1996 12 oz silver Panda
The 12 oz silver Panda series was begun in 1988, with mintages initially numbering in their thousands. However this was tapered gradually as 1996 approached, with 1996 marking a low for the series with a mere 800 pieces. Mintages returned to their usual level for 1997, but the series was discontinued after 1997, and no 12 oz silver Panda was issued in 1998. A standard set of 12 oz silver Pandas comprises 10 coins, one of each date from 1988 through to 1997.
The 1996 12 oz silver Panda was struck at the Shanghai Mint with an official mintage of 800 pieces. This coin type measures 80 mm in diameter and has a face value of 100 yuan. The sizeable piece, legal tender in the PRC, contains 12 oz silver officially certified by the mint to be of 0.999 fineness.
The obverse face features the inscription of the PRC, below which is an image of the Temple of Heaven – more specifically the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests – depicted as though the viewer is in a slightly elevated position. Beneath the image is the year of issue, 1996.
The image on the reverse face shows a family of three giant pandas exploring a forest scene in the foreground, set against a backdrop of a flat plain with a mountain in the distance. The design is one of the busier and more interesting of the Panda coin series. Two pandas are depicted playing on the right of the scene, while the third is shown climbing a tree in the foreground on the left. The denomination of 100 yuan and the usual inscription detailing the metallic properties of the coin are both struck at the top of the reverse face. There are two varieties of this coin type; see below for more detail.
As mentioned above, there are two varieties of the 1996 12 oz silver Panda. Both varieties concern differences on the reverse face. The first of these is the three-leg or frosted leg variety. At the far left hand side of the reverse face a panda is seen climbing a tree. On closer inspection only three of the four legs are clearly visible and have a mirrored finish. The rear right leg seems to disappear into the rest of the coin face as it has been concealed by the frosted finish.
The second is the four-leg or mirrored leg variety. In this case the same climbing panda now has four clearly visible legs, all with the mirrored finish. The four-leg variety is the scarcer of the two and is particularly rare. To date, only 20 examples are known out of an official mintage of 800.
Representing just 5% of the total mintage, the price appreciation potential for the mirrored leg variety of the 1996 12 oz silver Panda is very great. Having said that, the frosted leg variety should not be looked down upon when it comes to investment options! Coming form such a small mintage as 800 pieces, any of these 1996 12 oz silver Pandas has a good price potential.
While the 3-leg variety, depending on condition, might attract bids at auction in the region of $3,000 to $7,000, the rarer 4-leg variety would be expected to perform significantly better, with final prices settling in the range of $8,000 to $12,000.