We’ve all heard of the zodiac, and have probably on more than one occasion checked our daily horoscope in the hope it will reveal what the future holds. When I sat down to write this blog I was buoyant in the revelation that my day was going to be “filled with love and joy”.
But perhaps lesser known in Western culture is the Chinese Lunar Calendar and the 12 animals that represent it.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar
More commonly known as the Chinese Zodiac, it is believed the Chinese Lunar Calendar begun around 2600 B.C. and is related to the worship of animals in Chinese culture. Legend has it before departing to the next life, Buddha asked every animal on the planet to comfort him and the twelve animals (including the dragon, tiger and rat) that responded are now honoured in the lunar calendar that spans 12 years – one animal for every year.
Much like the Western Zodiac, your lunar animal sign depends when you’re born. And people born in specific lunar years are believed to have certain personality traits and characteristics related to their animal.
Turns out I was born in the Year of the Sheep – so I’m creative, compassionate and friendly. I’d say that’s fairly accurate, though I’m not sure I agree that I like to spend my money on fashionable things… you win some you lose some!
The incredible popularity of Lunar Coins
For over 40 years mints from around the world have celebrated Chinese New Year with Lunar Coins. These issues have turned in to something of an international phenomenon, to the point where the lunar theme is the largest ongoing coin programme on the planet.
Most prestigious mints have a lunar series, including Australia, Canada, and of course our own Royal Mint. With each selling millions of ounces of gold and silver coins each year inscribed with the year’s relevant lunar animal.
Collectors will snap these coins up for a variety of reasons. Some collect their own lunar animal, because they like the personal connection, others will collect a particular specification because it’s especially limited. Personally, I find they also make great birthday gifts for obvious reasons – my friends love them.
The Year of the Rat
The 25th January 2020 will mark the Chinese New Year, and with it the next lunar animal will be celebrated – the Rat.
The Rat is in fact the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac, and people who are born under the sign of the Rat are thought to be intelligent and quick-witted with rich imaginations.
If this sounds like you the odds are you’re born under the sign of the Rat. And this year your lunar animal will be celebrated on lunar coins around the world.
What’s more, The Royal Mint has just released their brand new Year of the Rat range, including what’s perhaps the most sought-after specification of all – the 1oz Silver Proof Coin.
Apparently Rats are known for taking good advantage of opportunities presented to them – so what are you waiting for, make sure you snap up your lunar coin today!
If you’re interested…
You can own the BRAND NEW Royal Mint Lunar Coin TODAY – the 1oz Silver Proof Year of the Rat coin.
This coin is sure to be the most sought-after yet because not only is the 1oz Silver Proof a key specification for collectors, it’s also got the lowest edition limit yet!
If you own the 2014 Year of the Horse Lunar Silver Coin or the 2014 Britannia coin, I suggest you go and dig them out before you read any more. That’s because it’s just possible that you are sitting on something rather unusual – a Royal Mint “mule”.
A “mule” is a coin where the one of the sides has been struck with the wrong die. And that’s what happened with some of the Royal Mint’s 2014 Year of the Horse and Britannia coins.
Officially confirmed by the Royal Mint
It seems attention was first drawn to the matter when a US dealer noticed that some of their Britannia coins had a different obverse (heads) side to the rest of the stock, lacking the denticle design around the edge, normally seen with Britannia coins.
The Royal Mint has now acknowledged the error, which has resulted in approximately 17,000 Britannia coins being struck with the non-denticled Year of the Horse obverse and 38,000 Year of the Horse coins having the denticled Britannia version as their obverse.
Selling for 250 times its original value
Perhaps the best recent example of a UK mule in recent years was the undated 20p coin, which was uncovered in 2008. Approximately 250,000 20p coins were struck using an old obverse design, which left them undated. The news was followed by a media frenzy with many millions of people searching their change in the hope finding what was to prove to be a valuable error. Indeed an undated 20p currently changes hands on ebay for around £50 – 250 times its original value.
So what of these latest Royal Mint errors? Unlike the 20p these are not general circulation coins but as bullion coin they will have been sold around the world to coin dealers and investors. That means that they will be much harder for the British general public to track down. Plus, of course, in terms of pure numbers struck, they are considerably scarcer than the undated 20p.
Early listings on ebay have been as high as £500 and above, so if you are lucky enough to own either the 2014 Britannia or Year of the Horse coins, I would definitely dig them out and take a look – it might be your lucky day.