All large gold pandas are proof coins and not for the faint-hearted: you will need a substantial financial basis for the investment or collection of these impressive gold coins. Large gold panda coins come in 5 oz, 12 oz and 1 kilogram sizes with one exception, the 1991 5 kilo gold panda specially struck to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chinese panda coin series. This is the coin that we mentioned earlier, sold twice in auction for more than $1.2m.
With the exception of the years 1982, 1983, 1985, 1989 and 1998 – at least one large gold panda coin has been minted every year.
In the 1984, the China Mint took the unprecedented act of producing a 12 oz gold panda coin. This was an ambitious early move when minting standards were still relatively primitive (compared to today). As a result, almost all of the 250 coins produced were of very low quality. They were packaged in a wrapper now known to contain harmful chemicals that since have impaired the surfaces of these coins and even through careful conservation, precious little can be done. Toward the end of the run, these coins were then placed in capsules which meant there faired better than their brothers. The China Mint learned a lot from this experiment. Whilst there were no large gold pandas in 1985, the following three years – 1986 through 1988 – the mint struck a large number of coins of this size. So large in fact, relative to demand, these coins with an average mintage of 2500 are widely accessible and affordable today selling for just a modest premium over melt.
The principle of investing and collecting large gold pandas is simple – the rarer the better and the best ones will always be the best. This is because the advanced collectors who can afford to invest or collect these large gold pandas will be the best investors or collectors in the world. Demand will always be driven by the rarity of the coins as opposed to the design or special characteristics.
The rarest 12 oz gold pandas are years 1991-1995. With the exception of the 1991 coin with an official mintage of 400 (but an actual mintage of 101), all have an official mintage of 99. That said, like the 1991 coin, the full run of coins was not produced for the 1994 and 1995. These two are the scarcest and most valuable. Fewer than 50 examples of each are known to exist and it could be as few as 30. The marketplace has shown that even though the numbers are similar for both, the 1994 appears even less frequently than the 1995 coin and so commands an even greater price.
The rarest of all is the 1991 5 kilo gold panda. With a mintage of 10 coins, the rarity and value of these rare works of art cannot be evaluated in monetary terms. Interestingly, most of these huge five kilo gold pandas are owned by international coin collectors and are largely unheard of within China.
The 5 oz gold pandas also vary largely in price according to the supply/demand. Whilst the 12 oz gold coin retired in 1995, 5 oz gold coins have been produced every year since 2005 after the last one was issued in 1994. These five ounce gold panda coins since 2005 correlate very closely to the gold price, whilst there is a premium of course to acquire them, it is modest compared to the rare issues from 1992, 1993, 1994 each with a mintage of 99 (like their 12 oz counterparts). It should be noted that the depictions on all of these coins are unique, the 1992 5 oz has a unique design to the 1992 12 oz .. and so on.
Finally, we have the kilogram gold pandas each weighing 32.15 troy ounces. They have been produced every year since 1997 (except 1998). The coins from 1997, 1999 and 2000 have a low mintage of 50-70 pieces meaning the upward pressure on price as there are more suitors than supply.
Like their gold counter parts, large silver pandas are all proof coins requiring a substantial financial outlay to invest and collect them. That said, it is a paltry sum compared to the gold coins but the premium over silver is very high. Similar to the Large Gold Pandas, the investment and collection values of the Large Silver Panda are solely based on their weight and rarity. In particular, the 1994 to 1997 12 oz Silver Panda are absolute stars in terms of rarity.
With respects to the kilogram coins, in particular those issued from 1998 to 2001 are very desirable for investors and collectors alike, with the 1998 and 2000 1 kg Silver Pandas especially so. Those that were issued after 2002, however, are much less attractive due to their very high mintages – double that of previous years.
Apart from those mentioned above, there are two large silver pandas that deserve special mention: the 1991 5 oz Silver Panda, which is the only reverse proof in the large silver panda family; and the 2002 kilo silver panda commemorative issued for the 20th anniversary of the panda coin series. The reverse side has the original size inlayed on the coin of the 1982 1 oz Gold Panda and 2001 1 oz Gold Panda which are both gold plated (3 g of gold was used). Both of these large pandas are especially praised and adorned by panda fans.
Large gold and silver panda coins are extremely attractive collectibles which are easily enjoyed for their easy to view field that impeccably show the works from the artisans at the China Mint. They are oftentimes rare commodities and as the word gets out about Chinese panda coins, people flock to these so they becomes harder to acquire on the open market. When they are available for sale, collectors and investors are very much willing to pay the fair market premium they command, after all they aren’t making any more of them and the demand is and will always be huge.