Chinese Coins: Year of the Horse Coins Gallop In
Posted by Peter Anthony on 1/21/2014
The Year of the Snake concludes on January 30, 2014 and the Year of the Horse arrives the next day, January 31. The China Mint has already released its coins for the approaching Lunar New Year so lets take a look at them as well as some older horse coins, including a Panda.
The new coins showcase two different designs. Most coins feature a running horse in the foreground and elements of a stylized horse’s head in the background. There are also four coins with color screened on them. These four display a horse in traditional folk style with auspicious flowers in the background.
As it does every year, the China Mint offers Year of the Horse coins in four shapes: fan, scallop (plum blossom), round and rectangular.
The fan shaped coin has a special connection to the 12-year Lunar cycle. When a dozen fan coins are placed end-to-end they form a circle and every animal in the zodiac is represented. This circle also echoes the moon’s shape and has neither a beginning nor end. It makes for a very impressive set. 2014 fan coins are available as 10 Yuan 1 oz. silver and 150 Yuan 1/3 oz. gold.
The scallop-shaped coins represent one of the most significant symbols in Chinese culture, the plum blossom (梅花). This flower blooms as the ground is covered in snow during winter. Even as the rest of the earth lays fallow and seemingly dead the beauty, fragrance and perseverance of the plum blossoms reminds us of the spring to come. There are three 2014 Lunar coins in the shape of the plum blossom: a 10 Yuan 1 oz. silver, a 200 Yuan ½ oz. gold and the 10,000 Yuan 1 kg. gold.
There are two versions of the round coin: colorized and standard. The colorized coins come as 10 Yuan 1 oz. silver, 50 Yuan 1/10 oz. gold, 50 Yuan 5 oz. silver and 2,000 Yuan 5 oz. gold. The non-colorized coins are available as 10 Yuan 1 oz. silver, 300 Yuan 1 kg. silver, 20,000 Yuan 2 kg. gold and a plate-sized 100,000 Yuan 10 kg. gold. 2014 is the first year a 2 kg. Gold Lunar coin has been released.
Last but not least are a pair of rectangular 5 oz. coins in silver and gold. The silver rectangle has a 50 Yuan denomination while the gold coin is 2,000 Yuan.
The 2014 Year of the Horse coins are part of the third Lunar cycle that the China Mint has issued. The first cycle Year of the Horse coins were released in 1990. The 15 gram silver and 8 gram gold coins of this first group are all quite popular and sought after. The silver coins of this era can be real challenges to find in PF 69 condition.
The second cycle of the Year of the Horse Lunar coins are from 2002. In both gold and silver, the 2002 fan and scallop coins are keys to their respective series. They are difficult to find for sale and sell for significantly more than the fans and scallops of surrounding years.
For Panda collectors there is an interesting method to celebrate the Year of the Horse. In 1989 the China Mint struck a pair of medals for the New York International Numismatic Convention: a ¼ oz. gold and a 1 oz. silver. The announced mintage of the gold medal was 5,000 and the silver was set at 4,000. The reverse side of both medals shows a charming seated Panda. On the obverse of the gold medal, however, is an image of a ceramic Chinese horse. The silver medal’s obverse shows a galloping horse. This is one of the few times that the China Mint has struck Panda medals with another animal besides a Panda on them.
Today the horse is regarded in China as a symbol of speedy success. So as the Year of the Horse gallops in, I wish everyone a successful 2014.
Peter Anthony is an expert on Chinese modern coins with a particular focus on Panda coins. He is an analyst for the NGC Chinese Modern Coin Price Guide as well as a consultant on Chinese modern coins.