mm, 100 togrog YoP note containing 5 g silver. The back of the note shows a further “Jolly Silver Pig” decorated with flowers. Mintage is 5,000.

 Reverses of RAM’s BU YoP aluminum-bronze dollars representing Fu (Happiness), Lu (Wealth), and Shou (Longevity). (Images courtesy RAM)

Reverses of RAM’s BU YoP aluminum-bronze dollars representing Fu (Happiness), Lu (Wealth), and Shou (Longevity). (Images courtesy RAM)

Australia – RAM

The YoP sees the 12th issue of lunar coins from the Royal Australian Mint. Three main proof versions are available: a $5 (40.00 mm, 1 oz .9999 fine Ag, 3500), a $30 (99.95 mm, 1 kg .9999 Ag, 100), and a $25 (21.69 mm, 1/4 oz .9999 Au, 1,000).

These coins’ common reverse design differs markedly from that of the previous years. It features a playful pig rolling joyously among auspicious hydrangeas. The gold bears a $25 denomination as “2” and “5” are considered auspicious YoP numbers.

In addition, the RAM has produced a set of three BU dollars (25.00 mm, 9.00 g Al-Bz, 20,000) depicting different portraits of the playful pig among the flowers. Each is accompanied by auspicious coins that represent Fu (Happiness), Lu (Wealth), and Shou (Longevity) as indicated by the changing Chinese characters on these coins. Designer is Bronwyn King.

 Left: common reverse of this year’s RAM’s YoP proof issues as shown by the auspicious gold $25. Right: Stevan Stojanovic’s eighth lunar BU tetradecagonal 50 cents. (Images courtesy RAM)

Left: common reverse of this year’s RAM’s YoP proof issues as shown by the auspicious gold $25. Right: Stevan Stojanovic’s eighth lunar BU tetradecagonal 50 cents. (Images courtesy RAM)

And the RAM has struck its eighth lunar BU tetradecagonal 50 cents (31.15 mm, 15.37 g Cu-Ni, unlimited).

 Two Canadian lunar pigs. At left is Three Degrees Creative Group’s scalloped proof gold $2,500; at right, Aries Cheung’s stylized Lunar Pig smiles beneath a rain cloud on a silver proof $15. (Images courtesy Royal Canadian Mint)

Two Canadian lunar pigs. At left is Three Degrees Creative Group’s scalloped proof gold $2,500; at right, Aries Cheung’s stylized Lunar Pig smiles beneath a rain cloud on a silver proof $15. (Images courtesy Royal Canadian Mint)

Canada – Royal Canadian Mint

The RCM has produced its tenth distinctively shaped scalloped lotus $15 proof designed by Three Degrees Creative Group (38 mm, 26.7 g .9999 Ag, 15,888). The reverse features a profile portrait of a smiling pig surrounded by a semi-circle of auspicious blossoms.

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 pig occurs in a red enamel box.

Canadian artist Aries Cheung has contributed a stylized Lunar Pig smiling under a rain cloud. It comes as both a silver $15 proof (38 mm, 31.39 g .9999 Ag, 15,088) and a gold $150 proof (28.0 mm, 11.84 g .750 Au, 1,500).

All coins are available from www.mint.ca/store/.

Cameroon

For The Republic of Cameroon, Mennica Polska has produced a pierced 500 CFA francs proof (27.00 mm, 8.80 g .925 Ag, 999). The reverse design shows a flying black piglet with the legend “Everything is possible”. The coin comes supplied with a leather suspension cord.