Chinese Coins: The World Is Listening

Posted on 12/22/2014

Numismatic education and research does makes a difference.

What difference do coin clubs and societies make? Who cares about coin books? Is numismatic education important? Recent happenings in Macau, China shed some light on this.

On November 30, 2014 an auction there included two newly minted Pandas, one 2 oz. gold and a 2 oz. silver. Both were issued for the Macau Numismatic Society annual show. Both Pandas were coveted number ones. The gold has a tiny mintage of 10, but the silver’s mintage of 1,000 is not unusually low for a show issue. Before I get to the results of this Champion auction, let’s look at the events that surrounded the sale.

To compliment and support the educational work of the Macau Numismatic Society, Champion sponsored two days of free symposiums. This was an extraordinary opportunity for collectors to meet and talk to many top experts on Asian numismatics.

Some examples: PMG founder Rick Seltzer spoke about banknotes. Rocky Zhao, the artist of the 2011, 2014, and 2015 Panda coins, gave an insider’s view of Panda Coin Design Concept. Yuan Shuiqing, Vice Chairman of the Xi’an Collection Society, examined The Record in China Currency History. J. C. Lee, a physicist who formed one of the great collections of Shanghai tokens, spoke about the past and future of the Otto Beh dies. King Chan, a scholar and a numismatist’s numismatist, offered advice on collecting China modern gold and silver coins.

Among the many respected speakers was Robert Mish of Mish International Monetary Inc. Mr. Mish does not have as high of a public profile as some other coin dealers. He mostly does business within the industry, but within that sphere he is famous. Mr. Mish is universally admired and respected for his depth of thought and numismatic experience. He has been a strong advocate for Chinese coins for three decades. Both the 1987 Gold San Francisco Show Panda and the 1988 Gold San Francisco Dragon were his projects.

In his talk, Mr. Mish offered stories and insights into the development of show Pandas all the way from the 1984 Hong Kong, China Panda up to the most recent Singapore, Long Beach and Berlin Pandas. The presentation concluded with a discussion of the new Macau Pandas and their renowned artist, Yu Min. Yu Min was the designer of the first silver Panda in 1983 and has designed more modern Chinese coins than anyone else. He is a giant in the field. The outstanding artwork on the Macau Pandas is part of Mr. Yu’s legacy.

The audience listened. When the number one Macau Pandas came up for sale, bidders from Macau(China), Singapore, Hong Kong(China), and China all vied to own these pieces of history. The gold medal brought $43,700 and the silver $24,500. Consistent with its commitment to improving and expanding appreciation for coins, Champion Auctions donated all proceeds from the sale of the two Pandas to the Macau Numismatic Society for educational programs and research.

One additional thought on numismatic research. When I started collecting Panda coins I became frustrated by the paucity of available information on them. So I ended up doing my own study. Eventually I decided to share the results with other collectors and wrote, The Gold and Silver Panda Coin Buyer’s Guide.

One of the curious aspects of book writing is that there is a period of time when only the author knows what’s in it. He, or she, exists in a sort of bubble where the contents seem like everyday facts, but they aren’t. Nobody else knows them and their significance is yet to be determined.

It was with awe that I watched the prices of some Panda coins soar after the first edition of The Gold and Silver Panda Coin Buyer’s Guide was published. There were some coins that went up by ten times, or more. Interest in the coins increased and, based on what I’m told, so did the number of Panda collectors. The book has now been printed in four different editions. I was tremendously honored when China Financial Press, the same publisher used by China’s own mints, published a Chinese version.

So the answer to whether numismatic education makes a difference is a resounding, yes! The next time you hear about a new coin book, or get a notice about a coin club program, pay attention. The world is listening and waiting.

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.

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