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What possible connection could there be between giant pandas, the moon, 2,000 years of Chinese culture, and the International Space Station? The answer will amaze and delight you!
As a MCM customer, we probably don't have to tell you much about the China Mint's incredibly popular precious metal Panda program. For over thirty years, China has issued gold, platinum, and silver Panda coins and commemoratives-and they're one of the most popular collectible series in the entire world. But today, China has just unveiled a spectacular new Panda Silver commemorative that will amaze you for FIVE stunning reasons:
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While many of the gold and silver Panda issues of the past have been legal-tender coins, some of the scarcest and most valuable are actually non legal-tender commemoratives. There is a rich tradition of China issuing special Pandas to mark major milestones or events. Up until now, the two largest commemorative issues were struck in twelve ounces of silver for the 1986 Hong Kong coin show and the 1997 Munich show. But today, China has shattered that record and stunned the collecting world by unveiling the largest Panda commemorative ever! The 2015 China Panda Moon Festival Silver & Gold Proof contains 2.2 POUNDS of 99.9% pure silver. This massive new Silver & Gold Panda Proof literally fills your palm thanks to its impressive 100mm diameter. But one of the first things you notice when looking at all that silver is that it also contains gold. The moon which the panda is watching in the night sky is struck from a tenth-ounce of 99.9% fine gold. But not just any gold! There's a story hidden within the "moon gold" that you won't believe...
The Moon Festival is one of the largest and most important holiday celebrations in China. Like our own Thanksgiving holiday, the Moon Festival is a time for gathering with family and friends to celebrate your blessings and to give thanks. Why is the Moon at the center of this important celebration? Because-in the days before clocks or watches-the moon was the most accurate way to measure time. Phases of the moon provided Chinese farmers with a vital guide for planting, harvesting, and moving cattle between winter and summer grazing pastures. The moon came to symbolize the giving of life itself. To this very day, it remains a powerful symbol of the harvest, as well as the blessings of bounty, plenty, and good fortune. So when China decided to issue this massive new 2.2 pound silver commemorative, the gold used to create the moon could not be just any normal gold. It had to be gold that symbolically "kissed the moon." That required some of the rarest gold in the history of the world... Gold that has actually been in outer space!
In the mid 1980s, NASA sent six large plates of 24 karat gold into space aboard the Space Shuttle. The gold, along with many other kinds of metals and materials, was installed outside of the International Space Station on a large test vehicle the size of a school bus. Called the NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), the test was designed to measure the effects of exposure to the severe condition of outer space: extreme temperatures, a constant barrage of space particles, as well as potentially dangerous meteorites. This "space gold" remained in orbit for 69 months-over ( 5 1/2 years ) in outer space. During that time, this gold traveled over 625 million miles around the earth...at a speed of five miles per second! This historic space gold was sent into orbit aboard the Challenger space shuttle, and was later brought back to earth aboard Columbia in early 1990. NASA retained the gold plates for study for the next 25 years following their return to earth. The gold was never intended to be made available to collectors. But recently, these same gold plates which had reflected the moon's light daily for over five years in orbit were brought to auction by the government. The China Mint secured this gold-arguably some of the rarest gold in history-with one sole purpose in mind: To create this spectacular 2015 Moon Festival Panda 2.2 Pound Silver & Gold Proof! Spectacular is definitely the right word, although you could certainly add in: historic, first-ever, unbelievable, and record-breaking too!
Just consider the impressive specifications of this incredible proof:
With all the focus on the space gold moon, it's easy to overlook the other side of this silver 2.2 pound proof. But that would be a mistake! You see, there's a moon-related story hiding there as well. The obverse of the 2015 Moon Festival Panda Silver & Gold Proof features the Great Wall of China. But just above the Great Wall is a circular insert paying homage to one of the world's greatest inventions. The insert depicts an ancient Chinese armillary sphere. The armillary sphere dates back to the first century B.C., and represents a model of the moon and other objects in the heavens-mapping them within a framework of rings surrounding the earth. The armillary sphere was a key part of one of China's greatest inventions: the first mechanical clock in 1092. By tying this Moon Festival commemorative silver proof to China's centuries-old history of inventions and discoveries, the China Mint has succeeded in creating a modern masterpiece with a theme as timeless as the moon itself.
There is one final secret that collectors will cheer about, and it's a single letter "Y" found on back of the proof. Y is the mint mark of the China Shenyang Mint. The 2015 Moon Festival Panda Silver & Gold Proof is the first time ever that this mint mark has appeared on any silver panda issue. The only other Panda bearing a Y mint mark is a gold panda coin issued in 1987. For collectors, this is the equivalent of the first time the West Point "W" mint mark appeared on an American silver coin. It further adds to the collectibility and scarcity of this stunning new Moon Festival Proof.
When you think about it, the space gold used to strike this 2015 Moon Festival Panda Silver & Gold Proof should actually be the most expensive gold in the world! NASA estimates that each space shuttle launch costs nearly half a billion dollars. And this space gold required TWO missions to launch and retrieve! If someone wanted to recreate the extraordinary pedigree of the space gold used for this proof, they would have to invest a billion dollars...just to recreate the gold!
Immediately after striking, each 2015 Moon Festival Panda Silver & Gold Proof was shipped directly from China to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) for certification and grading. Now, you can order a Proof 69 Ultra Cameo (PF69 UC) or Gem Proof. MCM quickly sold out of the proof 70 options, so this may be your last chance to obtain this coin! Moon Festival Panda Proofs have already been reserved for dignitaries both in Asia and the U.S. In addition, distributors from all around the world are clamoring for these spectacular Panda proofs. As the news of this historic new release spreads, demand is expected to be overwhelming.
With the 2015 Moon Festival Panda Silver & Gold Proof, the China Mint has promised eager collectors the moon...and delivered! From its massive pure silver content, to its historic ties to Chinese history and culture, to its authentic ultra-rare "space gold" moon, to its high collector grade, this 2.2 pound silver and gold proof is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any collector. It's also a treasure that you really have to see to believe.