Spring Launch Special: CIT, MDM and Mint XXI take different approaches to the popular Lunar Dragon coin market
The lunar market continues to be a regular fixture on the numismatic calendar, although less important than it seemed a decade ago. We stopped our annual round-ups back in 2019 after limited feedback on their usefulness, but a quick look to see what the big independent producers are cooking up seems warranted. If there’s interest, we may do one for the 2024 Dragon cycle, so feel free to leave a comment below.
MDM have added to their mother-of-pearl range with the start of a second run through the lunar calendar, sporting a design subject to a few tweaks. Mint XXI have targeted the affordable end of the market with their fourth, half-ounce issue. CIT have gone all-in with the latest in their trio of issues, using an innovative dimensional silver coin as their inspiration, and spinning off the core look into minigold and silver banknote foils. These three producers have quite literally given us a selection where there should genuinely be something for every taste and budget. Can’t argue with that.
LUNAR DRAGON MOTHER OF PEARL
The mother-of-pearl coins from MDM have been a seemingly perpetual fixture in the lunar market for over a decade, 2012 to be more accurate. Indeed, we regularly trumpeted the 2014 Year of the Horse release to be our favourite lunar coin that year. The 2012 coin was a dragon, and the style laid out in that coin was followed for the next eleven releases. The 2024 coin, however, is the first in a new sequence, and has a few changes to mark that out.
On the reverse face, the most obvious difference is the use of an oval-shaped mother-of-pearl insert, which approaches closer to the edge of the coin than the older round ones did. A neutral change, but it has allowed a bit more space in the border to the left and right, which MDM have utilised for some nice detailing in the form of some scenery. A big improvement over the blander border of the first sequence of issues. The obverse also gains a nice patterned background to go with the change from the Cook Islands, to the Solomon Islands as the issuing state. The Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II is retained.
The same pair of five-ounce coins, one silver and one gold, return to do service, so these aren’t for the casual collector, but the hard-core lunar collector will like the quality, unique style, and heritage on offer here,
|$25 (Solomon Islands)||155.5 g of 0.999 silver||65 mm||Proof||688|
|$100 (Solomon Islands)||155.5 g of 0.999 gold||65 mm||Proof||25|
GREAT SILVER DRAGON RANGE
CIT have added to their range with the same trio of formats they’ve had for a few years now. The core coin is n exquisite one-ounce dimensional silver coin which is simply superb. The style is spot-on (even down to the pearl underfoot), the strike uncompromised, and the finish perfectly judged. This has been an outstanding lunar series, likely our favourite of all, but even by the high standards of previous releases, this one stands out. As a one-ounce silver strike, it’s also quite affordable compared to many, and especially for something so unique looking.
Next is a CIT classic, the half-gram minigold. There simply isn’t enough metal to make this a dimensional strike, but the basic look has transitioned over, and we remain impressed by just how much detail CIT can now impart on a coin with a diameter of just 11 mm.
Finally, there’s one of the increasingly rarely released silver foils, which seamlessly blends the dragon image into the fine-lined banknote style. We thought these foils would be a huge genre in the numismatic market by now, but it wasn’t to be. We’re glad the occasional release still puts in an appearance, and ironically, CIT also added an Iron Maiden foil this month as well. In conclusion, a really varied mix of styles, all well realised, with the dimensional silver coin a real star.
|1,000 Tögrög (Mongolia)||31.1 g of 0.999 silver||33 x 25 mm||Antique||999|
|1,000 Tögrög (Mongolia)||0.5 g of 0.9999 gold||11.0 mm||Proof||5,000|
|100 Tögrög (Mongolia)||5.0 g of 0.999 silver||150 x 70 mm||Prooflike||5,000|
THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON
This one is the least ambitious in terms of design, and the thing is, we like that. It’s easy to forget that lunar coins are part of a bigger market, where the giving of gifts is commonplace, so having something with a quality design that remains eminently affordable compared to its high-end compatriots, is very important. Despite its half-ounce weight, it loses nothing in size, reaching 40 mm in diameter.
The design is classically Asian in nature, both clean and simple, and with an embedded green crystal in the head, the colour perhaps a nod to it being the Year of the Green Wood Dragon (the lunar calendar is more complex than just 12 beasts). It’s a traditional coin, really, and there’s always a place for those. It comes boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity, so would make a great, affordable gift in a culture that loves precious metal.
|2 Cedis (Republic of Ghana)||15.5 g of 0.999 silver||40 mm||Proof||1,000|
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