British Gold Lunar Coins

gold coin icon United Kingdom flag icon The Shēngxiào Collection - newly issued since 2014 in limited mintages

The British Gold Lunar coins are one of the most recent newly issued gold bullion coins on the market after having been introduced in 2014. The coins show an annually changing image of the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance on their reverse side. The first issue 2014 was dedicated to the Chinese Year of the Horse and the most recent 2022 edition to the Year of the Tiger. The coins are minted by Britain's renowned Royal Mint that also produces the British Gold Sovereign coins, British Gold Britannia coins and Gold Queen's Beasts.

The British Gold Lunar series, also known as the Shēngxiào Collection, is scheduled to end in 2025. At that time, a total of 12 coins representing the 12 Chinese zodiac animals will have been issued. The series is the first ever British legal tender Lunar bullion coin series and British Silver Lunar coins are also available. The British government guarantees the purity and weight of the coins that are eligible to be included in IRA's if you are investing in gold for your retirement. The coins are also exempt from the UK Capital Gains Tax and VAT free.

The British Lunar gold coins are minted out of 99.99% pure gold. Buyers can choose between coins with a brilliant uncirculated finish as well as proof coins. However, the mintage of proof coins is severely limited and even brilliant uncirculated coins are minted in relatively low numbers compared to most other gold bullion coins. Investors can buy gold coins of this special series in five different denominations between 1/10 oz and 1 kg. The two largest denominations of 5 oz and 1 kg only exist as proof coins though. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting anticipated lower demand, only proof coins were issued for 2021 and 2022.

reverse side of the 2020 Year of the Rat issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz Shēngxiào Collection Lunar gold coin
obverse side of the 2020 Year of the Rat issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz British Gold Lunar coins
1 oz BU British Gold Lunar 2020

Coin Specifications

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter x Thickness
1 kg £ 1,000 99.9% 100 x ?? mm
5 oz £ 500 99.99% 50 x ?? mm
1 oz £ 100 99.99% 32.69 x 2.7 mm
1/4 oz £ 25 99.99% 22 x 1.2 mm
1/10 oz £ 10 99.99% 16.5 x 1.2 mm

British Lunar Gold Coin Designs

Design of the Gold Lunar Coins

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. Her majesty's title, the Latin abbreviation of "Reg Fid Def" and the official face value of the coin surround the central image on the obverse side.

The design of the reverse side of the Gold Lunar coins changes every year and always depicts the Chinese zodiac animal for the corresponding year of issuance. The current 2022 "Year of the Tiger" edition of the coins depicts a prowling tiger on the reverse side and the preceding 2021 "Year of the Ox" edition a grazing ox. The 2020 "Year of the Rat" edition of the coins displays a crouching rat that seems to be sniffing the scent of nearby flowers. The 2019 coins that celebrated the "Year of the Pig" depict a night scene at the countryside with a mother pig that is nursing her piglets in the foreground. The 2018 "Year of the Dog" edition shows a playful terrier on the reverse in front of a textured background (representing an imprint of the dog's nose). In 2017, a Marsh Daisy Rooster was displayed on the coin amidst ten marsh daisy (a.k.a. sea-thrift) flowers. The choice of ten marsh daisy flowers on these "Year of the Rooster" coins was done on purpose as the rooster is the tenth animal in the Chinese zodiac.

The British Lunar coins were first issued 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-meter-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 reverse of each British Lunar gold coin. The coin's weight, purity and year of issuance is inscribed as well. However, the gold weight and purity only appears on the reverse of the brilliant uncirculated version of the coins and not on proof coins.

History of the British Gold Lunar Series

The Royal Mint launched the British Shēngxiào 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", the 2016 edition the "Year of the Monkey", the 2017 edition the "Year of the Rooster", the 2018 edition the "Year of the Dog", the 2019 edition the "Year of the Pig", the 2020 edition the "Year of the Rat", the 2021 edition the "Year of the Ox" and the 2022 edition the "Year of the Tiger".

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. The 2018 coins introduced a new guilloché background design on the obverse side. 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 respected British artists, the latest 2022 coins by David Lawrence, the 2021 and 2019 coins by the wood engraver Harry Brockway, the 2020 coins by P.J. Lynch, and the 2014 - 2018 coins by the British-Chinese artist and printmaker Wuon-Gean Ho.

Mintage Numbers

Compared with other gold bullion coins, mintage of the Royal Mint Lunar coins is quite limited and has gone down substantially after the inaugural release. The 1 oz denomination is by far the most common. The bullion version of the 1/4 oz Lunar coins was only minted in 2015 and 5 oz and 1 kg coins are only minted as proof coins. Mintage of the brilliant uncirculated 1/10 oz gold coin ended in 2019. Brilliant uncirculated 1 oz coins were last minted in 2020. For the Year of the Tiger 2022, the Royal Mint produced one single 8 kilo gold proof coin which might be the world's first gold coin of such an unusual denomination.

The frequent appearance of the number 8 in the annual mintage numbers is not a coincidence. In China, the number 8 represents prosperity.

reverse side of the 2020 Year of the Rat issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz silver coins of the Shēngxiào Collection
obverse side of the 2020 Year of the Rat issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz British Silver Lunar coins

British Silver Lunar Coins

This gold and silver coin series that is known as the Shēngxiào Collection started in 2014 and is scheduled to end in 2025. The silver version of the coins is struck out of 99.9% fine silver. The reverse side of the coins changes each year, always depicting the Chinese zodiac animal for that year of issuance. The same depicted design also appears on that year's gold version of the coins. The Royal Mint currently issues the coins in the three denominations of 1 oz (both brilliant uncirculated and proof coins), 5 oz (only proof coins) and 1 kg (only proof coins). A gilded version of the coins also exist. Annual mintage numbers of the British Silver Lunar coins far exceed those of the gold version.

The British Silver Lunar page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.