By Louis Golino for Coin Week .....
He explained that for the first time the Perth Mint will release the colorized silver Lunar II series Year of the Dragon single coin in proof with a mintage limited to 10,000 pieces.
Previous color versions in the Lunar II series have been reverse proof coins.
The coins have a larger format than most one ounce coins. They have a diameter or 45.6 milimeters or two inches across.
In addition, the mint is releasing a half-ounce color proof coin with the same mintage and a kilogram color proof coin limited to 5,000 pieces.
The coins will be released on Tuesday, October 4.
The Perth Mint also issues gold bullion and proof versions of the coins in the Lunar series. Many earlier issues sell for substantial premiums above melt, especially the proof gold coins.
The gold bullion, reverse proof Year of the Dragon 2012 coin has a mintage of 30,000 and sells for about $2100 with gold at approximately $1,650.
Talisman has the coins that will be released on October 4 for sale on its web site on a pre-order basis.
The coins are priced at $99.95 for the color ounce proof, and $64.95 for the half ounce proof. The one kilo color version runs $1,999.95.
The coins are expected to be available for delivery around late October or sometime next month.
The Perth Mint is also releasing tomorrow a gilded reverse proof one ounce dragon and a four-coin Lunar type set. There is also a half ounce gilded reverse proof.
The Lunar type set will include the bullion version of the one ounce dragon in reverse proof, the proof one ounce version, the reverse proof gilded version, and a colorized reverse proof coin.
The sets have a mintage limited to 1,500 units and contain four ounces of silver.
The gilded one ounce coins are limited to 50,000 pieces. I am not certain of the mintage on the half ounce gilded coins but suspect it is also 50,000.
Competition is expected to be very fierce for all of these coins, especially for the type sets.
Talisman is only selling its limited allocation of the sets to customers who purchased the previous three Lunar type sets.
The Talisman representative I spoke with said that his company is being inundated with orders, particularly from speculators looking to cash in on these limited mintage coins and sets.
He said he feels that those individuals are “ruining the hobby” and that his company tries to give preference to collectors looking to update their collections rather than speculative investors.
There has been intense interest in and demand for this year’s Perth dragon coins.
That is partly because dragons are the most popular of the Lunar II series coins. I suspect that a major drive of the demand for the dragons is buyers in Asia, especially China, where dragons are a popular cultural symbol.
There are unconfirmed rumors that Chinese buyers snapped up the majority of the regular bullion and proof coins about a month ago.
The bullion coins are issued in a number of different sizes, including half ounce, one ounce, two ounce, five ounce, ten ounce, and kilogram.
There are also proof collector versions of these coins in one ounce, half ounce, two ounce, and kilogram sizes.
The bullion versions are issued in unlimited quantities except for the one ounce coin which is limited to 300,000 coins, and which sold out quickly. In addition, the kilogram bullion coin has a mintage of 500 and sold out immediately.
The bullion one ounce, which has a reverse proof finish, is currently selling on the secondary market for $100-120 for raw coins. NGC-graded MS69's run about $150 and MS70's are almost $250.
The Perth Mint sold out of its initial run of all the other sizes of the bullion coins very quickly. But more pieces are expected to be issued this fall and could result in a decrease in secondary market values for the sizes other than the ounce and kilo coins.
The one-ounce proof coin is limited to 5,000 pieces, and the kilo proof coin to 500 pieces. Both also sold out almost immediately.
The one-ounce proof was also sold as part of a three-coin set with a half-ounce and two-ounce proof, and the sets were limited to 1,500 units.
The proof ounce coin was initially available from the Perth Mint for about $100 and from retailers for $120-150. It is now selling for $400-800 on eBay and from U.S. retailers including Paradise Mint, Modern Coin Mart, Gainesville Coins
, and APMEX.
The Royal Australian Mint, which is not the same as the Perth Mint, is also issuing 2012 dragon coins.
Louis Golino is a coin collector and numismatic writer, whose articles on coins have appeared in Coin World, Numismatic News, and a number of different coin web sites. His column for Coin Week, “The Coin Analyst,” covers U.S. and world coins and precious metals. He collects U.S. and European coins and is a member of the ANA, PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He has also worked for the U.S. Library of Congress and has been a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international affairs for a wide variety of newspapers and web sites.