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Perth Mint to close Lunar Series

(The Perth Mint Lunar Series closed the last week of August.  The last coins ordered are being minted and should be distributed sometime in October.  It is expected that The Mint will announce the mintages of all the Lunar Series coins in February 2008.  The Lunar Series was one of the most well received coins offerings in decades.

Presently, most of the 1-oz Gold Lunar coins, the most popular of the Lunar Series, carry premiums over the standard gold bullion coins such as the American Gold Eagles.  Premiums on the coins vary according to availability.   Two coins,  year 2000 1-oz Gold Dragon and the year 2002 1-oz Gold Horse, have picked up the biggest premiums in the collector market.

CMIGS sometimes has inventories of some of  the Lunar gold coins coins.  We have most of the Lunar Series 1-oz silver coins.  Call for prices.

CMIGS has learned that The Perth Mint soon will announce that it will cease production of its popular Lunar Series coins, both the gold coins and the silver coins. With the year 2007 Pig coins now available, all twelve coins in the Lunar Series have now been minted and the Series is complete. The announcement should put collectors scrambling to complete their sets.

Tentative plans call for The Perth Mint to accept orders for all the Lunar Series coins through June 30, 2007. Orders received by the deadline will be minted in July and August. After the final coins are shipped, The Mint will then destroy the dies and announce the mintages of all the coins.

The success of the Lunar Series is a tribute to both the quality of the coins produced at the The Perth Mint and the popularity of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. No more beautiful and exquisite coins are minted anywhere, and nearly every adult knows his or her Lunar Calendar birth year.

The success of the Lunar Series can also be attributed to the fact that The Perth Mint priced the Lunar Series gold coins at bullion coins prices. Many mints turn out collector coins with huge markups, but The Perth Mint chose to make the Lunar Series gold coins competitive with American Gold Eagles, the best-selling gold bullion coins in the world.

Offering the Lunar Series gold coins at low prices attracted bullion coin investors, many of whom saw the beauty of the coins and became collectors. Pricing the Lunar Series gold coins at bullion coin prices also resulted in three of the 1-oz gold coins, the 2000 Dragon, the 2001 Snake, and the 2006 Horse, reaching the production cap of 30,000. Now, the Lunar Series coins that have not reached the 30,000-coin cap will be “capped” at the number sold through June. Closing the Series will present an interesting situation for collectors.

Originally, CMIGS had thought that each coin would be produced until the coin for that year rolled around again. For example, the Year of the Rat (1996 in the Series) will cycle again in 2008. So, we thought that the year 1996 Rats would be produced until The Mint began production of the 2008 Rats. But, that is not to be. Production of all Lunar Series coins will end this summer, and it presents an interesting-and perhaps quite profitable-situation.

Although The Mint will be producing year 2008 Rats come September, it will not be producing any other coins associated with the Lunar Calendar until those years roll around. This means that anyone wanting, say a Perth Mint Lunar Tiger, will have to buy the coin in the secondary market or wait until 2010 when the next Year of the Tiger arrives. Buyers wanting a Year of the Dog coin will have to buy it in the secondary market or wait until 2020 when the next Year of the Dog comes around.

Until the June 30, the year 2006 1-oz Gold Dogs will still be available at new 1-oz Gold Eagle prices. And, the other coins still being minted will be available at only 1% higher, which essentially means that now all 1-oz Lunar Series gold coins are available at bullion coins prices. Practically, though, investors and collectors wanting additional Lunar Series coins should not wait until the last minute to order as the ordering process from Australia can be cumbersome.

In the years ahead as gold rises above $1000-and at CMIGS we are confident it will-we do not know if collectors will continue to put premiums on the Lunar Series 1-oz gold coins. Gold above $1000 will put a whole new perspective on coin collecting.

However, with all the other 1-oz Lunar Series gold coins essentially available at bullion coin prices, buying them appears to be an attractive investment for investors who can hold on for a two or three years.

In two or three years, the gold price should be much higher, making gold purchases at present price levels profitable. So, going with the 1-oz Lunar Series gold coins, which collectors prefer, gives investors two ways to profit: from an increase in the price of gold and potentially from collectors continuing to put premiums the coins.

Officially, The Perth Mint now calls the 1996-2007 Lunar Series coins its First Series. Lunar coins beginning with 2008 Rats will begin a Second Series. However, the coins in the Second Series probably will be quite different from the First Series coins.

Whereas the First Series 1-oz coins are 32.10 mm in diameter and 2.80 mm thick, for the Second Series The Mint is looking at a diameter of 38 mm and a thickness less than 1.8 mm, which is close in size to the 1-oz Austrian Philharmonic. The dimensions change means there will be no confusing the First Series coins with Second Series coins, and, of course, there will be the differences in the dates.