Chinese Coins: These Are a Few of My Favorite (and Less Favorite) Things of 2019

Posted on 1/21/2020

A look back at Chinese coins in 2019.

The Roaring Twenties? Wouldn’t it be something if the next decade comes to be known as that for the numismatic field? But, before we look forward to what 2020 and the next ten years will bring, let’s take a look at what we left behind in 2019. It may well be remembered as the foundation for the next step forward for Chinese coin collecting. Here are some highlights and lowlights of 2019.

January
Building a base of Panda coin collectors is essential. China Gold Coin Inc. responds with a promotional tour of the artist/designer of the 2019 Panda coins, Ms. Tong Fang. She criss-crosses the country on a speaking tour. It takes her from Shanghai to China’s far western reaches. Her arrival in cities like Qinhuangdo and Dongying is treated as a major news event by the local press and TV.

Her speeches draw huge audiences for a numismatic event. Halls with up to 500 seats are filled to standing room-only capacity. Importantly, afterwards, the visitors line up — literally by the hundreds — to buy full sets of gold Pandas and silver Pandas. She signs a special certificate with each set. Many of the buyers of these coins are women. The young designer has struck a chord with a segment of the public that does not usually play a central role in numismatic affairs.

February
Gold gets off the mat and reaches $1,300/ounce after scraping $1,200/ounce. It is a solid sign that the long decline and doldrums have ended after its 2012 run .

An obscure new special 30 gram silver panda coin, “The 40th Anniversary of State Administration of Foreign Exchange” temporarily jumps to $270 to illustrate that buyers are still out there.

March
“The market seems a little better than a year ago. There is more interest in Chinese vintage coins like cash coins and dragons and Big-Head dollars and things like that. Not a huge surge, but significant enough to be measurable. Prices of silver Pandas were low. I mean, I sold some, but it’s well-known to anyone who reads Pricepedia that prices are less than half of what they were a few years ago…That’s the way it is now. You buy something, you move it at a small margin and that’s a win now,” according to one dealer at the Hong Kong Coin Show.

The higher $1,300/ounce price draws out both buyers and sellers. Coin stores see more foot traffic than they have in years. That holds true at the Hong Kong Coin Show. In March, the first day of the show is so crowded visitors must struggle to squeeze down the aisles. Dealers are busy buying and selling, mostly buying. The final day remains busy. Things are looking up.

The Singapore International Coin Fair is also held in March and brings collectors several new Shanghai Mint medals. One medal features a design by famed Panda coin artist Zhao Qiang.

April
April showers coins on collectors. First come three coins to mark the Beijing World Horticultural Exposition. This vast garden show is the subject for a rare Chinese coin in platinum, a 3 gram depiction of children tending plants.

A revamped set of Auspicious Matters coins, a series steeped in traditional Chinese culture, is released. The individual coins represent longevity, devotion, happiness and love.

May
Two coins are released for the 70th Anniversary of China-Russian Diplomatic Relations and one of them features a panda cub! Although not technically part of China’s Panda coin series, the jolly little fellow on the 10 Yuan silver coin excites many collectors.

A full-fledged 10 Yuan silver Panda coin is released at the 2019 World Stamp Show in Wuhan, China.

An excellent CICE show is held in Beijing. It attracts a dealer from Armenia and another that offers an impressive selection of coins from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — North Korea.

The correction in gold that began in February ends in May. By the end of the month, the yellow metal’s price is just shy of $1,350/ounce. In spite of this, no wave of buying Panda coins develops. In fact, that surge never comes in 2019.

June
The gorgeous 2019 calligraphy set appears as the month gets underway. Dealers quickly sell out of the rectangular silver 50 Yuan.

Gold breaches the $1,400/ounce level and the public once again sells into this rise. So much so that the entire industry suffers a cash shortage. Incredibly, buy prices for 1 ounce bullion gold coins drop to $50/ounce below spot in the US. Photos circulate of gold Panda coins being melted.

July
It’s summer, so the coin trading is slow, but on July 30, gold finishes the month at $1,430/ounce.

August
The Hong Kong Coin Show takes place in the midst of civil disruptions that discourage attendance.

President Trump announces that the US will impose 10% tariffs upon $300 billion of Chinese imports. This is in addition to 25% tariffs already placed on $250 billion of Chinese products. On August 7, gold reaches the $1,500/ounce level. At the end of the month, it touches $1,550 and then begins a four-month long correction.

September
The 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China is on everyone’s mind as October 1 nears. Decorations and preparations are ubiquitous for the grand day. 70th Anniversary gold and silver coins sell out and only the best customers are given a chance to buy them. Some dealers lament that just as the market gets hot they cannot get enough coins.

