Chinese Pandas: A Beginner’s Guide to Gold Pandas
Posted by Peter Anthony on 4/12/2016
Perhaps no series of modern Chinese coins is more important and more misunderstood than gold Pandas. Many people still think that gold Pandas are bullion coins, or coins that are essentially substitutes for gold bars. A glance at the value of a set of gold Pandas shows how off base this is. A complete set of B.U. (Mint State) gold Pandas has a melt value (as of the day this is written) of $71,593 while a NGC-graded MS 69 set of gold Pandas sells for roughly $225,000. That means that the entire set sells for more than three times its melt value. Put another way, two-thirds of its value is numismatic. Gold Pandas are collector coins.
But where should a newcomer to gold Pandas begin? Few collectors will attempt to assemble a complete set of every B.U. gold Panda coin, not to mention that there are proof Pandas, show Pandas and commemoratives to consider.
One of the best ways to begin is to look at how others collect the coins and the best guide to this is the NGC Registry.
The two most popular weights of gold Pandas among collectors are the one ounce and 1/10 ounce coins. The one ounce coins have been the top dog among Pandas ever since the first coins were released in 1982. They are a fine way for collectors to amass a substantial quantity of gold and also build an interesting and beautiful coin collection. The 32 mm diameter of the one ounce coins is an excellent size to reveal the beauty of each year’s design, a design that changes annually.
Two NGC Registry sets are the “Gold 1 Ounce Panda, 1982-Date, Mint State” and the “Gold 1 Ounce Panda, 1982-Date, Mint State and Proof.” The sets differ by nine coins. The latter set includes the one ounce proof gold Pandas. These were minted in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1996. There is a break in the years because the 1993 and 1994 poof sets did not contain one ounce coins. None have been minted since 1996.
In 1982, coin industry insiders expected the new gold Pandas to sell for slightly above melt value and to be popular in jewelry. They were correct that Pandas would often find their way into jewelry settings, but what was unexpected was that collector demand would overwhelm supply and drive prices sky high. Today, a 1982 one ounce gold Panda in MS 69 condition typically sells for $8,000 and up.
The 1/10 ounce Panda coins have been collector favorites since 1982. They offer both modest cost and a size large enough to adequately display the coins’ designs. The top two Registry sets are the “Gold 1/10 Ounce Panda, 1982-Date, Mint State” and the “Gold 1/10 Ounce Panda, 1982-Date, Mint State and Proof."
Type coins are another approach to collecting gold Pandas. A type coin set might, for instance, include one coin of each weight and denomination. There have been gold Pandas issued in 5 Yuan, 10 Yuan, 15 Yuan, 20 Yuan, 25 Yuan, 50 Yuan, 100 Yuan, 200 Yuan, 500 Yuan, 1000 Yuan, 2000 Yuan and 10000 Yuan denominations. A presentation of all these coins would be fairy compact in size, yet spectacular in appearance.
There are many ways to collect gold Pandas. Next month we will look at proof Pandas. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that every Chinese Panda coin is something to be cherished, a great addition to any collection no matter how small or large. Happy collecting.
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.