Precious Metals

Latest Royal Mint Lunar bullion issues now available

The Royal Mint’s annual Lunar bullion program continues with 2017 coins marking the Year of the Rooster.

It is the fourth group to be issued in the Royal Mint’s Lunar series, which started with the 2014 Year of the Horse coins, followed by the Year of the Sheep in 2015 and Year of the Monkey coins in 2016.

The Royal Mint is now offering collector versions of the Year of the Rooster coin. The bullion versions will be released later (the Royal Mint has not announced when they are due for release to the bullion market). 

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Three 2017 Proof .999 fine silver coins are joined by four gold coins in various finenesses and finishes for the program, which is named the Shengxiào Collection to honor the Chinese zodiac.

The collection offers Proof 1-ounce, 5-ounce and kilogram sizes, both in silver and in gold, and a Brilliant Uncirculated tenth-ounce gold coin. 

The gold kilo coin is struck from .999 fine gold, while .9999 fine gold is used for the three other gold coins.

The Shengxiào Collection “is a celebration of the UK’s diverse multi-cultural society, and lends a unique British angle to this ancient custom,” according to the Royal Mint. 

2017 design inspiration

British-Chinese artist and printmaker Wuon-Gean Ho, designer of the Royal Mint’s Lunar collection, incorporated clever wordplay into her 2017 design — a British breed marsh daisy rooster is pictured alongside 10 blooms of the plant of the same name, which is often known by the familiar name of Sea-thrift. The word “thrift” can also refer to wise use of money.

“Sea-thrift is common to the areas where these birds live,” she said, in a press release. “Ten is a number that stands for perfection in Chinese culture so the ten blossoms represent this, as well as fortune, wealth and prosperity.” 

Royal Mint silver Britannia bullion   The Royal Mint just recorded its highest annual revenue total in its 1,100-year history: "Significant growth in the precious metal trading activities of the company’s Bullion division made a major contribution to this outcom," the Royal Mint reported.

Each lunar year is linked to one of 12 animals, whose traits are attributed to those born during that year. Celebrated annually — Year of the Rooster starts Jan. 28, 2017 — it is traditionally a time for exchanging tokens and gifts of money in red envelopes, symbolizing good wishes for the recipient’s health, wealth and prosperity. 

The rooster is the 10th sign in the Chinese zodiac, so it may be no coincidence that number 10 represents perfection in Chinese culture — people born in the Year of the Rooster are believed to be confident characters who love to stand out from the crowd, according to the Royal Mint.

“Said to spend a great deal of time perfecting their appearance, they like to be thought of as attractive and beautiful, and are often very fashion conscious, relishing any opportunity to show off their style and charm,” the Royal Mint said. “They are loyal and devoted friends and natural leaders in the workplace.”

The coins are supplied in red packaging, together with a booklet that reveals the customs that inspired the artist. All coins in the range have limited mintiages, with limits including the number 8, thought to be a lucky digit in Chinese culture. 

During her research process Wuon-Gean made detailed observations of roosters and hens to capture a real sense of their personality and movement. 

The marsh daisy is from the Lancashire/Liverpool area of the United Kingdom. 

“I wanted to root the design firmly in a real place,” said Wuon-Gean. “The Marsh Daisy is a gentle and friendly breed, well-adapted to sandy marshland. They are beautiful birds with a very flat, pillow-like comb called a rose-comb.”

About the artist

Wuon-Gean Ho is an artist printmaker living and working in London. Her commissions for the Royal Mint draw upon her British Chinese descent, and her experiences both as an artist and fully qualified veterinary surgeon. 

“Working with and observing animals definitely helped me with my understanding of how to draw them, and how to convey their movement,” she said, in a press release. “It was a new concept for me to work within the coin’s circle, and also work around lettering that was curved. It has been wonderful working with the craftsmen at the Royal Mint. I’m incredibly impressed and humbled at the amount of technical mastery and knowledge that they have.”

Full specifications of the program are available at the Royal Mint’s website.

The obverses of all the Lunar 2017 coins depict the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

Mintage limits and pricing for the collector coins are as follows:

  • BU 10th-ounce gold £10 coin: mintage limit 2,088 pieces, price £205.
  • 1-ounce silver £2 coin: mintage limit 3,888 pieces, price £85.
  • 1-ounce gold £100 coin: mintage limit 688 pieces, price £1,795.
  • 5-ounce silver £10 coin: mintage limit 388 pieces, price £415.
  • 5-ounce gold £500 coin: mintage limit 38 pieces, price £8,250.
  • Silver kilo £500 coin: mintage limit 68 pieces, price £2,050 each.
  • Gold kilo £1,000 coin: mintage limit eight coins, price £49,995. 

For more information or to order these coins, visit the Royal Mint website

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