A few weeks ago the Royal mint launched the third set of proof coins in the ongoing Shēngxiào Lunar series that debuted with the Horse and followed with a very nice and unusual Sheep coin last year. As before, the mint also releases a pair of one ounce bullion versions, one in silver and one in gold. Obviously not struck to the same quality, they equally obviously sell for much lower prices and don’t carry a particularly excessive premium for bullion coins.

The design is a decent one, maintaining the style set in place by the artist, Wuon-Gean Ho, that has designed all the coins in this series to date. There are no changes in design from the proof versions except for carrying an inscription setting out the coins composition and fineness which has been placed under the coin title on the reverse side. This is seen as a pretty necessary step for a bullion coin, especially after causing some heated debate amongst stackers when the 2015 Panda bullion coins were revealed to have done away with this information on the coin itself. This is the first bullion lunar to carry the new fifth effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by 2014 Britannia designer, Jody Clarke.

The Horse had mintage limits of 30,000 gold and 300,000 silver set in place, but at present, we don’t believe those limits are in place this year. These should be turning up at dealers shortly. For me personally, it’s one of the better bullion lunar designs, a bit ahead of Perth’s offering this year, but as with all these things, it will be a matter of personal choice. Available to buy in tubes of 10 (gold) and 25 (silver), but dealers usually punt these out singly as well, so they should be easy to pick up.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The Royal Mint has revealed its design for the Lunar Year of the Monkey bullion coins – an eagerly anticipated annual event in The Royal Mint’s launch calendar following the release of coins for the 2015 Year of the Sheep and the 2014 Year of the Horse.

The Royal Mint’s Lunar Shēngxiào Collection, named to honour the Chinese zodiac, is a celebration of the UK’s diverse multi-cultural society, and lends a unique British angle to this ancient custom. Each lunar year is linked to one of 12 animals, whose traits are attributed to those born during that year. Celebrated annually – Year of the Monkey starts on 8 February in 2016 – it is a traditional time for exchanging tokens and gifts of money in red envelopes, symbolising good wishes for the recipient’s health, wealth and prosperity.

The Royal Mint’s lunar bullion coins are struck as limited mintage one ounce 999.9 fine gold coins, and one ounce 999 fine silver coins. These bullion coins will launch on 30 September 2015 and for the first time will feature the new fifth definitive coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark on its obverse. They are available to buy in tubes of 10 or 25 coins, dependent on the metal purchased.

British-Chinese artist and printmaker Wuon-Gean Ho, designer of The Royal Mint’s lunar horse and sheep coins, continues the series with the Monkey – a prominent and popular figure in Chinese culture, believed to symbolise luck, honour and wealth. For centuries, it has featured in the blessing of babies, and is displayed at ports to wish sailors a safe journey. In ancient towns, monkeys were carved into the posts where horses would be tethered, thought to protect them from disease.

Those born in the Year of the Monkey are thought to be energetic, quick-witted and sociable, who enjoy applying their appetite for knowledge to creativity and problem solving.

THE DESIGN

Wuon-Gean has depicted two rhesus monkeys in her composition, part of the ‘Old World’ family of monkeys originating in Europe, Africa and Asia. Wuon-Gean explains:
“Rhesus monkeys and humans shared a common ancestor about 25 million years ago. They are extremely intelligent, sociable and family oriented, and are equally good at climbing and swimming.”

 

THE ARTIST

Wuon-Gean Ho is an artist printmaker living and working in London. Her commissions for The Royal Mint draw upon her British Chinese descent, and her experiences both as an artist and fully qualified veterinary surgeon.

“Working with and observing animals definitely helped me with my understanding of how to draw them, and how to convey their movement. It was a new concept for me to work within the coin’s circle, and also work around lettering that was curved. It has been wonderful working with the craftsmen at The Royal Mint. I’m incredibly impressed and humbled at the amount of technical mastery and knowledge that they have.”

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
£2 UKP 0.999 SILVER 31.21 g 38.61 mm BULLION TO ORDER NO / NO
£100 UKP 0.9999 GOLD 31.21 g 32.69 mm BULLION TO ORDER NO / NO
ROYAL MINT BULLION