Chinese Coins: Registry, Set, Go!

Posted on 1/20/2015

Silver Pandas are the most popular type of Panda to collect based on the number of registered sets.

Almost every Panda coin collector I know has a favorite series. Some like the big picture and collect "master sets" of every BU gold Panda. Others, like my late friend Nick Brown, prefer the large proof coins from 5 oz. to 1 kilogram of gold and silver. Many collectors choose crown-size Proof silver Pandas, or top grade Mint State silver Pandas.

A dedicated collector of gold Panda halves told me that he started his collection after he read an article by a prominent Chinese numismatic author. The article stated that half ounce gold Pandas are the keys to the entire series. This knowledge sent the collector on a quest that eventually led him to a top spot in the NGC Registry.

By the way, the NGC Registry is free yet quite valuable. It contains a treasure trove of information on coins, sets and their relative importance. In it you can get details about which coins make up a set. You can see which sets are most popular. The way it works is that Registry members receive points for each NGC-graded coin they own in a set. The number of points varies by coin and rarity. While competition for the highest scoring set can be heated, I have heard many times that friendships form between collectors with similar interests. For most, the NGC Registry is a good measuring stick to track progress as a set is built.

Silver Pandas are the most popular type of Panda to collect based on the number of registered sets. Number one is “Silver 10Y (1 Ounce) Panda, 1989-Date, Mint State (Incl. Varieties).” A close second is, “Silver 10Y Panda, 1983-Date, One-Per-Date.” As these sets draw so much interest, let’s look at a few of the coins in them.

If you look at the Set Score Detail you can see not only a list of all the coins in the set, but how many points each coin and grade is worth. The two coins that garner the most points are the 1995 Small Date Small Twig 10 Yuan Silver Panda and the 2000 Mirrored Ring 10 Yuan Silver Panda. Not coincidentally, these are the two key varieties in the series, the two hardest-to-find coins.

It would be difficult to exaggerate how difficult these coins became to locate once their rarity became widely known. This happened in 2010 with the publication of the first edition of the Gold and Silver Panda Coin Buyer’s Guide. I remember there was a period of more than six months during which I didn’t see a single genuine 2000 Mirrored Ring offered for sale publicly. And when I say genuine, this coin is a prime example of why NGC’s guarantee of authenticity is so important.

Not quite as rare, but still both beautiful and highly desirable is the 2000 Frosted Ring 10 Yuan Silver Panda. This was a very slow year for the Chinese coin market. It came in the wake of the Asian financial crisis and during a period of very low public interest in precious metals. Not many silver Pandas were sold. As a consequence, they are scarce today and highly desirable.

Their scarcity can be gleaned from the NGC Registry. It is an outstanding resource and research tool for both the beginning and advanced collector. Start your own set and join the fun.

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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