Investors who prefer to buy gold coins with annually changing designs nowadays have a lot more options then just a few years ago. The Australian Gold Lunar coins are one of these options that are gaining popularity. Their reverse design changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance.
The first Australian Lunar coins were issued in 1996. Already back then, each annual edition of the coins displayed the current year's Chinese zodiac animal on their reverse. The 1st Australian Lunar Series ended in the "Year of the Pig" in 2007. Due to the immense popularity of the coins, the Perth Mint decided to continue the 12-year-cycle of zodiac animals that appear on the reverse with a 2nd Australian Gold Lunar Series. This 2nd series started in 2008 and will end in 2019.
All Australian Lunar gold coins are minted out of 99.99% pure gold. The coins are offered in many different denominations from 1/20 oz up to 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. High relief and ultra high relief proof coins as well as colorized versions of the coins are produced as well.
The Gold Lunar coins of both the 1st and 2nd series have the status of legal tender in Australia. Annual mintage numbers of the coins are generally quite low compared with other popular gold bullion coins. American consumers that are investing in gold for their retirements can include the coins in their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's).
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|10 kg||AUD $ 30,000||99.99%||180.6 x 25 mm|
|1 kg||AUD $ 3,000||99.99%||100.6 x 9 mm|
|10 oz||AUD $ 1,000||99.99%||75.6 x 6 mm|
|2 oz||AUD $ 200||99.99%||41.1 x 3.9 mm|
|1 oz||AUD $ 100||99.99%||39.34 x 2.5 mm|
|1/2 oz||AUD $ 50||99.99%||30.6 x 2.5 mm|
|1/4 oz||AUD $ 25||99.99%||22.6 x 2.2 mm|
|1/10 oz||AUD $ 15||99.99%||18.6 x 2 mm|
|1/20 oz||AUD $ 5||99.99%||14.8 x 1.4 mm|
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|10 kg||AUD $ 30,000||99.99%||180 x ?? mm|
|1 kg||AUD $ 3,000||99.99%||75.6 x 13.9 mm|
|10 oz||AUD $ 1,000||99.99%||60.3 x 8 mm|
|2 oz||AUD $ 200||99.99%||40.6 x 3.9 mm|
|1 oz||AUD $ 100||99.99%||32.1 x 2.8 mm|
|1/2 oz||AUD $ 50||99.99%||25.1 x 2 mm|
|1/4 oz||AUD $ 25||99.99%||20.1 x 2 mm|
|1/10 oz||AUD $ 15||99.99%||16.1 x 1.5 mm|
|1/20 oz||AUD $ 5||99.99%||14.1 x 1.4 mm|
The British monarch Queen Elizabeth II is shown in profile wearing a royal tiara on the obverse side of each Australian Gold Lunar coin. The depiction of her majesty is meant to symbolize Australia’s allegiance to the crown and the British Commonwealth. Her majesty's title and the country’s name are engraved along the upper left and right edge of the coin and the year of mintage, face value, weight and purity information appear along the lower edge. The Lunar coins of the 1st series had the year of mintage, weight and purity engraved on the reverse side though.
The reverse design of the Australian Lunar gold coin changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance. The 2015 "Year of the Goat" issue depicts a lone goat standing atop rocky terrain. The 2016 edition is dedicated to the "Year of the Monkey". The coins depict a monkey that is sitting on a peach tree branch. In China, peaches represent longevity and immortality. The 2017 design depicts a rooster standing on one leg between leafy bamboo plants and the 2018 coin shows a Labrador Retriever standing on some rocks with a stylized pine tree in the background. The final 2019 edition of the coins depicts a domestic pig with its snout raised into the air. A blooming tree branch can be seen above the pig and some rocks and grass appear in the background. The inscription "Year of the Pig" can be seen underneath the animal image and the Perth Mint's mint mark P appears to the right of the pig's snout. The Chinese hanzi character for that year's zodiac animal is always inscribed on the reverse as well. There was no English "Year of the . . . " inscription on the coins of the 1st Perth Mint Gold Lunar Series yet.
