Chinese Pandas: World's Fair of Pandas

Posted on 7/11/2017

The China Mint will release a Show Panda to commemorate the ANA World's Fair of Money in Denver.

It took me only a few minutes to spot the hottest table at the World’s Fair of Money in Anaheim last year. The throng around it was hard to miss. Visitors milled about, all eyes anxiously focused on coin dealers Robert and Lourdes Mish.

Mrs. Mish stood by a corrugated cardboard box that brimmed with yellow slips of paper. A name was written on each. These represented the people who already had bought a 1 oz. silver Show Panda and now wanted a chance to go for an even bigger prize: either a 1 oz. gold or a 12 oz. silver ANA Show Panda. Robert sat facing the crowd and kept both order and track of the drawing results.

One by one Lourdes pulled out the entries and announced the winners. The elated entrants then sat down with Robert to complete the arrangements. There were only a few dozen of the gold and silver 12 oz. Show Pandas available for sale and demand for both was intense. Collectors and dealers who normally never pay attention to Chinese coins were on high alert for these. The more plentiful 1 oz. silver versions had already doubled their issue price in just a day.

This was not the first time that China Mint products caused a commotion at the ANA World’s Fair of Money. For example, in 1985 China selected the Baltimore ANA convention to be the first overseas event to have an official China commemorative issue. A 1 oz. .999 silver medal portrayed the ANA lamp logo on the obverse and the Great Wall of China on the reverse. Five hundred were struck. The new issue price was just $20.

Sales began quietly. Then, somebody noticed something amiss with the design. The words ‘The Great Wall’ were spelled backwards in English. They only looked correct when viewed in a mirror! As word got around that this was an error, the rest of mintage sold out in a short time. Collectors love this issue and its quirk. Today, well-preserved specimens can bring over $1,000 each, making it the most valuable 1 oz. silver of all the China ANA Show issues.

The following year, China brought a beautiful 5 oz. silver Panda in a deep blue velour box to the 1986 ANA Convention in Milwaukee. A Panda holding bamboo leaves fills the obverse. The reverse features two overlapping circles that hold images of the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty. Two thousand pieces were struck and these quickly sold out. At around a hundred bucks, these weren’t bad buys either.

This year, the World’s Fair of Money will be held in Denver. Panda fans can look forward to a pair of new designs from the Shanghai Mint. Both feature a Panda on one face and an image of Colorado on the opposite side. There is a 30 gram silver version plus a tri-metallic one composed of copper, brass and cupro-nickel. The mintage for each is 888.

Denver will play host to the 2017 World’s Fair of Money from August 1-5.
Several new Show Pandas will be unveiled to the public there.
The design sketches are shown.

This is the seventh time that the China Mint has released Show Pandas to commemorate the USA’s top numismatic event. It is a great example of how connected the numismatic world has become. It will surely lead to even more cooperation between the USA and China, more happy collectors and more beautiful Show Pandas.

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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