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The focus in this article will be on the Lunar-themed 2016 Year of the Monkey commemorative coins issued by the People’s Bank of China - the central bank of the People’s Republic of China. Three Chinese Mints are involved in the production of these official 2016 Lunar Monkeys – the Shanghai Mint, the Shenyang Mint and the Shenzhen Guobao Mint.
These 2016 Chinese Lunar coins are deemed officially issued legal tender of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Republic of China, commonly known as “Taiwan,” is not officially recognized by the PRC – the same applies to the coins issued by Taiwan. Only coins issued by the PRC, including the Year of the Monkey 2016 coins in focus here, are deemed “official coins” or coins officially issued by China.
These official issue coins enjoy strong collector’s demand, especially the official Chinese Lunar Monkeys. Considering their official legal tender status, the beautiful designs, the relatively low mintage, and the high precious metals content, it is no surprise!
This is a continuation of the Chinese Zodiac Series (Chinese Lunar Series II) that is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is a well-established coin series, that is supported by many collectors across the globe. The collector coins in this series are minted to commemorate the Chinese New Year. The Chinese gold coins and silver coins in this series feature the different Chinese zodiac animal signs that can be found on the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
Each year is associated with 1 of 12 zodiac animal signs, including one of five elements (gold, water, wood, fire or earth). It is said that people born in a specific Lunar year share the perceived characteristics of the Chinese zodiac animal featured that year. The current Lunar year, which started on February 8 this year, is represented by the monkey or zodiac sign of the monkey. The perceived characteristics of people born in the Year of the Monkey include, but are not limited to being smart, quick-witted, adaptable, lively, gentle and honest. A set of more specific characteristics - that will not be covered here - comes into play depending on the monkey referenced (see below).
These relatively low mintage, 2016 Chinese Lunar coins come in various designs, face values, weights, sizes and shapes. There is also the option to choose from a selection of colorized coins – colorized by the issuing mint – the type that are sought by collectors.
The above leaves room for different tastes and budgets – placing these Chinese Lunar Series II collector coins within reach of most, if not all, collectors.
The design includes the national emblem of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The emblem incorporates, among other elements, a Chinese Buddhist shrine. The design also incorporates an auspicious design that includes fishes and lotus flowers. The fishes symbolize surplus year after year, abundance and good fortune. The lotus flower on the other hand is considered to be the holy seat of the Buddha in Chinese culture. The design also incorporates the inscription for the “People’s Republic of China” in Chinese and the year of issue, namely “2016.”
The majority of these coins, 8 gold coins and 5 silver coins, share the same reverse design. This shared design incorporates an image of a monkey along with a decorative design of a monkey in the background. The face value in yuan and the Chinese word for “Fire Monkey” are also incorporated into this design.
Why Fire Monkey? There are a total of five different monkeys associated with 5 different elements that can represent the “Year of the Monkey:"
Fire Monkey: 1956, 2016
Wood Monkey: 1944, 2004
Water Monkey: 1932, 1992
Gold Monkey: 1920, 1980
Earth Monkey: 1908, 1968
The remaining coins, 2 gold and 2 silver coins, share a common reverse that incorporates the design of a colorized monkey. This bright colored design is in line with the representation of the monkey as known in Chinese folklore - it stands out beautifully on both gold and silver.
The background on this reverse design features an auspicious flower design. The yuan face value and the Chinese word for “Fire Monkey” are also incorporated into this reverse design.
These impressive .999 fine 2016 Chinese Lunar coins come in 4 distinctive shapes: round, flower-shaped (scalloped or plum-blossom shaped), fan-shaped and rectangular.
The 1 oz. silver coins are the only coins of equal weight available in 3 of the shapes mentioned (except rectangular). This leaves an opportunity to acquire and put together a relatively affordable type set in terms of shape – the ideal beginner’s type set. Add the China 2016 10 Yuan Lunar Year of the Monkey Colored 1 oz. Proof Silver Coin to extend the set into color as well!
This year’s issue in the Chinese Zodiac Series (Chinese Lunar Series II) saw the release of 7 different silver coins and 10 different gold coins – all solid, collector issue .999 fine proof gold and silver coins.
These list relatively low mintage coins include the following 2016 Chinese gold coins along with their maximum mintage:
2016 China 50 Yuan 1/10 oz. (Plain - Round) – 120,000 maximum.
2016 China 50 Yuan 1/10 oz. (Colorized - Round) – 120,000 maximum.
This Lunar series includes the following 2016 Chinese silver coins along with their maximum mintage:
2016 China 10 Yuan 1 oz. (Plain - Round) – 200,000 maximum.
2016 China 10 Yuan 1 oz. (Colorized - Round) – 220,000 maximum.
2016 China 10 Yuan 1 oz. (Plain – Fan Shaped) – 80,000 maximum.
2016 China 10 Yuan 1 oz. (Plain – Flower Shaped) – 60,000 maximum.
For those not familiar with the term “maximum mintage” - it refers to the maximum number of coins authorized to be minted. Once the final mintage figure for a coin is declared or released, they refer to it as the “declared mintage” figure.
Depending on the demand for these coins, the declared mintage figures may come in lower than the maximum mintage figures stated above. All we know with certainty at this stage, is that they are not authorized to go beyond the maximum mintage figures stated above.
A selection of these official Year of the Monkey 2016 coins are available for sale at MCM. All these coins come NGC certified with the MCM exclusive Great Wall of China NGC label. MCM offers many of these 2016 Chinese coins in both NGC PF69 and NGC PF70 with the Ultra Cameo and Early Releases designations. This is excellent considering that all of these are relatively low mintage collector coins – the type of coins that are best enjoyed certified and encapsulated by a professional, third party coin grading service such as NGC.
If you are interested in gold and these 2016 Chinese Lunar coins in the highest grade, then consider buying the 2016 China 50 Yuan 1/10 oz. Proof Gold in NGC PF70 Ultra Cameo Early Releases (PF70 UC ER). Both the plain and colorized coins are available in this grade.
If you plan on purchasing the silver and these NGC certified yuan coins in the highest grade, look no further than the 10 Yuan 2015 Chinese Year of the Monkey 1 oz. Silver Proof in NGC PF70 UC ER. The 1 oz. Fan Shape Silver Poof and 1 oz. Colorized Silver Proof are also available in NGC PF70 UC ER. The Flower Shape 1 oz. Silver Proof is available in NGC PF70 UC – unfortunately without the Early Releases designation.
The PF70s come at higher premiums compared to the prices of the PF69s – and with reason. However, for those who cannot afford the higher premiums that come with PF70s, look no further than the PF69s that MCM has available for sale. Despite a lower grade, these coins are still in exceptional condition, and the price large reduction may make the small quality difference well worth it!
These NGC certified 2016 Year of the Monkey Yuan coins make a great addition to any collection. MCM offers these in options that cater to almost any budget. Unleash the Fire Monkey in you by securing your coins today – these are expected to sell out fast!
Author Name: Paul Maritz
Paul Maritz is a self-employed webmaster who generates income through the direct and indirect selling of advertising space through a network of websites. Paul is proficient in all areas of numismatics and enjoy participating on various forums, including MCM's Modern Coin Forum.