Australian Silver Lunar Coins

silver coin icon Australia flag icon Silver Lunar Coins - differently designed than the gold version

The design of the reverse side of the Australian Silver Lunar coins changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance. Unusually, the design of the zodiac animal on the silver coins is different from that on the Australian Gold Lunar coins though. There are two independent series of the silver coins. The Perth Mint started the first series in 1999 with the "Year of the Rabbit". A very unusual characteristic of the silver version of the Australian Lunar coins is that the 2nd Silver Lunar series started (in 2008) while the 1st series was still ongoing (until 2010). The final edition of the Australian Lunar silver coins of the 2nd series will be issued in 2019.

The Australian Lunar silver coins are minted out of 99.99% pure silver since 2017. Until 2016, the coins had a fineness of 99.9%. Many different denominations are offered between 1/2 oz and 10 kg. The diameter and thickness of the various denominations differs between the 1st and 2nd Lunar series though. Buyers can choose between brilliant uncirculated and proof coins. Other available versions of the coins include high relief proof coins, proof coins with special privy marks, gilded coins (BU and proof), colorized coins (BU and proof) and even colorized coins where the zodiac animals have special gemstone eyes.

Both the 1st and 2nd Australian Silver Lunar series is fully backed by the Australian government regarding the coins' weight and purity. The coins have the status of legal tender in Australia but their real value is of course much higher than their nominal face value. They can be included in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) just like all other silver bullion coins with a minimum purity of 99.9%.

reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated Year of the Rooster 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coin
obverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated Year of the Rooster 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coin
reverse side of the 2016 issue of the brilliant uncirculated Year of the Monkey 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coin
obverse side of the 2016 issue of the brilliant uncirculated Year of the Monkey 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coin

Lunar Series 2 (2008 - 2019)

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter x Thickness
10 kg AUD $ 300 99.99%* 221 x 33 mm
1 kg AUD $ 30 99.99%* 100.6 x 14.6 mm
1/2 kg AUD $ 15 99.99%* 100.6 x 7.4 mm
10 oz AUD $ 10 99.99%* 85.6 x 6.6 mm
5 oz AUD $ 8 99.99%* 65.6 x 5.8 mm
2 oz AUD $ 2 99.99%* 55.6 x 3.6 mm
1 oz AUD $ 1 99.99%* 45.6 x 2.6 mm
1/2 oz AUD $ 0.5 99.99%* 36.6 x 2.3 mm

* 99.99% purity since 2017 (99.9% until 2016)

colorized gemstone edition of the 2015 Year of the Goat Australian Silver Lunar coin
reverse side of the 1999 issue of the brilliant uncirculated Year of the Rabbit 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coin
obverse side of the 1999 issue of the brilliant uncirculated Year of the Rabbit 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coin

Lunar Series 1 (1999 - 2010)

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter x Thickness
10 kg AUD $ 300 99.9% 220 x ?? mm
1 kg AUD $ 30 99.9% 101 x 14.6 mm
1/2 kg AUD $ 15 99.9% 85.5 x 10.3 mm
10 oz AUD $ 10 99.9% 75.5 x 8.7 mm
5 oz AUD $ 8 99.9% 60.3 x 7.9 mm
2 oz AUD $ 2 99.9% 50.3 x 4.5 mm
1 oz AUD $ 1 99.9% 40.6 x 4 mm
1/2 oz AUD $ 0.5 99.9% 32.1 x 3.1 mm

All Australian Silver Lunar Coin Designs

Design

The British Queen Elizabeth II is depicted in profile with her royal tiara on the obverse side of the coins. That is meant to symbolize Australia’s unwavering allegiance to the crown and the British Commonwealth. The words "ELIZABETH II" and "AUSTRALIA" are engraved along the upper left and right edge of the coin. The year of mintage, face value, weight and purity information appear along the lower edge on the coins of the 2nd Lunar series. The Lunar coins of the first series only displayed the coin's face value at that spot though. The year of mintage, weight and purity info appears on the reverse side of the coins of the 1st series.

The design of the reverse side of the Australian Silver Lunar coins changes annually and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance. The animal design is different from that found on the Gold Lunar coins of the same year though. The 2015 "Year of the Goat" issue depicted a family of goats in a stylized rural setting. The Chinese hanzi character for "goat" is inscribed above the animals and the words “Year of the Goat” appear underneath. The Perth Mint's mint mark P can be seen on the reverse side as well. The 2016 edition was dedicated to the "Year of the Monkey". An adult monkey was depicted on a branch next to a baby monkey that is holding a peach. Peaches are a symbol of longevity and immortality in China. The current 2017 design depicts a rooster, hen and three chicks surrounded by bamboo and flowers. The coins of the 1st Silver Lunar series also depicted the Chinese character for the zodiac animal of that year but no English "Year of the . . . " inscription yet.

History

The Perth Mint started the 1st series of the Australian Silver Lunar coins in 1999 with the "Year of the Rabbit" coins. The silver coins were initially available in denominations of 1 kg, 10 oz, 2 oz, 1 oz and 1/2 oz. In 2004, 1/2 kg and 5 oz silver coins were added. In 2006, 10 kg coins were added to the series as well. From 2008 until 2010, only 1 kg, 2 oz and 1 oz Lunar silver coins of the first series were still minted, parallel to the second Lunar silver series that already started in 2008.

