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    British Silver Lunar Coins

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    Shengxiao Collection British Silver Lunar Coins from the Royal Mint

    Chinese lunar calendar-themed coin collections are in high demand right now. This fad was started by the Perth Mint of Australia with the release of the Lunar Series I collection in 1996. Since that time, Perth Mint has introduced a Lunar Series II collection, the Royal Canadian Mint has released a collection, and countless other mints around the globe have debuted lunar collections as well.

    The Royal Mint of England followed this lead in 2014 with the debut of its own lunar-themed series of gold and silver bullion coinage. Known as the Shengxiao Collection, using the Mandarin Chinese term for the Lunar Calendar, the Royal Mint’s collection features 1 oz silver and gold coins each year that reflect the given animal represented on the calendar at that time. Explore this unique lunar collection today!

    Background on the Royal Mint Shengxiao Collection

    Just in time for the Chinese New Year in 2014, the Royal Mint had a new design ready for release to launch its Shengxiao Collection of lunar coins. The Year of the Horse was the debut issue in this collection which features a new design released at the beginning of every year by the mint to coincide with the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year falls between January 21st and February 21st of each year, with the exact date determined by the observance of the moon phases and solar years.

    The use of silver and gold bullion coins to promote the animals from the Chinese Lunar Calendar is a significant nod to the actual practices of Chinese culture during New Years’ celebrations. One of the more prominent traditions of Chinese New Year is the gifting of “lucky money.” It is often handed out in red envelopes as red is a color that symbolizes luck and wards off evil spirits. The combination of new lunar animals with each release in the Shengxiao Collection and the format of silver and gold coins is the perfect team.

    Designs in the Shengxiao Collection of Silver Coins

    Wuon-Gean Ho is the artist working with the Royal Mint on the designs in the Shengxiao Collection. Her Year of the Horse design in 2014 was her first collaboration with the Royal Mint and she has since created follow-up designs for other releases in the series. Examples of designs in the Shengxiao Collection of British Silver Lunar Coins include the following:

    • The 2014 Year of the Horse: The debut issue of the series, the Year of the Horse design featured a single horse at full gallop through the countryside of Britain. Its long tail swept behind it and encircled the Chinese symbol for horse.
    • The 2015 Year of the Sheep: The Year of the Sheep design from Wuon-Gean Ho depicted not one creature, but two. There are two longhorn sheep in this design, each one looking back at the other with the Chinese symbol for sheep engraved in between their heads on the coin’s surface.
    • The 2016 Year of the Monkey: The Year of the Monkey was a playful release from the Royal Mint, with the design focusing on a specific species of monkey as it leaps from one tree branch toward another which was out of view on the coin’s surface design.
    • The 2017 Year of the Rooster: The Year of the Rooster image featured a singular rooster standing in an unknown location in Great Britain, waking the world with its morning call.
    • The 2018 Year of the Dog: Another playful design, the Year of the Dog features a small-breed dog as it runs through a field as fast as it can. This design is one of the most ornate to date in the series, with numerous background elements that add to the landscape.
    • The 2019 Year of the Pig: Though it is the final year in the 12-year cycle of the Zodiac, the 2019 1 oz Year of the Pig coin from the Royal Mint’s Shengxiao Series marks the sixth release in the collection. This year’s design is one of the most intricate to date. In the distant background, a quiet cottage’s only sign of life is the plume of smoke rising from the chimney. The cottage’s grounds give way to rolling hills and a few trees. In the foreground, a mother pig offers sustenance to five of her young piglets.
    • The 2020 Year of the Rat: With the restart of the Zodiac’s 12-year cycle, the Royal Mint offers its new Year of the Rat image. This depiction captures a rat in left-profile relief as it lifts its nose in the air, its whiskers alert to any possible danger. The rat is featured as it forages between foliage. The inscriptions include the Chinese symbol for a rat.

    All of the Shengxiao Collection British Silver Lunar Coins feature the depiction of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side. However, the coins in this series do have differing portraits of Her Majesty depending upon release. The 2014 to 2015 coins have the fourth-generation right-profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II created by Ian Rank-Broadley. In use from 1998 to 2015, this design showcases the Queen at the age of 70 as she wears the golden wedding crown.

    Coins in the Shengxiao Collection issued from 2016 onward have the new fifth-generation portrait of the Queen. Created in 2015 and issued first in 2016, this right-profile portrait from Jody Clark of the Royal Mint shows the Queen at age 89 and uses the royal diadem crown worn in the third-generation design from Raphael Maklouf which was used from 1984 to 1997.

    Another note on the designs on the obverse. Those coins available from 2014 to 2017 have a standard background field on the obverse, but the 2018 and newer releases in this collection feature the new guilloche background elements behind the Queen. Reflecting the look of braided ribbons, this design element increases the security of the coins against counterfeiting efforts.

    About the Artist

    Wuon-Gean Ho is a British-Chinese citizen and artist commissioned by the Royal Mint in 2014 to help launch the Shengxiao Collection. With more than 20 years of experience in art, she is well-trained and highly educated in the arts. Beginning in 2000, she advanced her education with various residencies including woodblock printmaking in Japan and a master’s in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art.

    Buying British Silver Lunar Coins from JM Bullion

    If you want to buy British Silver Lunar coins, JM Bullion customer service can offer you assistance and help with your purchase. We’re available on the phone at 800-276-6508, online using our live chat service, and via our email address.