Woof Woof. Artisan adds a unique and ominous twist to a lunar coin market in need of it

Regular collectors of commemorative coins are well aware of the huge number of issues released annually for the Chinese Lunar Calendar. While there’s been a small consolidation over the last couple of years , it remains a busy marketplace with numerous series competing for attention. While there are lots of different approaches to making an issue stand out in the crowd (inserts, colour, gilding, etc.), there’s always been a fairly standardised basic design language for them.

New kid on the block, Artisan Coins, have decided to take a different approach. The basic premise – a cycle of twelve popular animals in a set sequence – has been kept, but with a twist. Eschewing the usual Asian influences, or the alternative realistic style, Ominous Lunars has gone dark and scary, offering something different in a genre crying out for it.

We’re a little late with this one, but it’s a 2018 Year of the Dog coin and the first in the series. If you’re going to pick an ominous dog for a coin like this, the famous Hound of the Baskervilles from the classic Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is surely the top choice. The design is pretty cool and favours the brutal over the subtle in its depiction. An ultra-high-relief strike in an ounce of silver, the rimless coin is typical Mint of Poland, who worked with Artisan on this issue, and their involvement is pretty much a guarantee of quality. The obverse has the national emblem of Chad at its centre, surrounded by twelve claws representing the lunar animal sequence.

There are some nice touches that point to a lot of care and attention being paid. The presentation comprises a neat black aluminium tin with the laser-engraved certificate of authenticity on its lid (the serial number is also on the edge of the coin), all of which comes in a mini themed bag. The whole package is different from the usual lunar and all the better for it.

As well as the coin itself, Artisan have implemented a couple of other interesting ideas. Firstly, there’s an augmented reality app. Run the app on your phone, point it at the coin and watch the phone play a video. A quirky addition for sure, but fun for the younger collector.

Secondly is the coin register. When you buy one of the 999 numbered coins you can go the Artisans website and register it. The number, date of purchase, price and country of ownership are kept and can be updated to keep track of the coins history. We’ll have to see how popular this will be, but again, a great example of different thinking that seems to permeate Artisan’s first issue.

A neat start to an intriguing and different series of lunars in a genre in need of some fresh thinking. Artisan have provided us with some cool production process images further down. Available now, the price of around €100 is pretty reasonable given the design and mintage. You can find a list of official dealers with our blue button link at the bottom of this article.


Artisan Coin Productions, a California-based coin design studio, has teamed up with the Mint of Poland to create a new 12-coin Lunar series to be issued in the name of the Republic of Chad, an African nation.

Called “Ominous Lunar Calendar”, the new series will feature a one-ounce coin made of .999 fine silver for each lunar year. Each piece will be struck in ultra-high relief with a depth of four millimeters and an antique finish.

REVERSE: This series debuts with a 2018 Year of the Dog coin that is inspired by the Hound of Baskervilles, a supernatural and diabolical beast from the novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his third book that features the legend of Sherlock Holmes. The coin has two traditional Asian buildings plus clouds and a moon with craters will be in the background.

OBVERSE: Will be the same for all 12 Lunar coins showing 12 claws of the fictional character on its two paws (6 claws on each paw) with each claw symbolizing one of the Lunar animals, whose name will appear above the claw. Knowing the current or any other animal/year, collectors can use this design to figure out by counting what their own Lunar year is and will know what other coins they need to complete the series.

At the top of the common obverse will be a moon, while in the center will appear the coat of arms of the Republic of Chad that holds by two paws.

And under the coat of arms will be the logo of the Mint of Poland. Surrounding this design will be inscriptions for the purity, weight, name of the series, and face value.

PRESENTATION: Each coin will have its serial number on the edge with a matching number and certificate of authenticity laser engraved on the bottom of a light-weight aluminum screw-top box.

Those serial numbers will also be part of a special bonus for collectors of this series, the first-ever online coin database where collectors can track the history of coins from the series such as order dates, prices, and in which country the owner purchased the coin.

DENOMINATION 5,000 Francs CFA (Republic of Chad)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra-high-relief
BOX / COA Yes / Yes