January 28, 2017 is an important date for millions of people in China and other Asian countries. It is on this day that they will celebrate the Chinese New Year and then begin the Year of the Rooster, which runs until February 18, 2018.
According to legend, the 12-year Chinese lunar calendar began in 2600 B.C. when Buddha asked every animal on the planet to comfort him before he departed for the next life. Only twelve animals responded, and to honor their fealty, they became the basis for the lunar calendar used to this day.
World coins that celebrate this theme are the largest ongoing coin program of all time with more countries and a wider variety of shapes, sizes, and other attributes than any other series. These coins are popular not just in countries that celebrate the Chinese New Year, but also with people from all over the world.
According to Kerry Rodgers, in an article published December 19, 2011 by World Coin News, the lunar program began in earnest in 1979 when Singapore issued the first coins of this type. By 2016, the Singapore Mint completed three 12-year coin cycles, the first Mint in the world to do so.
Over the past 38 years, a dazzling array of different lunar-themed coins have been issued by the world’s Mints, including both bullion and commemorative coins in silver, gold, and other metals, from numerous private and national Mints. Some of the Mints that produce ongoing Lunar coin programs include several of the world’s top Mints such as the Royal Canadian Mint, the Perth Mint, the People’s Bank of China, the Royal Mint, and so many others, particularly countries of the British Commonwealth.
Rodgers also explains that in recent years, mintages of lunar coins have often been reduced due to both the downturn in the world economy and saturation in the lunar coin market. Some Mints have consolidated their programs around fewer varieties, while new Mints have entered the field such as Macedonia, Cameroon, and the British Virgin Islands.
The rooster is the 10th animal in the calendar, the only bird in it, and people who were born in rooster years are said to be “natural centers of attention, entertaining, quick-witted, and with a great sense of humor,” according to Rodgers’ piece in the February issue of World Coin News. The author also notes that they are “prompt, energetic and meticulous” and that they have trouble understanding why other people are not as driven as they are, which can lead to misunderstandings and drive them to work alone.
Some famous people who are roosters include: Martin Luther King, Groucho Marx, Benjamin Franklin, and Katherine Hepburn.
ModernCoinMart (MCM) goes to great lengths to make a wide variety of these coins available to collectors each year, and many of the 2017 coins have already sold out. MCM’s current inventory of lunar coin issues includes those from the Royal Canadian Mint, the Perth Mint, the Royal Mint, Niue, and even bullion bars and rounds from PAMP Mint and the Elemetal Mint.
In addition, the popular Mirror Rooster, believed to be Tokelau’s only lunar coin issue for 2017 apart from a set sold only in China, is available from MCM. That coin is part of the only lunar coin series that ever combined proof and reverse proof finishes on the same reverse design. They show two roosters looking at each other, with a huge 65mm diameter, despite being a 1 oz. silver coin, and mintage of a mere 500 coins.
The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) commemorates the Year of the Rooster with the 8th coin in its popular scallop-shaped lunar coin series. The $15 silver proof coin had its mintage reduced by 5,000 coins from last year’s lunar Monkey issue, now standing at 13,888. This coin is available graded Proof 69 and Proof 70 by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), with and without Early Releases designations.
Then there is the $10, ½ oz. silver specimen rooster, featuring a stylized image of a rooster and a mintage 15,888, available in its original government packaging, and graded by the NGC as Specimen 69 and Specimen 70 with the Early Releases designation.
2017 Reverse Proof 1 oz. Silver Maple Leaves struck with a Year of the Rooster privy mark are also available. Make sure to pick up some of those now, while they are still available in singles, rolls of 25 coins, and even monster boxes of 500 coins.
8 is considered a lucky number in China and other Asian countries, and its heavy inclusion in these releases from the RCM is certainly notable.
The Perth Mint in Australia has long been one of the leading world issuers of lunar coins. MCM currently has the silver and gold bullion 2017 Australian Year of the Rooster coins in a variety of sizes. The bullion issues are minted to demand with the exception of the 1 oz. versions, which are limited to 30,000 for the gold and 300,000 for the silver.
Most years, the other sizes end up with final mintages that are much lower than those of other world bullion coins, which has helped make them sought after by collectors, as well as stackers.
The reverse designs for the 2017 Silver Roosters show a rooster, a hen, and three chicks standing near bamboo foliage and flowers. The 2017 Gold Roosters depicts a single rooster standing proudly near some bamboo and leaves. The silver coin is designed by artist Tom Vaughan, while the gold coin is designed by Aleysha Howarth. Both have designed many other coins for Perth.
MCM has the silver ungraded in ½ oz., 1 oz., 5 oz., and 10 oz. sizes, as well as NGC graded examples in Mint State 69 and Mint State 70. In addition, for those needing quantity for the 1 oz., it is available in rolls of 20 and boxes of 100 coins.
As for the Royal Mint, MCM carries the proof 1 oz. silver rooster designed Wuon-Gean-Ho. It shows a rooster standing amidst a scattering of ten marsh daisies. Struck from .999 fine silver, it is legal tender for 2 Pounds Sterling with a mintage of just 3,888 coins. Options currently available at MCM include coins graded Proof 69 and Proof 70 by NGC.
MCM will soon have the popular rooster issues from the China Mint, which include a diverse range of silver and gold coins that are round, rectangular, fan-shaped, and many others. For 2017, these coins include some changes in mintages. Some of the weights in the lower denomination issues have also undergone changes, as they are rounded to match the use of metric weights on the Panda coins. The obverse of each coin shows the national emblem of the People’s Republic of China, while the various reverse designs depict images of roosters.
Author Name: Louis Golino
Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst,” and in August 2021 the column received the NLG award for best column on modern U.S. coins. He has also received other awards for his writing. He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and and other publications. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.