Precious Metal Collectors returns to its innovative copper-cored silver coin format with the Azure Dragon

It was only last November when Precious Metal Collectors, a Singapore-based dealer and producer, introduced an interesting new format into the modern coin market. The coin in question was the first of the ‘Nine Worthies’ and depicted Hector, the Greek god, and one of the three pagans that make up the group of nine. The coin was an epic 80mm in diameter and covered with high-relief, so how was this possible with just two-ounces of silver? Quite simple. Wrap the silver around a copper core.

Inside that coin was 11.5 ounces of copper, and given that copper is nowhere near as dense as silver, that 11.5 ounces went a long way. The second issue to employ the technique is PMC’s first of the ‘Four Guardians’ series, a subject Scottsdale toyed with as a bullion design with a bitcoin integration back in 2018, but not yet followed up on. The first issue is Qing Long, the Azure Dragon.

This one retains the expansive 80mm diameter of ‘Hector’ but has a look that is decidedly Far Eastern in nature. The rampant dragon is of the Chinese-style, as you’d expect, and it’s a very dynamic and flowing piece of art, enhanced by the antique finish. Fortunately, PMC have resisted the temptation to splash colour on it, restricting the embellishment to the Chinese characters on the right, which have been gilded. The obverse depicts a old Chinese map of the constellations, in the centre of which sits an octagonal Yin-Yang symbol. On that is the obligatory effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, as this coin is issued for Niue, a Commonwealth nation.

Looking like a very nice release indeed, tapping into the style of some of the stunning medallions that come from the Chinese market in particular, and obviously there’s a box (designed by the mysterious ‘Order of the Spectres’) with a Certificate of Authenticity. Unusually, the C.O.A. will carry a serial number that continues on from the last Spectres releases, 96 Rat and Hector. Shipping next month, the Azure Dragon has a mintage of 500. We’ll try to get some more images as well.

FOUR GUARDIANS

The Four Symbols, or Four Guardians, are a quartet of mythological creatures in the East Asian constellations. They are the Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Turtle of the North. Each one of them represents a direction and a season, and each has its own individual characteristics and origins. Symbolically and as part of spiritual and religious belief, they have been culturally important across China and East Asia, particularly Korea.

In 1987, a tomb was found at Xishuipo in Puyang, Henan. There were some clam shells and bones forming the images of the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, and the Big Dipper. It is believed that the tomb belongs to the Neolithic Age, dating to about 6,000 years ago. The Rongcheng Shi manuscript recovered in 1994 gives five directions rather than four and places the animals quite differently: Yu the Great gave banners to his people marking the north with a bird, the south with a snake, the east with the sun, the west with the moon, and the center with a bear.

The colours of the animals also match the colours of soil in the corresponding areas of China: the bluish-grey water-logged soils of the east, the reddish iron-rich soils of the south, the whitish saline soils of the western deserts, the black organic-rich soils of the north and the yellow soils from the central loess plateau.

These mythological creatures have also been synthesized into the five principles system. The Azure Dragon of the East represents Wood, the Vermilion Bird of the South represents Fire, the White Tiger of the West represents Metal, and the Black Turtle (or Dark Warrior) of the North represents Water. In this system, the fifth principle Earth is represented by the Yellow Dragon of the Center.

The four beasts each represent a season. The Azure Dragon of the East represents Spring, the Vermilion Bird of the South represents Summer, the White Tiger of the West represents Autumn, and the Black Turtle of the North represents Winter. (Source: Wikipedia)

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver over 0.999 Copper
WEIGHT 62.2 grams silver / 357.7 grams copper
DIMENSIONS 80.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, gilding
MINTAGE 500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
PRECIOUS METAL COLLECTORS