2020 LUNARS: Royal Mint adds to its Shengxiao series with a new style for the Year of the Rat

Now seven years old, the Royal Mints Shēngxiào Collection has always been a slightly eccentric take on the whole Lunar Calendar style of coin. Initially employing British-Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho to design the coin range, they were unusual, but polarising, so last year, the mint changed designer to Harry Brockway. The Year of the Pig design he produced seemed to be even more love:hate than the earlier coins, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see a return to more traditional art styles for 2020.

The honours this year fall to P.J.Lynch, who we feel has produced a very nice piece of work indeed. Depicting a rat in some dense floral undergrowth, it’s a nice dynamic piece, exhibiting more than just a simple portrait-style look. The gold and silver design remains the same, with the obverse the usual unadorned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark.

Plenty of purchase options. Gold comes in 1kg (tbc), 5oz (£9,995), 1oz (£2,100) and ¼oz (£530) variants, with silver having a slightly smaller range with 1oz (£85), 5oz (£420), and 1kg (£2,050) variants on offer. A brilliant uncirculated bas-metal version is also available for £13.00 for those that want the design at a cheap price. A sensible move given the gift nature of coins with this theme.

All the coins are available to order now, and the Royal Mint has a some backstory on their site you won’t find very interesting at all. A note to the mint, when you’re choosing ‘important’ people born under the Year of the Rat, try not to skip over Mozart, George Washington, Plato and Tchaikovsky, in favour of Mark Zuckerberg, Bono, Jeremy Clarkson and Jonathon Ross. We live in a dumb enough culture without you adding to it. Other than that, great coin and hopefully a new direction for the series.


Today, The Royal Mint marks the start of a new Lunar cycle in 2020 with the first sign of the calendar – the Rat. Since 2014, The Royal Mint have celebrated this ancient Chinese custom by marking each Zodiac symbol on a coin as part of The Shēngxiào Collection. The Shēngxiào Collection has grown to become an eagerly anticipated annual event amongst coin collectors across the globe.

The series is a celebration of the UK’s diverse multi-cultural society, lending a unique British angle to this ancient custom. During Chinese New Year it is common to exchange tokens and gifts of money in red envelopes symbolising good wishes for the recipient’s health, wealth and prosperity.

If you were born in the Year of the Rat, you are in good company. William Shakespeare, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Gwyneth Paltrow and Bono all share this sign, which is associated with intelligence and optimism.

The rat is thought of as a godly creature in Chinese culture, and people born in the Year of the Rat are considered to be optimistic and great at building relationships. Known to be generous and resourceful, the curiosity and intelligence of people born in the Year of the Rat leads them to seek out knowledge.

DENOMINATION £25 UKP £100 UKP £500 UKP £1000 UKP
COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 7.8 grams 31.21 grams 156.295 grams 1005.00 grams
DIMENSIONS 22.0 mm 32.69 mm 50.0 mm 100.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof Proof
BOXED MINTAGE 388 888 28 8
TOTAL MINTAGE 398 898 30 10
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.21 grams 156.295 grams 1005.00 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.61 mm 65.00 mm 100.00 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
BOXED MINTAGE 2588 188 28
TOTAL MINTAGE 3898 198 38
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes