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. The Perth Mint started the 1st series in 1999 with the "Year of the Rabbit". Another very unusual characteristic of the silver version of the Australian Lunar coins is that the 2nd Australian Silver Lunar series started (in 2008) while the 1st series was still ongoing (until 2010). The 2nd series of the Australian Lunar silver coins ended in 2019 with the "Year of the Pig" coins. The current 3rd series of the Silver Lunar coins then started in 2020 with the "Year of the Mouse" coins.
The coins that are also known as the Perth Mint 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, 2nd and 3rd Australian Lunar series though. When you buy silver in the form of these coins you have many options to choose from. These are not limited to the choice between brilliant uncirculated and proof coins but also include high-relief proof coins, coins with special privy marks, gilded coins (BU and proof), coins with an antiqued finish, colorized coins (BU and proof) and even colorized coins where the zodiac animals have special gemstone eyes.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Perth Mint 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. American buyers that are investing in silver 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 kg||AUD $ 300||99.99%||?? x ?? mm|
|1 kg||AUD $ 30||99.99%||100.6 x 16.8 mm|
|5 oz||AUD $ 5||99.99%||60.6 x 7.2 mm|
|2 oz||AUD $ 2||99.99%||50.6 x 4.13 mm|
|1 oz||AUD $ 1||99.99%||40.6 x 3.21 mm|
|1/2 oz||AUD $ 0.5||99.99%||32.6 x 2.6 mm|
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 face value, weight and purity information appear along the lower edge on the coins of the 3rd Lunar series. The year of mintage appeared at that spot as well on the coins of the 2nd Lunar series (the coins of the 3rd series now show the year of mintage on the reverse side). The Lunar coins of the 1st series only displayed the coin's face value along the lower edge on the obverse side of the coins. The year of mintage, weight and purity info appeared on the reverse side of the coins of the 1st series.
The design of the reverse side of the Perth Mint 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 current 2022 issue is dedicated to the Chinese Year of the Tiger and depicts a tiger cub following its mother across rocky terrain between ferns and tall bamboo grass. 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 image and the Perth Mint's mint mark P appears near the coin's left edge.
There are some noteworthy differences regarding the appearance of the Chinese and English name of the respective zodiac animal on the reverse side of the coins of the 1st, 2nd and current 3rd Lunar series. The coins of the 1st Silver Lunar series only depicted the Chinese character for the zodiac animal of that year on the reverse side. The coins of the 2nd series then added an English "Year of the . . . " dedication which always appeared underneath the animal image. On the coins of the current 3rd series, the English and Chinese name of the zodiac animal can be seen on the reverse but the words "Year of the" no longer appear.
The silver coins of the 1st 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. For the 3rd series, the year of mintage was moved back to the reverse side of the coins.
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. A heavy 10 kg version of the Australian Silver Lunar coin was added to the series in 2006. From 2008 until 2010, only the 1 kg, 2 oz and 1 oz Lunar coins of the 1st series were still minted, parallel to the 2nd Silver Lunar 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 and 10 oz Silver Lunar coins were respectively last produced in 2010 and 2019. 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 2nd Australian Silver Lunar coin series ended in 2019.
The current 3rd Australian Silver Lunar coin series started in 2020 and the diameter and thickness of the coins changed once more in that transition. Coins are now minted in the denominations of 10 kg, 1 kg, 5 oz, 2 oz, 1 oz and 1/2 oz.
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 1st 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 1st series.
The 1 oz coins of the 2nd 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 Australian Lunar silver coin in the "Year of the Dragon" 2012 holds the mintage record with 389,161 coins. Annual mintage numbers of the 10 kg coin are also limited (currently to 100 coins per year) and the mintage limit was reached in most years.
The Perth Mint published the official mintage numbers for the coins of the 1st Lunar series here. The official mintage numbers of the 2nd Australian Silver Lunar coin series can be found here. Finally, the Perth Mint published the mintage numbers for the first two years of the current 3rd Australian Silver Lunar coin series here.
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 from 2008 to 2019 and the current 3rd series started in 2020. The reverse side of the 99.99% pure Australian Gold Lunar coins changes every year and always displays the current year's Chinese zodiac animal. The coins are also known as the Perth Mint Lunar gold coins. 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.
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. Annual mintage numbers of both brilliant uncirculated as well as proof coins are subject to strict mintage limits. 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 Australian Platinum Lunar coin page gives more information about the coins.
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 1st series of the Australian Silver Lunar coins (1999 - 2010). Each individual coin is safely encapsulated.
total silver weight: 3.5 oz
Mintage of this annually issued 3-coin proof set is very limited (currently to 1,000 sets per year). The three included coins are the 2 oz, 1 oz and 1/2 oz Australian Silver Lunar proof coins. The 2 oz proof coin is only available as a part of this set but the 1/2 oz (issue limit: 4,000) and 1 oz coins (issue limit: 5,000) are also available individually. A numbered certificate of authenticity is included with the set which is packaged in a red and black presentation case.
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.