The Royal Mint produces the British Lunar Gold coins out of 99.99% pure gold with both a brilliant uncirculated and proof finish. The design of the reverse side of the British Lunar Gold coins changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance. The annual mintage of the British Shēngxiào Lunar Gold Series coins is severely limited.
The coin's obverse side depicts a portrait of the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II. The 2014 and 2015 coin shows Ian Rank-Broadley's portrait of her majesty. Since 2016, the obverse displays the newest effigy of the Queen by Jody Clark. In both versions, her majesty is shown in profile wearing a royal tiara. Along the edge of the coin are engraved her majesty's title, the Latin abbreviation of “Reg Fid Def” and the coin’s denomination.
The design of the reverse side of the British Lunar Gold coins changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance. In 2017, a Marsh Daisy Rooster appears on the coin amidst ten marsh daisy (a.k.a. sea-thrift) flowers. The choice of ten marsh daisy flowers on the "Year of the Rooster" coin was done on purpose as the rooster is the tenth animal in the Chinese zodiac.
The British Shēngxiào Lunar coin series began in 2014. That first year's "Year of the Horse" coin depicts a galloping horse in front of the carving of the famous Uffington Horse, that is carved into the chalk hills of Oxfordshire. The Uffington White Horse is a 110 m long prehistoric hill carving that presumably dates to the Iron Age or late Bronze Age. The 2015 "Year of the Sheep" coin depicts two Swaledale sheep that are meant to symbolise family and friendship. Two rhesus monkeys on a tree appear on the 2016 "Year of the Monkey" coins.
A dedication to the corresponding year in the Chinese zodiac along with the Chinese hanzi character for the zodiac animal also appear on the coin's reverse. The coin's weight, purity and year of issuance is inscribed as well.
Gold Purity: 99.99%
|Weight||Face Value||Diameter x Thickness|
|1 kg||£ 1000||100 x ?? mm|
|5 oz||£ 500||65 x ?? mm|
|1 oz||£ 100||32.69 x 2.7 mm|
|1/4 oz||£ 25||22 x 1.2 mm|
|1/10 oz||£ 10||16.5 x 1.2 mm|
Silver Purity: 99.9%
|Weight||Face Value||Diameter x Thickness|
|£ 500||100 x ?? mm|
|5 oz||£ 10||65 x ?? mm|
|1 oz||£ 2||38.61 x 3.00 mm|
The Royal Mint launched the British Shengxiào Lunar Gold Series in 2014 with the "Year of the Horse" gold coins. The second issue of the series in 2015 celebrates the "Year of the Sheep" and the 2016 edition the "Year of the Monkey". Starting with the 2016 issue, Ian Rank-Broadley's depiction of the Queen on the obverse side was replaced by Jody Clark's new version. Altogether, the series will ultimately consist of 12 editions, corresponding to the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. The zodiac animal images on the coins are designed by the British-Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho. She is a respected artist and printmaker with a degree from Cambridge University. Annual mintages of the coins that make up the series are severely limited.
Compared to other gold bullion coins, mintage of the British Lunar Gold coins is quite limited and has even declined in 2016. The 1 oz denomination is by far the most common. 1/4 oz Lunar Gold coins were only minted in 2015 and 5 oz and 1 kg coins are only minted as proof coins.
Only 38 five-ounce proof coins will be struck in gold in 2016. The 1 oz gold proof coin will be minted 888 times. The mintage of the brilliant uncirculated 1/10 oz gold coin has gone down from 2,888 pieces in 2015 to 1,888 coins in 2016.
For the 2016 "Year of the Monkey" edition, a 1 kg gold coin (only with proof finish) was added to the series with a total mintage of only 8 such coins.
The frequent appearance of the number 8 in the annual mintage numbers is not a coincidence. In China, the number 8 represents prosperity.
Click here to see a table with detailed mintage numbers.
British Lunar Silver coins are struck out of 99.9% fine silver since 2014 and bear the same design as the gold coins. They exist in the three denominations of 1 oz (both brilliant uncirculated and proof coins), 5 oz (only proof coins) and 1 kg (only proof coins).
The silver series started with only the 1 oz denomination in 2014. The 1 oz silver coins are larger (diameter of 38.61 mm) than the 1 oz gold coins (32.69 mm) and have a face value of 2 British Pounds. Their mintage limit is also much higher than that of the 1 oz gold coins (e.g. 138,888 BU coins in 2016). Mintage of the 1 oz proof coin has declined a bit from 9,888 coins in 2015 to 8,054 coins in 2016.
The 5 oz proof British Lunar Silver coin was introduced in 2015. Mintage was capped at 1,088 coins that first year and has gone down to 588 pieces in 2016.
In 2016, the 1 kg proof coin was added to the series. Only 88 such coins will be minted.
There are also 1 oz proof British Lunar coins out of 99.9% silver plated with 99.99% gold. These gold-plated silver coins are identical in size and face value to the 'regular' 1 oz silver coins mentioned above. Only 4,888 such gold-plated proof coins were made in 2015.