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The Lure of Chinese Gold Panda Bullion

The Lure of Chinese Gold Panda Bullion

One of the most whimsical and collectible gold coins in the world has been the relatively recent introduction of the Chinese Panda bullion coin. These coins have, since their introduction in 1982, maintained a steady premium value, often well above the spot-price of gold in any given year.

When one-ounce Krugerrand coins were first released in 1967, they took the world of gold bugs by storm. However, the 99.9% pure Chinese Gold Panda coins that were first released in 1982 have arguably had an even bigger impact. Redesigned each year, the gold Chinese Panda coins have continued to increase in value each year since the peak year of production in 1987.

All gold bullion coins are sold at a price slightly higher than the spot-price of gold when they're released, and the Chinese Panda is no exception. While this would seem to indicate that their value to the investment collector would be lower, this has not been the case. In fact, some years of Chinese Pandas have risen significantly in value on the collectors market due to their decorative appeal and relative scarcity.

The coins themselves feature the same obverse design of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing with the obverse panda design changing each year. Produced in sizes from 1/20th-ounce to one-ounce, they are popular as investment grade bullion and as jewelery charms. Some years have also produced limited runs of much larger coins, too, ranging up to 5- and 12-ounce Giant Gold Pandas in some years such as the famously robust 1987 “hockey pucks.”

One of the most popular incarnations of the Chinese Gold Panda coins is the limited edition proof sets that are issued most years. While the price of these sets has been quite high in years that featured the Giant Panda coins, most years feature five coins in a commemorative lacquered box with one-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce, 1/10th-ounce and 1/20th-ounce denominations. The demand for these sets typically outstrips production in any given year, though sets from previous years often turn up at coin collection shows.

In addition to the Chinese Gold Panda proof sets, there are sometimes special commemorative gold bullion coins released in many years. These coins are also highly prized by both numismatists and investment collectors, alike. Indeed, they are so hard to keep in stock that shops carrying them have often reported lines out the door as soon as they arrive. Especially popular recent sets include the three different 2008 Beijing Olympic Games sets.

New developments in minting technology have produced commemorative coins in bi-metal (gold and silver) designs and even holograms, as was seen in the 2004 commemorative set of the 50th Anniversary of the National People's Congress. Other popular commemorative sets include a full-color commemorative gold coin depicting the classical Chinese tale of the Monkey King.

The future of the Chinese Gold Panda coins appears strong, though production has fallen since the 1990s. In fact, due to increased domestic demand, fewer Gold Pandas make it to the international marketplace each year, with stocks of one-ounce coins running out entirely for most suppliers in late 2008 when gold bullion demand rose dramatically.

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