Why do they put animals on coins

Yield heavyweight: the ox from the Lunar series

Hand on heart, which animal comes to mind when you think of Australia? Most precious metal investors and coin collectors - will probably immediately think of the kangaroo, because the marsupial has been on Australian gold coins since 1990 and since 2015 also on silver bullion coins from "Down Under". The kangaroo was also immortalized on collector's coins and has since developed into the numismatic ambassador of Australia. Nevertheless, it is not at all unlikely that other animal names will be mentioned by precious metal investors in response to the Australian question - for example the rooster, the rat or the sheep. Although these animals are not necessarily part of the typical Australian fauna, they have become indispensable in the world of precious metal products: as part of the legendary “Lunar” coin series.

The Australian mint Perth Mint announced the next issue of its popular gold and silver coins in mid-September 2020, which will feature motifs from the Chinese lunar calendar. After the mouse was featured on this year's Lunar III coin, the ox will be depicted in 2021. It is no coincidence that the small and nimble mouse appears in front of the portly ox in the series: The animals of the Chinese lunar calendar go back to a legend according to which a race between various animals should have taken place. The top twelve runners should have a place on the lunar calendar. And the mouse, which quickly secured a place on the ox's back, was the first to reach the goal.

Because of its legendary victory, the mouse was given a special honor in the world of coins and precious metals: it has already been depicted three times on lunar coins. Because the Lunar series from Australia was first launched with the mouse in 1996 and relaunched in 2008 because of its sensational success. And when the "Lunar II" series came to an end in 2019, the Perth Mint had no other choice: They sent the lunar animals to the numismatic relaunch again. The "Lunar III" series has been around since 2020. The design of the animals was fundamentally changed between the series, so that many collectors also increasingly acquire the animal motifs from the past.

The lunar coins are usually available in the precious metal trade with a slight surcharge on top of the pure metal price - these comparatively low additional costs are worthwhile, because with the lunar series investors secure a double chance of return: with a mintage of 300,000 pieces in silver and only 30,000 pieces in gold, the one-ounce coins are extremely rare, but global demand is many times the annual minting volume. As a result, almost all previous vintages have developed a collector's value shortly after publication, which is above the actual metal price. Some investors therefore deal with lunar coins like they would with a good wine or whiskey: They put them in the safe for a few years and only sell them at a profit after a long period of time.

Even at first glance, it can be seen that the Lunar coins are more than a classic precious metal investment: They are delivered in a sturdy hard plastic capsule as standard. By embossing matt and glossy surfaces, a finish is achieved that is reminiscent of modern collector coins in the finest embossing quality “polished plate”. With these investment products in the premium segment, the Perth Mint shows what it can do. In this country, the Australians are also represented with the Koala and the Kookaburra in silver. For these two coins, collectors and investors are also waiting for the year 2021. Because the mintage of these two silver coins is strictly limited and those who have a little patience and have their investment coins for at least one year can legally reap the profit after the one-year period has expired.