The coins of the 2nd series are available in the same sizes/denominations (10 kg, 1 kg, 1/2 kg, 10 oz, 5 oz, 2 oz, 1 oz and 1/2 oz) as the coins of the 1st series. However, the diameter and thickness of the coins changed in the transition from the 1st to the 2nd series. The 1/2 kg silver coin was last produced in 2010. Until 2016, the coins were minted out of 99.9% fine silver. The 2017 "Year of the Rooster" edition was the first to be produced with the higher silver purity of 99.99%. The second Australian Silver Lunar coin series will come to an end in 2019.

The silver coins of the first series still displayed information about the year of mintage, weight and silver purity on the reverse side of the coins. That information moved to the obverse side on the silver coins that make up the 2nd Silver Lunar series.

Mintages

Mintage numbers of the Australian Silver Lunar coins are much lower than those of other silver bullion coins. That makes them popular with both numismatists and investors. The highest mintage number for any denomination of the coins of the first series was reached in the year 2000 when 118,697 coins of 1 oz were minted and issued. The annual mintage limit that was set for some denominations was never reached during the run of the first series.

The 1 oz coins of the second Silver Lunar series sold out their annual mintage limit of 300,000 coins in every year since their inaugural 2008 issue. The mintage of the other denominations was generally much lower than that. However, the 1/2 oz denomination in the "Year of the Dragon" 2012 holds the mintage record with 389,161 coins.

The Perth Mint published the official mintages for the coins of the first lunar series here. The official mintage numbers of the second Australian Silver Lunar coin series can be found here.

reverse side of the 2017 Year of the Rooster issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz Australian Gold Lunar coin
obverse side of the 2017 Year of the Rooster issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz Australian Gold Lunar coin

Australian Gold Lunar coins

The Perth Mint's 1st Australian Gold Lunar series already started in 1996. Due to the success of the 1st series, a 2nd series followed in 2008 that will eventually end in 2019. The reverse side of the 99.99% pure Australian Lunar gold coins changes every year and always displays the current year's Chinese zodiac animal. Both brilliant uncirculated and proof versions of the coins are offered and there is also a wide choice of different sizes between 1/20 oz and 10 kg. High relief and ultra high relief proof coins as well as colorized versions of the coins are produced as well. Annual mintage numbers of the coins are generally quite low compared with other popular gold bullion coins.

The Australian Gold Lunar coin page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.

Special Australian Silver Lunar Editions and Sets

1 oz high relief proof 2017 Year of the Rooster Australian Silver Lunar coin

High Relief Lunar Coins

Besides 'regular' proof coins, the Perth Mint also issues high relief (HR) proof coins in extremely limited mintages. The raised relief over a sunken background of these HR coins makes the details and beauty of the intricate zodiac animal design stand out even more. The coins are packaged in a special presentation case with a numbered certificate of authenticity.

1 oz gilded brilliant uncirculated 2012 Year of the Dragon Australian Silver Lunar coin

Gilded Silver Lunar Coins

Another special version of the Australian Silver Lunar coins are the gilded (partially gold-plated) coins. The gold-plating of the central zodiac animal design gives these coins a special beauty. The coins are packaged in a red and black presentation case with a numbered certificate of authenticity.

1 oz colorized brilliant uncirculated 2008 Year of the Mouse Australian Silver Lunar coin

Colorized Silver Lunar Coins

The Perth Mint also issues colorized Silver Lunar coins (brilliant uncirculated and proof) that enjoy considerable popularity among collectors. The use of selective coloring on the reverse side of the coins makes the Chinese zodiac animal design stand out in even more beauty. The coins are packaged in a special display case and annual mintage of these coins is limited.

1 kg colorized brilliant uncirculated 2012 Year of the Dragon Australian Silver Lunar coin with a gemstone eye

Colorized Gemstone Eye Coins

Colorized Australian Silver Lunar coins are also available in extremely limited mintages with a gemstone eye. That means that at least one of the eyes of the zodiac animal on the reverse side has an inlaid gemstone. Various gemstones were used throughout the years for example a ruby (colorized Dragon), topaz (tiger), diamond (monkey), emerald (goat) etc.

1999-2010 Australian Silver Lunar Series 1 - 12 x 1 oz set

Australian 1 oz Silver Lunar Set

total silver weight: 12 oz

This set is packaged in a beautiful velvet-lined wooden presentation box. It contains all 12 brilliant uncirculated 1 oz coins from every year of issue of the first series of the Australian Silver Lunar coins (1999-2010). Each individual coin is safely encapsulated.

3 coin Australian Silver Lunar proof Set 2015

3 coin Australian Silver Lunar proof Set

total silver weight: 3.5 oz

Mintage of this annually issued 3 coin proof set is very limited. The three included coins are the 2 oz, 1 oz and 1/2 oz Australian Silver Lunar proof coins. A numbered certificate of authenticity is included with the set which is packaged in a red and black presentation case.

4x1 oz Australian Silver Lunar Set 2016

4 coin Australian Silver Lunar Set

total silver weight: 4 oz

This set includes four different 1 oz Australian Silver Lunar coins from the same year of issue, each with a different finish (brilliant uncirculated, proof, gilded, colorized). Only a very limited number of such sets are issued each year. A numbered certificate of authenticity is included with the set which is packaged in a red and black display case.