Australian Lunar Silver Coins – Coming Soon

Posted on December 23, 2021

By Paul Vanguard, for BullionMax.com

It's always nice to add some spice to your silver bullion stack. Our customers have had the foresight to load up on American eagle gold and silver coins during a time of unprecedented economic and worldwide uncertainty. We adore eagles, whether they're bullion, proof or uncirculated, partially because they sport some of the sharpest designs and finest production quality available. Or, as my daughter said the first time she saw my stash of gold eagles, "Wow, that's what real money looks like!"

Eagles are great, but they're not without competition. Every national mint has its own flagship coin, the one that sets the standard. Every other coin they mint has to live up to the same impeccable standards.

That's one reason we're excited about this new series of coins…

Perth Mint's silver lunar coin series

Coins with an exotic flavor aren't always a sure bet, but the Perth Mint's silver Lunar series is an exception. Perth Mint started the program featuring gold, silver and platinum coins all the way back in 1996, when an ounce of gold would've cost you only $387 and change and an ounce of platinum about $10 more. (Anyone have a time machine?)

Perth Mint had a winner on their hands. Consistently high demand probably shocked the Australians at first. Based on the variety and quality of the designs, collectors clamor for lunar coins. Perth Mint is now issuing its third series.

So what's all the fuss about?

Silver lunar coins explained

The concept is straightforward: The Chinese zodiac is represented by 12 animals, just like on the placemat at the Jiayuan Dumpling House down the road. Your birth year determines your sign.

Chinese zodiac

Although I'm tempted to start with the tiger (I'm a tiger), it's more proper to start at the beginning. From about the 9 o'clock position proceeding clockwise, the 12 signs are:

  1. Rat (or mouse; oddly the Chinese word shǔ or 鼠 doesn't differentiate between the two)
  2. Ox
  3. Tiger
  4. Rabbit
  5. Dragon
  6. Snake
  7. Horse
  8. Goat
  9. Monkey
  10. Rooster
  11. Dog
  12. Pig

1996 was a year of the rat, so the first coin in Perth Mint's lunar series was a 1996 golden rat. Although you might guess that the rat would be the least auspicious of the dozen animals to begin with, Perth Mint found it had a winner on its hands.

Since then, Perth Mint has released an annual lunar coin every year featuring its symbolic animal. Lunar coins were limited to gold at first, in a variety of weights ranging from the miniscule 1/20 oz all the way up to some truly massive 10 oz gold monsters.

What do you do with a success story like this one? Well, you iterate, and you keep it going!

The Australian lunar coins by series

Perth Mint rounded out the twelve symbolic animals of the Chinese zodiac in 2007. The coins were so popular they couldn't just stop. They also made the excellent decision to add a new dimension to collectability. Instead of going back to the old designs and reminting a 2008 Year of the Rat, they updated the designs on the reverse.

The original series is now called Series I (1996-2007). We have Series II (2008-2019) and the beginning of Series III.

At first, lunar coins were gold only. It didn't take long for Perth Mint to realize there was equal demand among silver stackers. Series I offered a number of silver coins: rabbits in 1999, dragons in 2000, snakes in 2001, horses in 2002, goats in 2003, monkeys in 2004, roosters in 2005, dogs in 2006 and pigs in 2007.

Silver coins have been included in other annual mintings since 1999.

The lunar coins series has evolved over time. A few things are unchanged throughout the decades, while others have seen significant modifications.

All of the coins have had a minimum of 99.9% purity since the start.

Each bullion coin had a mintage limit of 300,000 to 500,000, with collectors' varieties being issued in much smaller numbers. ("Collectors' varieties" here meaning silver coins with gold detailing, colorized coins, proofs, antiqued finish, high relief and similar modifications.)

And while there has been a fair bit of experimentation regarding coin weight, Perth Mint has mostly settled on 1, 1.5 and 2 oz silver coins since 2008. Although 5 oz and supermassive 1 kg (32.15 troy oz) silver coins are sometimes minted along with the more ahem reasonable sizes.

Now, here's why these coins are awesome.

What makes Australian lunar coins so great?

Well, a few things…

Barring a few exceptions, the designs for the coins change in each series. That means that you could have all three different rabbit designs in your collection, and that's limiting the conversation to bullion. When we consider proof coins, let alone all the other modified varieties, interest and demand gets even more intense. Trust me, it's enough to make a completist drool.

They make great gifts. They're a fantastic way of celebrating a birth, a graduation, an anniversary -- basically, whatever happens that year. (Plus because they vary designs it's possible you could give exactly the same gift every year, so if they LOVE it the first time, you're set for life!!)

Full disclosure: we're super-psyched to offer Perth Mint's silver lunar coins here at BullionMax. We'll list them on the website as soon as we get 'em off the truck and finish staring lovingly at them.

P.S. Stay tuned for another even more exciting announcement about new products.


Paul Vanguard is a lifelong precious metals enthusiast and a proud member of the BullionMax team.