The Australian Silver Lunar Series II is the successor to the Silver Lunar Series I, which ran from 1999 to 2010. The Lunar Series II began in 2008 and is set to run through 2019. In this article, I’ll discuss the coins which have been released for this popular and expensive series, without a whole lot of exposition on the Chinese calendar. I’ll mention that the Chinese calendar involves a 12-year cycle. Each year in the cycle is associated with an astrological animal which embodies certain traits. This Perth Mint collection depicts those twelve animals, with a yearly mintage for that year’s zodiacal animal.
The second of these series features finer art than the original series, in many cases. British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley designed the obverse for these coins, which feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The Ian Rank-Broadley depiction of the current British monarch is a common feature on most Perth Mint coins. The obverse also contains the words and phrases “Australia”, “Elizabeth II”, “2012”, and “1 oz 999 Silver”, along with the denomination of the coin. The reverse of the coin depicts the animal of the year.
The silvers in the Lunar Series II are issued in seven different sizes. This includes the 10-kilo, 1-kilo, 10 troy ounce, 5 ounce, 2 ounce, 1 ounce and 1/2 troy ounce denominations. On release, these coins cost $300.00, $30.00, $10.00, $8.00, $2.00, $1.00, and $0.50 cents, respectively. After release, they often soar in price.
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2008 Silver Lunar Mouse – The 2008 Year of the Mouse 1 oz Silver Coin features two mice on a thatch nest looking into the distance. It contains 1 troy ounce of silver. All the coins in this series contain .999 fine silver.
2010 Silver Lunar Tiger – The 2010 Year of the Tiger 10 Oz Silver Coin is now retailing for about $400. The 2010 1 oz Australian Year of the Tiger sells for about $65. The 2010 1/2 oz Silver Australian Year of the Tiger Coin is selling only ten dollars less, at about $55 a coin.
2011 Silver Lunar Rabbit – 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit, so the series that year depicted hares in the wild. Distinctive Chinese landscape features (trees) are shown in the background. The 2011 Australian Year of the Rabbit Silver 1 Kilo coin retails for about $625. It contains 32.151 troy ounces 0.999 silver.
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2012 Silver Lunar Dragon – 2012 was the Year of the Dragon, which is an auspicious animal associated with the ancient Chinese emperors. The dragon coins are always popular, which can sometime affect value for collectors and investors. The 2012 1 oz Silver Australian Year of the Dragon Coin retails for about $55 these days, because it contained 300,000 pieces.
2013 Silver Lunar Snake – The latest Year of the Snake was 2013, when the Perth Mint minted 7 denominations depicting a creepy-looking snake hanging from the branch of a trees. The 2013 1 oz Silver Australian Year of the Snake Coin had a run of 300,000 coins, which now retail for around $35 apiece.
2014 Silver Lunar Horse – The horses of wealth and wisdom are a pair of colorized coins which have proven popular with collectors. One coin has a white horse with gold coins (WEALTH) depicted in the background. The other is a brown horse with Chinese calligraphy symbols (WISDOM) in its background. Only 1,500 Sets of these horses were sold.
2015 Silver Lunar Goat – The 2015 Year of the Goat coin represents wealth and wisdom. There are two coins in this release and both are considered legal tender. This set comes in its own collector’s box, along with a certificate of authenticity.
2016 Silver Lunar Monkey – The 2016 Australian Silver Monkey Coin is the latest release in the Australian Lunar Series II from the world-famous Perth Mint. These finely-detailed coins are minted using .999 pure, proof-quality silver, and are available in a variety of weights: 1/2 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz and 5oz.
The Lunar Series II is proving to be as popular as the original Lunar Series I. In my opinion, the second series has even better art than the original coin sets. If form holds true, a Lunar Series III should be coming out in the next few years. Given that the 2nd series began with 3 years left in the 1st series, it might well be that we hear of a third series set for release as early as 2017, which would be the 10th year in the current 12-year cycle.