Chan King Lam
People’s Bank of China has been issuing collectible coins made with precious metal since 1979. In 1992, it released its first Chinese Lunar signs Kilo series, also known as the First Issue (1981-92) Chinese Lunar Complete Set Commemorative Issue. At the time, the gold coin was the spotlight amongst collectors and demand far exceeded its supply.
It was not until 1995, in response to great demands of high-end collectors, that the People’s Bank of China designed the first Scalloped 1 Kilo Gold Coin. It was the year of the pig. The series draws inspirations from some of the most well-known Chinese artists, paired by relief of Chinese architecture spectaculars in the obverse. For the Chinese culture embedded in the commemorative issue, the Chinese Lunar series is well acclaimed as the epitome of the worldwide Lunar series. Firstly, it recreates Chinese fine art pieces with its traditional motif of Chinese Lunar signs. All the animals are depicted in lovely and humorous relief. Some detailed and realistic, some in more relaxed drawing styles of the Chinese literati, all deeply sculpted and well-defined. Meanwhile, the observe proudly presents classical Chinese architecture, truly magnificent and well executed. Last but not least, the scalloped shape resembles the flower of a plum blossom, which is one of the most adored blossoms in Chinese culture and is praised for its virtues of resilience. The flower also embodied the wonderful meaning of bliss and reunion.
The Chinese Lunar series was famed both for its cultural significance, as well as its rarity. Issuance was a mere 15 pieces and examples were scattered around the world. Even the largest international numismatic dealers could only secure two or three examples for their most exclusive clients.
In attempts to obtain a piece of the series, contemporary veteran collectors, and the overseas Chinese well-to-dos all raced to network with retailers. Out of 1.4 billion, only 15 have the privilege to possess one of these hefty legal tenders. To own even one piece is a solid testimony of prestige and sure to inspire imponderable satisfaction. A truly captivating collectable to have.
Four decades on, the first issues of these scalloped gold coins remained an absolute rarity in the market. With time, the scarcity and price of this piece, which was already challenging at its initial offer, has only increased. This is possibly a good chance for collectors.