Among collectors nowadays another key year for the Panda series is 1998. The Asian financial crisis of 1997 meant that demand for the Panda series minted in 1998 was particularly low. In the fallout from these crippling economic difficulties, many collectors felt that they had no option other than to melt their stocks of Panda coins for their bullion value.
Today this makes 1998 Pandas somewhat hard to come by. What for many coin types in the series that year started off as low mintage figures are widely believed to be even lower than those officially published.
One example would be the 1998 ¼ oz Gold Panda coin. These brilliant uncirculated coins have a face value of 25 yuan and a fineness of 99.9%. There exist both large and small date varieties, the large date types being struck at the Shenyang mint, while the small ones were struck at the Shanghai mint. It is uncertain how much of each type were struck, but combined the official mintage at the time was 13009. However, as previously said, the survival mintage is much lower.
Currently it would seem that the large date variety has a slightly greater market value than the small date variety, a difference that becomes particularly marked among coins that grade MS69. There are an unusually high number of this coin type that are on record as having grades in the low 60s: testament to the scarcity of this coin, a fact which makes even coins in poor condition particularly valuable.
There is a live auction at Zhao Online with just over 24 hours to go for one such piece. It is a large date variety, and grades well at PCGS MS69. There are currently no bids, but the entry bid is 13000 yuan (about $2120). At the end of August a similar coin sold for 15400 yuan (about $2510), so there is plenty of scope there. But you don’t need to go to the auction houses to secure such rarities in exquisite condition: the coin store has a similar piece, also a large date variety graded at NGC MS69, and with its current price at just $2098, the coin store is significantly undercutting the auction houses.