Chinese Pandas: ANA Show Pandas

Posted on 8/4/2016

A history of the ANA Show Pandas, with details on the upcoming 2016 commemoratives.

Great things happen at the ANA World’s Fair of Money. In 2009, the show was held in my hometown of Los Angeles. The floor of the South Hall at the LA Convention Center is huge. That day it was crowded with visitors, exhibits and coin dealer’s booths. In my shoulder bag was an unfinished manuscript of a book about Panda coins. Around the floor, I saw the tables of several dealers from whom I had mail-ordered coins, but had never met before.

I spent hours looking at coins and taking photos. One large table was unforgettable. The cases were filled with a mind-boggling display of rare Chinese gold and commemorative coins. It belonged to a Chicago coin company, Majestic Rarities. The owner was constantly busy, talking to people and selling coins. This was the first time I laid eyes on Nick Brown and we didn’t speak. Little did I suspect that within a couple of years he would become one of my best friends and that I would one day dedicate the Buyer’s Guide to Gold & Silver Panda Coins, the unfinished book in my bag that day, to him.

The ANA World’s Fair of Money has long been the USA’s top coin show. It is where collectors and dealers go to meet, to greet, to make deals, to see exhibits and presentations and – above all – to have fun. It is also the place where many Show Pandas were introduced. What is a Show Panda? Show Pandas are official Chinese Panda coins or commemoratives struck for a specific coin show.

Up until this year there were Show Pandas minted for five ANA conventions:

1986 Milwaukee
1987 Atlanta
1988 Cincinnati
1989 Pittsburgh
2012 Philadelphia

All of the Show Pandas from the 1980s have become scarce and valuable. Just 2,000 of the 1986 Milwaukee 5 oz. Show Panda were minted. They were packaged in blue velour boxes highlighted by a red ribbon. All were quickly sold. The 1987 Atlanta ANA 5 oz. Panda had the same mintage and the same result – sold out.

The first ANA Show Panda features an image of the
Statue of Liberty, although the ANA convention that year
was held in Milwaukee. Click image to enlarge.

The 1988 Cincinnati ANA Show Pandas faced a slower market than the earlier issues. The 1 oz. silver Panda (mintage 2,000) sold out again, but the first gold Show Panda did not. This happened even though the actual mintage was far lower than the planned 1,100.

The 1989 Pittsburgh ANA Show Panda stands out as the only one struck in palladium. Then there is a great gap in time before another ANA Show Panda appears. These are the 2012 Philadelphia 5 oz. gold and 5 oz. and 1 oz. silver Show Pandas. The 5 oz. gold, in particular, with a mintage of 99 was an instant hit.

The great news, as we await the 2016 ANA World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim, California is that new Show Pandas will be released there. Three versions were struck at the Shanghai Mint: a 1 oz. gold (mintage 125), a 1 oz. silver (mintage 2,000) and a 12 oz. silver (mintage 125). These show Pandas will only be sold to ANA members. They will be available at booth 733 starting on Tuesday, August 9 while supplies last.

As always, the ANA convention will offer exciting exhibits and presentations. I once watched Zhao Qiang, the artist of the 2015 and 2016 Panda coins, carefully study coin exhibits at an ANA convention. I asked him what he saw in these designs and he answered, “Inspiration.”

Besides the exhibits, there will be many presentations. One that I plan to attend will be the Philippine Collectors Forum at 3:30 pm on Friday, August 12. Author Kyle Ponterio will discuss his research on countermarked Philippine gold coins. Some extraordinary examples of these are in the collection of the People’s Bank of China in Beijing.

See you all in Anaheim.

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