Production of the Perth Mint Lunar coins started in 1996 with the "Year of the Mouse" coins. At first, only 1 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz and 1/20 oz coins were produced. The 1 kg, 10 oz and 2 oz coins were first produced in the year 2000 for the "Year of the Dragon". The 1/2 oz coin was added in 2004 for the "Year of the Monkey". Finally, a 10 kg version of the Perth Mint Lunar gold coins was added to the lineup in 2006 for the "Year of the Dog".
Whereas the reverse side depicts the Chinese zodiac sign for the respective year, the obverse shows an image of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Each Gold Lunar coin still showed the image of a younger Queen from 1996 to 1998. Since 1999, the coins depict a more mature Queen and this image is used in the 2nd Lunar Series as well.
The 1st lunar coin series ended in 2007 with the "Year of the Pig" coins. Since this 1st series was immensely popular with investors and collectors alike, a 2nd Lunar Series was launched in 2008 and will end in 2019. The Australian Gold Lunar coins depict the Chinese zodiac animal for the respective year of issuance, so the 2019 issue is dedicated to the "Year of the Pig" and the 2018 issue to the "Year of the Dog".
The gold coins of the 1st Lunar Series displayed information about the year of mintage, weight and gold purity on the reverse side of the coins. That information was shifted to the obverse side on the gold coins that make up the 2nd Australian Gold Lunar Series.
Mintage numbers of the Australian Gold Lunar coins are comparatively lower than those of other gold bullion coins. That makes them popular with both numismatists and investors. The years 2000 until 2002 saw the highest mintage for 1 oz Gold Lunar coins of the 1st series. The mintage limit of 30,000 for 1 oz coins was reached in each of those years.
For the 1 oz coins of the 2nd Gold Lunar Series, the limit of 30,000 coins was reached in every year since 2008. The mintage of fractional denominations was generally much lower than that. However, the 1/10 oz denomination exceeded the 30,000 mark in the years 2012 (33,059 coins), 2014 (34,181 coins) and 2015 (33,027 coins). The mintage record for any denomination are the 58,890 coins of 1/20 oz that were sold in 2015.
The Perth Mint started with the 1st series of the Australian Silver Lunar coins in 1999. The 2nd series followed in 2008 (while the 1st series was still ongoing) and is scheduled to end in 2019. The silver coins are 99.99% pure since 2017 (99.9% pure previously). The design of the reverse side of the Perth Mint Lunar silver coins changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for that year of issuance. The displayed zodiac animal design is different from that on the gold version of the coins. Many different special editions are offered in addition to the brilliant uncirculated and proof versions and there is also a wide choice of different sizes between 1/2 oz and 10 kg.
The Australian Silver Lunar coin page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.
Besides 'regular' proof coins, high relief (HR) and ultra high relief (UHR) proof coins are issued in extremely limited mintages. Depending on the design of the zodiac animal, some years 'only' allow the production of high relief coins whereas other animal designs make it possible to even produce ultra high relief proof coins. The raised relief over a sunken background of these HR and UHR coins makes the details and beauty of the intricate zodiac animal design stand out even more.
The Perth Mint also issues colorized Gold 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.
total gold weight: 12 oz (1 oz coins), 3 oz (1/4 oz), 1.2 oz (1/10 oz), 0.6 oz (1/20 oz)
These sets exist for both brilliant uncirculated as well as proof coins for the 4 different denominations (1 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20 oz) that were minted continuously during the 12 years of the 1st Australian Gold Lunar Series (1996-2007).
total gold weight: 1.35 oz
The Perth Mint issues this 3 coin proof set annually. The mintage limit was lowered in recent years from 3,000 to 1,500 sets. It includes the 1 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz proof coins as well as a certificate of authenticity. The coins are stored in a beautiful oval display case which is shipped in an illustrated box.