Another of the big lunar ranges has debuted and this time it’s the Shēngxiào lunar from the Royal Mint. The third in the twelve-coin series, this follows the Lunar Horse from 2014, and the Lunar Sheep from last year. All of the coins are designed by a British Chinese artist working in London with a passion for animals, Wuon-Gean Ho.

Available for the first time in a one-kilo format, just 88 silver and 8 gold being struck, the seven coin range now starts at £82.50 for the 1 oz silver, right up to £42,500 for the kilo gold, none being cheap. All are packaged in some fine quality red coin boxes, although you’d expect nothing less from the Royal Mint who have a great record of fine presentation.

The design, like previous issues, is one that seems to divide opinions. We like them as they’re something different and this one has a design encapsulating the boisterous nature associated with the monkeys lunar characteristics which many designs released so far have failed to capture. Available to order now, just click the ad at the bottom to go to a page showing them all.


Known as The Shēngxiào (or Chinese zodiac) Collection, The Royal Mint’s lunar coins are produced specifically for the United Kingdom, and blend Chinese tradition with British craftsmanship. This year sees the introduction of a UK kilo coin to The Shēngxiào for the first time.

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.

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 coins are supplied in bold red packaging, together with a booklet that reveals the customs that inspired the artist. All coins in the range are limited, with mintages featuring the number ‘8’ thought to be lucky in Chinese culture.


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.”  Wuon-Gean Ho

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.”




£2 UKP 0.999 SILVER 31.21 g 38.61 mm PROOF 8,054 YES / YES
£10 UKP 0.999 SILVER 156.295 g 65.00 mm PROOF 588 YES / YES
£500 UKP 0.999 SILVER 1000.5 g 100.00 mm PROOF 88 YES / YES
£10 UKP 0.9999 GOLD 3.13 g 16.5 mm B/UNC 1,888 YES / YES
£100 UKP 0.9999 GOLD 31.21 g 32.69 mm PROOF 888 YES / YES
£500 UKP 0.9999 GOLD 156.295 g 65.00 mm PROOF 38 YES / YES
£1000 UKP 0.9999 GOLD 1000.5 g 100.00 mm PROOF 8 YES / YES