The original and most enduring precious metal coin program celebrating the ancient Chinese lunar calendar has retained an ardent following since a mouse appeared on the very first Australian Lunar proof coin back in 1995.
As the saying goes, ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, and while other lunar coin series have appeared on the market, the Australian Lunar has maintained its premier position over two Series since the program’s inception.
According to Neil Vance, the Mint’s Group Manager – Minted Products, there are several key reasons for the popularity of Lunar coins.
“There’s a natural fascination with something as unique as the Chinese lunar calendar which dates back for thousands of years,” he said. “It’s based on a 12-year cycle of the moon with each year named after a different animal. Having 12 coins to collect is a very realistic objective for many collectors who enjoy building a complete collection over time.”
People are also intrigued by their personal animal and the alleged personality traits that defines it. “So we also see many collectors purchasing individual year coins because the animal portrayed is special to them,” he added.
As well as being the world’s first major coin program to tap into this interest, the Australian Lunar has long been renowned for the quality of its designs and finishes. Ahead of their time, proof coins from Series I were a revelation to collectors of popular themes when they appeared in the 1990s. Today, the Mint continues to lead the field with a range of special finishes, including beautifully coloured mini-masterpieces.
Launched this month, these Series II coloured proofs celebrate the Year of the Dog with lifelike representations of German shepherds and a labrador retriever. The penultimate design in the current lunar cycle, they will be followed by the concluding Year of the Pig coins in 2019 – when many collectors will reap the satisfaction of completing a cherished 12-coin set.