Chinese Lunar Silver Coins

Author: Focus on the User | 7 min read
Chinese Lunar Silver Coin

Chinese Lunar Silver Coins are a distinct series of coins issued by the People's Republic of China, beginning in 1981. Each coin is composed of 99.9% pure silver, a testament to their quality and desirability. The uniqueness of these coins lies in their annually changing designs, which are based on the Chinese Zodiac. This aspect not only makes each year's issue unique in terms of imagery and theme but also ties them closely to Chinese culture. The coins are available in various denominations, with the most common being the 1 oz variant, carrying a face value of 10 Yuan. This feature underlines their status as legal tender.

History of the Silver Chinese Lunar

The history of Chinese Lunar Silver Coins is marked by their unique design and their reflection of Chinese culture and traditions.

Design and Appearance

Each coin in this series features a zodiac animal corresponding to the year of issue according to the Chinese lunar calendar. For instance, the 2020 Rat coin showcased intricate engravings of a rat along with traditional Chinese symbols. The obverse side of these coins typically portrays the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a significant part of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, emphasizing their cultural heritage.


The Chinese Lunar Silver Coins are struck in 99.9% pure silver, ensuring their high quality. Their weights vary, with standard options ranging from the light 1/20 oz (1.555 grams) to the substantial 1 kg (1000 grams). Dimensions of these coins also vary accordingly; for example, the 1 oz coin has a diameter of 40 mm and a thickness of 2.98 mm, making it a substantial yet manageable size for collectors and investors alike.

Top 3 Ways to Invest in Chinese Lunar Silver Coins

Investing in Chinese Lunar Silver Coins can be approached in several ways, each offering different benefits and considerations. These methods cater to different types of investors, from those seeking direct purchase from mints to those interested in the secondary market or looking to diversify their retirement portfolios.

1. Purchase Silver Chinese Lunars Directly

Direct purchase is a straightforward method to acquire Chinese Lunar Silver Coins. Coins can be bought from official sources like the China Gold Coin Corporation, which offers them at release prices. These prices typically start from around $30 for a 1 oz coin, subject to fluctuations in the silver market. Direct purchasing not only ensures the authenticity of the coins but also provides access to a comprehensive range of weights, from the diminutive 1/20 oz to the hefty 1 kg coins, catering to different investment scales.

2. Purchase From Collectors

Buying Chinese Lunar Silver Coins from collectors presents an opportunity to acquire pieces with historical and sentimental value. For example, coins like the 1981 Rabbit coin, being older and rarer, may command prices well over $300. However, purchasing from the secondary market requires vigilance, particularly in verifying the authenticity of the coins. Collectors should look for coins with certificates of authenticity and those that have retained their original packaging to ensure their value.

3. Diversify With IRA-Approved Silver Instead

Investing in IRA-approved silver coins, which include certain types of Chinese Lunar Silver Coins, offers a way to diversify retirement portfolios. These coins must meet specific fineness requirements, such as having a silver purity of .999. Opting for IRA-approved coins like the 1 oz silver variants provides a balance between investing in precious metals and planning for future financial security.

Find Out How to Invest Silver Coins in Your IRA

Silver Chinese Lunar Types

The Chinese Lunar Silver Coin series encompasses a variety of types, each catering to different preferences of collectors and investors. These types range from bullion coins to more specialized versions like colorized and gilded coins.

Silver Chinese Lunar Bullion Coins

Bullion coins, designed primarily for investment purposes, are produced in larger quantities. The standard 1 oz bullion coin, for instance, has a diameter of 40 mm and a thickness of 2.98 mm. These coins typically feature a more matte finish as compared to their proof counterparts and are valued mainly for their metal content.

Silver Chinese Lunar Proof Coins

Proof coins are known for their exceptional finish, exhibiting a mirror-like background and a frosted design. Limited mintages, like the 8,000 coins produced for the 2019 Pig proof coin, enhance their collectibility. The high-quality finish and limited availability make these coins particularly desirable for lunar collector coins enthusiasts.

Silver Chinese Lunar Colorized Coins

Colorized coins add a vibrant dimension to the series. An example is the 2014 Horse coin, where selective color applications bring the horse to life against a silver background. The process of colorization, which involves applying ink directly to the coin’s surface, renders each piece unique.

Silver Chinese Lunar Privy Marked Coins

Privy marked coins are distinguished by a small, unique mark on the reverse. For instance, the 2017 Rooster coin features a miniature rooster as its privy mark. These marks often commemorate special events or anniversaries, adding an additional layer of interest and collectibility.

Silver Chinese Lunar Gilded Coins

Gilded coins are adorned with a thin layer of gold, accentuating parts of the design. The 2015 Goat coin, for example, features gold-plated goat motifs. The gilding, typically done in 24 karat gold, creates a striking contrast between the silver and gold elements on the coin.

Silver Chinese Lunar Fan-Shaped Coins

Fan-shaped coins offer a departure from the traditional round format. A notable example is the 2010 Tiger coin, measuring approximately 70 mm at its widest. The unique shape and detailed engravings of these coins make them highly sought after in the collector market.

Silver Chinese Lunar Rectangle Coins

Rectangle coins, such as the 2018 Dog coin, offer a distinctive canvas for intricate designs, measuring around 47.60 x 27.60 mm. Their unconventional shape appeals particularly to collectors looking for diversity in their coin collections.

