Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1 – 1996
The Perth Mint kicked off its Lunar Series with the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1, the first year in the repeating Chinese Lunar Calendar. This cycle of the Lunar Calendar concludes in 2007 with the Year of Pig.
The obverse of the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1 carries the effigy of a young Queen Elizabeth, the third official likeness of the Queen during her reign. The same likeness graces the obverses of the 1997 Ox and the 1998 Tiger. However, in 1999 Australia adopted a mature image of the Queen, one that Buckingham Palace had released in late 1997.
The release of the new effigy resulted in the first three coins in the Lunar Series (the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1, the Ox, and the Tiger) carrying a young likeness of Queen Elizabeth, while the remaining nine coins carry a mature Queen Elizabeth.
As is the case with all the one-ounce gold coins in the Lunar Series, production of the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1 coins will be limited to 30,000. Because the cap has been not reached, under the legislation that authorized the Lunar Series coins, The Perth Mint can produce the coins until the 30,000-coin limit is reached. This policy enables collectors to put together complete sets at prices close to the spot price of gold, even if they do not learn about the coins until years after the coins are introduced.
Because The Perth Mint is still producing the Year of theAustralian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1 gold coins, they are relatively cheap, for collector coins, selling a few dollars above popular one-ounce bullion gold coins.
Year of the Rat Traits
People born in the Year of the Mouse are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite sex. They work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possessions, and are likely to be perfectionists. They are thrifty but are easily angered and love to gossip. Their ambitions are big, and they are usually very successful. They are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.
Besides 1996, other Mouse years include 2008, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912, and 1900.
Limited Production Coins
Another reason for the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1 coins’ popularity is that they are limited production coins. In contrast, Gold Eagles, which are the world’s best-selling 22-karat gold coins, and Gold Maple Leafs, the world’s best-selling 24-karat gold coins, are unlimited production coins. The 1-ounce Lunar Series gold coins are limited to 30,000 coins for each year and clearly have become collector favorites.
The Year 2000 1-ounce Gold Dragons, the 2001 Gold Snake and the 2002 1-ounce Gold Horses have reached their productions caps and are no longer being produced, so availability is limited to the secondary market and these coins carry premiums over the coins within the series that have not reached the 30,000-coin production cap.
Another feature that makes the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1 so popular is that The Perth Mint can produce back-dated coins until the production cap is met. This means that the earlier coins are still available and can be purchased near bullion coin prices, permitting collectors who learn of the series late to acquire the earlier coins at bullion coin prices. The policy of minting coins from earlier years is unique to The Perth Mint and for only the Lunar Series coins.
Somehow, 30,000 became a magical number for the Australian Gold Lunar Rat 1 oz Series 1. The number is large enough for broad investor interest but small enough that at attainment of production caps, they pick up premiums.
Shortly after the year 2000 1-ounce Dragons reached their production cap in the summer of 2001, they picked up premiums in the secondary market. The year 2002 1-ounce Gold Horses reached the production cap in the spring of 2005 and also picked up premiums in the secondary market. However, the 1-ounce Gold Dragon carries the highest premium, the dragon essentially being China’s icon. The year 2001 1-ounce Gold Snakes has also hit the production cap and may experience a likewise increase in premium.
Queen Elizabeth II Matures
By law, the Lunar Series coins have to display the image of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. When the series started in 1996, the official likeness of the Queen was younger. In 1999, however, Buckingham Palace changed the official likeness to a mature Queen, which is carried forward into the Lunar II series.
The change resulted in the first three years’ coins (1996, 1997, and 1998) having the image of the younger Queen Elizabeth and with the later coins having the mature image. In years to come, after the Series has closed, this uniqueness could stimulate greater interest in the Series in Great Britain and those countries that used to be part of the British Empire.
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