Joining the ranks of lunar coin producers just last year with their debut Year of the Horse coin, the Royal Mint has continued the series for 2015 with another Wuon-Gean Ho designed reverse-side artwork. Like the Royal Canadian Mint, the Royal Mint prefers to use Year of the Sheep instead of Year of the Goat, like the Perth and Royal Australian Mints. Both are equally valid and an explanation can be found in our Lunar Goat Superguide.
This years sheep coin is an unusual piece, likely to divide opinion as much as last years, but that was far nicer in the hand than in the images and we think that will be the case again. I had doubts upon first seeing it in leaked images a while ago, but really like it now. The layered, stylistic design makes it different, the animals radiate power (difficult enough for a sheep!), and the design isn’t littered with unnecessary symbols. We always try to look for something that’s different from the norm and this does that. We’ll try to get a coin to photograph as the Royal Mint images are technically excellent, but a little two-dimensional.
Bullion versions of both coins are due next month to join the growing number of bullion lunars, recently added to with last years Tokelau Lunars from Treasures of Oz,
The gold lunar has been released in just two proof versions today, the 1oz and the 5oz. In addition, a 1/10oz brilliant uncirculated version is also available. The larger two coins are beautifully packaged in wooden display boxes, the smallest in a neat display case. The 1oz coin is priced at £1,950.00, the 1/10oz at £225.00, and the 5oz at £7,500, no doubt brought about by the tiny mintages, the 5oz having only 38 examples being produced.
|£10 GBP||3.13 g||16.50 mm||B/UNC||2,888|
|£100 GBP||31.21 g||32.69 mm||PROOF||888|
|£500 GBP||156.295 g||65.00 mm||PROOF-LIKE||38|
The silver coin is available in both a one-ounce and a five-ounce variant, the former also being released in a gilded version. The design is unchanged from the gold version, just as the horse coin was. Packaging for the one-ounce versions isn’t quite as extravagant as the five-ounce, but it’s rare the Royal Mint disappoints on that score. The 1oz coin is priced at £82.50, the gilded at £110.00, and the 5oz at £395.
|£2 GBP||31.21 g||38.61 mm||PROOF||9,888|
|£10 GBP||156.295 g||65.00 mm||PROOF||1,088|
|£2 GBP||31.21 g||38.61 mm||GILDED||4,888|
The Royal Mint has revealed its coin designs for the Lunar Year of the Sheep, an event that has been eagerly anticipated since the release of the 2014 Year of the Horse coins last year – the first time that Lunar coins had been produced specifically for the United Kingdom.
Known as the Shēngxiào (or Chinese zodiac) Collection, The Royal Mint’s Lunar coin series reflects the Shēngxiào tradition, linking each year to one of 12 animals, with the animal traits attributed to those born in a given Lunar year. Celebrated annually in February, it is a time during which it is traditional to exchange tokens and, in particular, gifts of money in red envelopes, symbolising good wishes for the recipient’s health, wealth and prosperity.
British Chinese artist and printmaker Wuon-Gean Ho, who designed the 2014 Year of the Horse coin for The Royal Mint, continues the collection with a design that once again combines both British and Chinese heritage. The Year of the Sheep coin is the second in this auspicious series, and its design reflects characteristics of those born in the year of the sheep: freedom-loving with a passion for company.
Shane Bissett, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint said: “Following on from the hugely popular Year of the Horse coins range, of which three quarters were sold out in the first few months, The Royal Mint is happy to be bringing its craftsmanship and artistic skills to this latest coin in the Shēngxiào Collection. Supporting the centuries-old tradition of giving zodiac coins at the Lunar New Year, we’re expecting to see similar demand this year for Wuon Gean’s stunning design.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Wuon-Gean Ho is an artist of Chinese descent, born in the UK. She created the reverse design for the first Lunar coin from The Royal Mint, struck for the Year of the Horse, and has once again blended Chinese and British heritage in her latest design for the Year of the Sheep. Wuon-Gean works in many disciplines including printmaking, animation and books and has work in collections including the Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum. After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in the History of Art and a professional licence as a veterinary surgeon Wuon-Gean took up a Japanese Government Scholarship in 1998 to study woodblock printmaking in Japan.
For the Lunar Year of the Sheep design, Wuon-Gean was inspired by her veterinary experience and memories of the lambing season. She worked in shifts with hours of waiting before periods of busy and rewarding work, seeing new lambs come into the world and watching the mother and child bond. She recalls observing sheep as part of the British landscape – in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, on the hillsides of the Peak district and in the rolling Brecon Beacons – their presence part of British life.
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