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 went from 2008 to 2019 and was followed immediately by the current 3rd series.
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, 2nd and 3rd 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 the 1st, 2nd and 3rd 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).
The specifications of the coins of the current 3rd Australian Lunar series are listed in the table below. Click the button underneath to see the specifications regarding size, face value and issued denominations for the coins of the 1st and 2nd Lunar coin series.
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|10 oz||AUD $ 1,000||99.99%||60.6 x 7.83 mm|
|2 oz||AUD $ 200||99.99%||41.1 x 3.4 mm|
|1 oz||AUD $ 100||99.99%||32.6 x 2.8 mm|
|1/2 oz||AUD $ 50||99.99%||25.6 x 2.19 mm|
|1/4 oz||AUD $ 25||99.99%||20.6 x 2 mm|
|1/10 oz||AUD $ 15||99.99%||16.6 x 1.4 mm|
|1/20 oz||AUD $ 5||99.99%||14.6 x 1 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 its face value, weight and purity information appear along the lower edge. The initial 2020 issue of the current 3rd Perth Mint Gold Lunar Series was the first to use Jody Clark's newer official portrait of an older Queen on the obverse side. Until 2019, the obverse still displayed Ian Rank-Broadley's portrait of a younger Queen. The coins of the 2nd Lunar series also displayed the year of mintage on the obverse side. On the Lunar coins of the 1st series, only her majesty's title, the word "AUSTRALIA" and the coin's face value appeared on the obverse side whereas the year of mintage, weight and purity could be found on the reverse side.
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 current 2021 issue is dedicated to the Chinese Year of the Ox and depicts an ox among bamboo stalks. The animal's name (in English as well as in a large Chinese hanzi character) and the year of mintage can be seen next to the animal's image and the Perth Mint's mint mark P appears near the coin's left edge. Whereas the Chinese character for the zodiac animal of the respective year already appeared on the reverse side of the Lunar coins of the 1st and 2nd series, there was no English name on the coins of the 1st Perth Mint Gold Lunar Series yet. However, the 2nd series always had an English inscription along the reverse side's lower edge that showed to which Chinese zodiac year the coin was dedicated.
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".
The Australian Gold Lunar coins always depict the Chinese zodiac animal for the respective year of issuance, so the 2021 issue is dedicated to the "Year of the Ox", the 2020 issue to the "Year of the Mouse", the 2019 issue to the "Year of the Pig" and the 2018 issue to 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 youthful Queen from 1996 to 1998. Starting in 1999, the coins depicted a more mature Queen and this image was used for the coins of the 2nd Lunar Series as well. Since the start of the current 3rd Lunar Series in 2020, the image of an older Queen can be seen on the obverse side of the coins.
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 continued until 2019. It was then succeeded without interruption by the current 3rd series.
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. A change was then made again for the 3rd series which saw the year of mintage moved back to the reverse side.
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 (43,036 coins). The mintage record for any denomination are the 66,693 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 ended in 2019. The current 3rd series then started the following year. 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.
The Perth Mint issued the first-ever Australian Platinum Lunar coins in 2020, the year when the 3rd Australian Lunar series started. The coins are minted out of 99.95% fine platinum. Only 1 oz coins are minted for now and both brilliant uncirculated as well as proof coins are produced and issued. The design of the reverse side of the coins changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for that year of issuance. The displayed zodiac animal design is identical to the one that appears on the gold version of the coins. The coins of the Perth Mint Platinum Lunar series have a face value of 100 AUD and measure 32.6 mm in diameter and 2.45 mm in thickness. The Perth Mint's mint mark P as well as the initials IJ that represent the designer Ing Ing Jong also appear on the reverse side of the coins.
The Australian Platinum Lunar coin page gives more information about the coins.
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.