Chinese Pandas: The Panda Family Grows by Two

Posted on 12/17/2015

Beijing International Coin Expo features the 2016 Panda lineup.

The Beijing International Coin Expo is always a big event, but I was really impressed by the crowd as I walked up to the China National Convention Center early one cold November morning. It turned out, though, that it was the day of the Beijing Marathon and the crowd was there to cheer on the runners. As the competitors huffed and puffed their way past me I thought that it was better running weather than watching weather and continued on to the coin show.

If bigger is better, the 2015 Beijing International Coin Expo was the place for Chinese numismatists to be. From November 7-9, 2015 it had something for everyone. There is always a strong contingent of foreign mints with interesting exhibits. I particularly liked the fellow at the Austrian booth who wore a white wig and a waistcoat.

Panda collectors might have been the biggest winners at this Expo. On the first day the entire 2016 Panda lineup was introduced at a ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel across the street from the convention center. It led off with a video that featured an interview with 2016 Panda artist Zhao Qiang (“Rocky”). He talked about the significance of the Panda on the coins. For the first time ever the name of the animal on the coin is known. 2016 features Ping Ping, a Panda at the Wuhan Zoo in Hebei Province. Ping Ping means peace or quiet contemplation.

Rocky Zhao, the artist for the 2016 Pandas, together with two new Panda denominations.
Click image to enlarge.

The video demonstrated the steps that go into the creation and production of the coins. After it ended, the mintages for all Panda coins were announced. Then came a charming film about Ping Ping, who has been adopted by China Gold Coin, and is beautifully portrayed on the coins. Last but not least, a contest was held to randomly give away ten silver Pandas. It was an exciting moment, especially for the winners. They took the stage to receive their prizes. When the presentation was over, the guests were invited to linger and examine Panda coin displays at the rear of the ballroom. The most impressive coin was a pattern 1991 5 kg. Gold Panda struck at the Shenyang Mint.

The 2016 Pandas were officially released to the public the next day. A complete 2016 set of silver and gold BU coins were on display with limited quantities on sale at the China Gold Coin booth. The proof denominations were shown, but weren’t offered to buyers.

The 2016 Pandas have changed in many respects since last year. To begin with they now all conform to the metric instead of avoirdupois weight system. Here is the complete lineup with mintages:

Denomination Weight Mintage
Gold 10 Yuan BU 1 gm 600,000
Gold 50 Yuan BU 3 gm 600,000
Gold 100 Yuan BU 8 gm 600,000
Gold 200 Yuan BU 15 gm 600,000
Gold 500 Yuan BU 30 gm 600,000
Gold 800 Yuan PF 50 gm 20,000
Gold 1,500 Yuan PF 100 gm 10,000
Gold 2,000 Yuan PF 150 gm 5,000
Gold 10,000 Yuan PF 1,000 gm 500
Silver 10 Yuan BU 30 gm 8,000,000
Silver 50 Yuan PF 150 gm 50,000
Silver 300 Yuan PF 1,000 gm 20,000

One noticeable change is that Pandas have gotten back their weight and fineness markings after a one-year hiatus. It looks like the 2015 coins will be a one-year type as the only Pandas with a denomination, but without those indications.

Perhaps the most exciting development is that the Panda coin family has two new members. 2016 is the first year for 800 Yuan and 1,500 Yuan gold Pandas. The 800 Yuan may prove to be particularly attractive to collectors. It is larger in diameter than the 500 Yuan coin and contains about 1 2/3 oz. of gold. The larger diameter really allows the beauty of the design to shine. My late friend Nick Brown was a great proponent of the larger size coins for this very reason and I expect many will find this size to be just about perfect. The 20,000 mintage is tiny compared to the 600,000 for the 500 Yuan coins. It will be interesting to see how long the supply lasts before it sells out. The proof Pandas are expected to arrive at dealers in the first part of 2016. Happy New Year!

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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