First struck in 1982, the Gold Panda is the signature of the China Mint. The Gold Panda was the third gold bullion coin to capture a share of the world's gold market, following in the footsteps of the South Africa Gold Krugerrand (first minted in 1967) and the Gold Maple (first minted in 1979).
The coin features China's iconic Giant Panda on the reverse and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing's Forbidden City on the obverse. Each year a new reverse design debuts showing the symbolic Panda Bear from a new perspective. The one-year-only designs have allowed for a great deal of variety in the series and gives collectors something to look forward to every year!
China issued its first Gold Panda coins in 1982, in sizes of 1 oz., 1/2 oz., 1/4 oz., and 1/10 oz. of .999 fine gold. Beginning in 1983, another size was added, the 1/20 Oz. Larger Panda coins were issued in some years, weighing from 5 Oz. and 1 Kilogram. These famous coins are issued in Proof-like Brilliant Uncirculated quality with a different design each year. A freeze of the design was announced with the 2001 issues. Thus, the 2002 Pandas are identical to 2001. After numismatists spoke up regarding the annual changes, China reverted to their original policy. Several mints produce these coins, including, but not limited to, Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Shenyang. Unlike coins made by U.S. Mints that carry mint marks to distinguish their origin, Chinese Mints usually do not employ mint marks. However, in certain years, there are minor variations (size of the date, style of the temple, etc.) in the coin design that allow the originating mint to be determined.
The 1984 12 Oz. Gold Panda is the first Gold Panda of its size. It was struck in a limited edition of only 250 Proofs. The 1987 5 Oz. Gold Panda is the first of that size minted. The Mint only struck 3,000 Proofs. The first one kilogram Gold Panda was struck in 1997 in Proof condition. Only 58 of these Giant Panda gold coins were minted.
Many other special Gold Pandas were minted, including bi-metal and colorized editions. Over the years, the China Mint has issued special Gold Pandas in conjunction with major numismatic coin shows worldwide. Known as "Show Pandas," these issues can be challenging to locate, as many were only issued at their respective coin show and have traditionally low mintages.
2016 saw the transition of Gold Panda coins from being issued in troy ounces to metric weights and a revision of their respective face values. The transition makes sense since China uses the Metric System for other measurement purposes. The standard-issue 500 Yuan coin now weighs 30 grams instead of 1 oz. The 200 Yuan coin now weighs 15 grams instead of ½ oz. The 100 Yuan coin now weighs 8 grams instead of ¼ oz. The 50 Yuan coin now weighs 3 grams instead of 1/10 oz. Finally, the 20 Yuan coin weighs 1 gram instead of 1/20 oz.
The China Mint started a series of coins in 2019 that is projected to run through 2028. This "series in a series" will show a Chinese Giant Panda cub growing and maturing every step of the way, from the youthful cuteness of cub hood to the more mature, laid-back nature of their bamboo-munching adulthood.
The 2021 Gold Panda reverse features a growing Giant Panda cub and mother. The mother watches on attentively as the cub scrambles up a tree branch. The designer who has crafted the 2021 image is artist Tong Fang. Tong Fang is no stranger to the series, having acted as the designer for the popular 2019 edition of the coin.
Chinese Gold Pandas offer numismatists a stunning variety and breadth of choices.