The China International Coin Expo (CICE) show in Guangzhou from September 20-22 is both well attended and commercially successful. As usual with this series of shows, much attention is paid to activities that encourage children to take an interest in coins.

On September 1, 2019, an additional $125 billion worth of Chinese imports tariffs are imposed by the United States.

October
The 2019 Beijing International Money Expo silver commemorative coins are released on October 28, 2019.

The 2019 Panda coins are released for sale on October 28, 2019. The event takes place at the Great Hall of the People, across from Tian’anmen Square.

Gold rallies weakly at the end of the month.

November
The People's Bank of China ships China's Year of the Rat gold and silver Lunar New Year commemorative coins on November 16, 2019.

The Shanghai Mint hosts the Shanghai Coin Designers Forum, the world’s first international conference for coin designers. Eleven foreign artists and engravers make the journey to Shanghai as well as coin designers from every Chinese coin mint. Over three days (from November 11-13), the designers present their approaches to coin design and find much common ground.

Each artist offers a unique perspective. “We are constantly on a journey through life. It enriches us and is expressed through our art,” remarks Chiara Principe of Italy. Her work varies from the joys of parenthood to a stunning vision of Pandora’s Box.

Ahmed Kamal Farag of Egypt demonstrates the ties between modern and ancient cultures. Aleksandra Stokic of the Royal Australian Mint finds inspiration in Aborigine culture and tradition.

Heidi Wastweet of the US reveals the geometric core that invisibly supports her beautiful designs. Also from the US, Joel Iskowitz links the mythological to the contemporary, while his countryman Thomas Cleveland offers his philosophy of design.

Emerson RG Abraham of the Philippines muses on the ups and downs of a career in coin art. He also demonstrates an impressive mastery of every aspect of the coin-making process, from manually polishing dies to virtuoso level digital designs. Italy’s Loredana Pancotto makes a strong case for the continued relevance of traditional methods with her powerful work. Canadian portrait artist Susanna Blunt explains how her image of Queen Elizabeth wound up on more than 17 billion coins. Italian Sandra Deiana offers comments on her many lovely designs, and Matt Bowen of Canada shares a view of design from a superb coin engraver.

Then there are the hosts. The revered Chinese coin designer Luo Yonghui discusses his philosophy of coin art illustrated by examples from his celebrated career. His subjects range from animal protection to the 2008 Olympic games, and his thoughts about each are deeply insightful.

There are panel discussions, where the assembled artists hear perspectives on the future of coin design from outstanding designers like Zhu Xihua of the Shanghai Mint. All in all, this event is a successful and joyous occasion that leaves every participant, including me, crying for more next year.

Two days after the SCDF, the Beijing International Coin Expo (BICE) opens. All the official mints in China, from Shenyang to Shanghai to Shenzhen to paper money mints like Chengdu Banknote and Zhongchao Guanghua, showcase their accomplishments. The China Numismatic Museum hosts a terrific show about the growth of the People’s Republic since 1949. Numerous world mints participate in the Expo and there are educational talks. With all this and much more, BICE is the top public event of 2019 for Chinese numismatists.

And while all this goes on, gold spends the entire month of November testing its support at $1,450/ounce.

December
Shanghai hosts the December CICE event (November 30-December 2). It is mobbed the first day while Hong Kong competes to maintain its leading role for numismatic shows. The Hong Kong International Numismatic Fair opens a few days later (December 6-8, 2019).

$360 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods are still in place, some as high as 25%, and strangle imports of 2020 Panda coins to the USA.

Gold closes 2019 at $1,519.50/ounce and silver at $17.83/ounce.

Happy 2020, everybody!

Photo legend:
A. The Shenyang Mint prepares for the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China with an outdoor photo display.
B. A 10 Yuan 30 gram silver coin that commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
C. 2019 Panda coin designer Tong Fang autographs cards and promotes Panda coins at a coin show.
D. The Hong Kong Coin Show in March 2019.
E. Coin artists from around the world pose for a group photo at the Shanghai Coin Designers Forum in November 2019.
F. 2019 10 Yuan silver 30 gram “The 40th Anniversary of State Administration of Foreign Exchange” Panda coin.
G. 2020 500 Yuan 30 gram gold Panda coin.
H. 2019 10 Yuan silver 30 gram “70th Anniversary of China-Russian Diplomatic Relations” coin.
I. The China International Coin Expo held in Beijing in May 2019.
J. Renowned coin designer Mr. Luo Yonghui poses at the Beijing International Coin Expo in November 2019.

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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