World Coins: Chinese Lunar Coins — 2012 The Year of the Dragon

Posted by Jay Turner, NGC Grader on 1/18/2012

Coins commemorating The Year of the Dragon are sure to be a popular issue with collectors.

On January 23, 2012, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated as the Year of the Dragon. The lunar zodiac is celebrated in many countries including Asia. Numerous countries issue commemorative coins featuring the zodiac animals and the Year of the Dragon will certainly be one of the most popular.

There are many mythologies and religious ideologies behind the origins of the Chinese Zodiac. The earliest record stems from circa 2600 BCE when Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first recorded lunar cycle. Some believe the idea came from Buddhism. It is said that Buddha summoned all of the animals on earth before his departure. Only 12 animals came to greet him, so he named a year after each one. There are also many stories that explain how the animals were chosen, their sequence and their relationships with each other.

The zodiac animal assigned by the year
an individual is born is believed to
influence their personality. Character traits for those born in the Year of the Dragon include strong, vigorous, proud, noble and intellectual as well as arrogant, demanding, violent and brash.

While zodiac symbols were used in the past to date coins, the first official commemorative for the Chinese zodiac
was the 1976 Hong Kong $1,000 gold, for the Year of the Dragon. Lunar commemorative coins quickly gained in popularity throughout the world as collectors found the animal-themed designs appealing. Soon many countries including Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, China, Equatorial Guinea, Lao, Mongolia, Russia, France, Taiwan, Fiji, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Liberia, Macao, Malawi, Niue, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine and Vietnam were producing commemorative coins featuring zodiac animals.

The Year of the Dragon is one of the most popular coins in the series. The mythological creature is open to many artistic interpretations and is one that many collectors seem to favor. With
the current popularity of Chinese coins and bullion, the Year of the Dragon should be a very popular issue. With
so many countries hoping to capitalize on the demand for zodiac coinage, collectors should have no shortage of options to choose from.

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