Silver Chinese Lunar Series I

Series I of the Chinese Lunar Silver Coins, which ran from 1981 to 1992, included coins for each Chinese zodiac animal, starting with the inaugural 1981 Year of the Rooster coin. These early coins are now considered rare, particularly in uncirculated conditions, and command significant value in the collector's market.

Silver Chinese Lunar Series II

Series II, spanning from 1993 to 2004, continued the tradition of featuring the zodiac animals but with updated designs. For instance, the 1993 Rooster coin presented a different portrayal from its Series I counterpart. Although more accessible in the market than Series I, Series II coins still hold considerable value due to their limited mintage and distinctive designs.

Silver Chinese Lunar Weight Variations

The Chinese Lunar Silver Coin series offers a wide range of weight variations, catering to different preferences and investment strategies. Each weight offers a unique combination of affordability, design detail, and collectibility.

1/20 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 1/20 oz coin, with a diameter of approximately 14.60 mm, is the smallest in the series. It provides an accessible entry point for collectors, although these smaller coins often carry a higher premium over the spot price of silver compared to larger variants.

1/10 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 1/10 oz coin, measuring about 18.10 mm in diameter, balances affordability with detail in design. This size is popular among collectors who appreciate a diverse range of sizes in their coin portfolios.

1/4 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 1/4 oz coin, typically around 22 mm in diameter, allows for more detailed designs thanks to its larger surface area. This size is a mid-range option, appealing for both its collectibility and investment potential.

1/2 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 1/2 oz coin, approximately 33 mm in diameter, provides a larger canvas for intricate designs, making it a preferred choice for many collectors. It offers significant investment value while remaining relatively affordable.

1 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 1 oz coin is the most popular and standard size, with a diameter of about 40 mm and a thickness of 2.98 mm. This size is often the most actively traded, offering a balance of affordability and potential for appreciation in value.

2 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 2 oz coin, larger at about 55 mm in diameter, allows for even more detailed and expressive designs. Its size and limited mintage make it more desirable for collectors seeking unique and distinctive pieces.

5 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 5 oz coin, measuring around 65 mm in diameter, is known for its impressive design and limited production. It's sought after by serious collectors for its rarity and the larger, more detailed engravings it features.

10 oz Silver Chinese Lunar

The 10 oz coin provides a grand display of artistry with a considerable diameter of around 85 mm. It is highly valued in the collector's market due to its rarity and the high level of craftsmanship involved.

1 kg Silver Chinese Lunar

The 1 kg coin is a centerpiece in any collection, measuring about 100 mm in diameter and showcasing the highest level of detail and artistry. As a premium investment and collector's item, it often fetches high prices in the market due to its size and limited availability.

Investing in Silver Chinese Lunar Coins

Investing in Chinese Lunar Silver Coins involves considering various factors such as collectibility, market demand, historical performance, and the quality of craftsmanship.

Collectibility and Rarity

The collectibility and rarity of these coins are influenced by factors such as annual design changes, limited mintage numbers (e.g., less than 10,000 for certain proof versions), and special editions including privy marked or gilded coins. The older coins from Series I are particularly rare due to their age and limited availability, making them highly valuable among collectors.

Market Demand Trends

Market demand for these coins is affected by global silver prices, collector interest in specific zodiac designs, and the Chinese economy's impact on precious metals. Certain years, like the 2000 Dragon, have witnessed increased demand and value, owing to their popularity in Chinese culture.

Historical Performance

The Chinese Lunar Silver Coin series has shown a consistent appreciation in value over time. Early editions from the 1980s and 1990s, for example, have seen significant increases in value, with some like the 1989 Snake coin appreciating by over 200% in the past two decades. Proof and limited edition coins typically exhibit higher appreciation rates due to their rarity and collectibility.

Quality and Craftsmanship

These coins are renowned for their high-quality minting, detailed engravings, and the use of advanced techniques such as colorization and gilding. The craftsmanship, overseen by the official minting body of the People's Republic of China, ensures a consistently high standard, adding to their desirability among collectors and investors.

Other Chinese Coins

Apart from the Chinese Lunar Silver Coins, other notable coin series from China have garnered significant interest among collectors and investors, each with their unique features and appeal.

Chinese Gold Panda

The Chinese Gold Panda series, first issued in 1982, is composed of 99.9% gold. Available in a range of sizes from 1 gram to 1 kg, these coins feature an annually changing design, similar to the Lunar series. For instance, the 2020 issue depicts a mother panda with her cub, contributing to each year’s uniqueness and collectability. The series is popular among those who appreciate the intrinsic value of gold and the artistic merit of the designs.

Chinese Silver Panda

Introduced in 1983, the Silver Panda coins are minted in 99.9% pure silver. While predominantly available in a 30 grams size, they were historically also minted in the 1 oz format. Like their gold counterparts, these coins feature an annual design change, exemplified by the 2020 design showcasing a panda holding a cub. Their unique designs and high purity make them a favorite among collectors.

Chinese Platinum Panda

The Platinum Panda series is a less common but highly sought-after collection. Containing 99.95% platinum, these coins are available in various weights, including 1/10 oz and 1 oz sizes. With limited mintage and unique designs, such as the 1990 issue featuring the Temple of Heaven, Platinum Pandas are particularly appealing to collectors and investors looking for rare and valuable coins. The series stands out for its use of platinum, a precious metal that adds a distinctive aspect to any collection.

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Disclaimer: Content on this website is not intended to be used as financial advice. It is not to be used as a recommendation to buy, sell, or trade an asset that requires a licensed broker. Consult a financial advisor.

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