The Market’s Black Sheep and Dark Horses

Each year the Lunar series always seems to manage to produce a dark horse. Each year one, perhaps two, particular coins emerge from the series and perform outstandingly well in the market. While the Lunar series is quite an extensive one, with many different coin varieties, one coin always does well. Last year it was the 5 oz coloured silver coin, which doubled in price over the course of a year, while in 2012, it was the fan-shaped silver dragon which enjoyed all the attention, again doubling in price.

The 2015 Year of the Ram series of Lunar coins was officially released on the 10th October 2014, a set comprising 16 coins: 9 gold and 7 silver, and with mintages the same as the previous year’s Year of the Horse set. Industry experts consider this year’s Lunar series to be a very accessible one, with high mintages of 200,000 for the 1 oz silver coin, with a price which now stands at about 850 yuan; or the slightly higher 220,000 pieces issued of the coloured silver coin, which has a market value of 1050 yuan. The higher price despite the greater mintage is explained by the extra craftsmanship required to produce a coloured coin, thereby raising its numismatic value.

However, on the flip side, if you are looking to acquire an entire set for 2015, it will be no easy task. Mintage figures for the mighty 10 kilo gold coin – dubbed 币王, or “king of coins” by the Chinese – stand at a mere 18, and require an equally kingly bank balance to acquire. For this coin you’re looking at spending in the region of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 yuan. Similarly, the 1 kilo scallop-shaped gold coin has a mintage of 118; and the standard 2 kilo gold piece has just 100, making these two also extremely scarce and requiring a hefty investment.

10 kilo year of the goat 2015 10 kilo year of the goat 2015 obverseThe “King of Coins”

For those who get involved early while the prices are yet to move significantly, the financial returns on their initial investment can be huge. Of course, they just have to pick the right coin! For instance, at the end of 2013, the 2014 Year of the Horse 5 oz coloured coin had just hit the market with a value of 3700 yuan, but now it has a price tag of 6300 yuan. Moreover, the 2012 Year of the Dragon fan-shaped 1 oz silver coin hit the market at 500-600 yuan, but prices recently are at 2000 yuan. Earlier coins have shown similar trends, with the 1998 Year of the Tiger 1 oz coloured silver coin entering the marketplace at no more than 600 yuan, and now, after many years, a price of 3500 yuan would not be out of the question.

Short-term attention for this year may well be determined by the coin exchanges, and which coins get picked to form these new stock market exchange funds. However, the short-term risk is relatively high in this new market development. History indicates that the dark horse is unlikely to be the 5 oz rectangle pieces of the series, which over the past few years, despite their low mintage figures, have suffered a certain degree of neglect because of their low popularity, and have not fulfilled their deserved collector value. So where will the heat be for the 2015 Year of the Ram? Which coin will be the antithesis of the “black sheep”?

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