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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.