Friday, October 09, 2009

Red Spots on Gold Panda Coins

One of the most frequently asked questions is: Does the Panda have any red spots?

The red spots that sometimes appear on gold pandas and other gold coins are the result of very small amounts on impurities on or near the surface of the coin that oxidize over time. Although Panda gold coins are 99.9% pure gold, the 0.1% is responsible for the red spots. These impurities can get on the coin from the die or other tooling used to make the coins, or there could be impurities in the gold that gather near the surface. The impurities may not be visible when the coins leave the mint, but exposure to oxygen over time can make the the impurities oxidize and change color.

Are Red Spots Bad?
Red spots are the subject of some debate among collectors and coin grading experts. The major coin grading services like PCGS and NGC consider the spots to be "toning" which is generally not a major factor in determining the grade of a coin. The spots are not considered a defect or damage. Therefore, the measles-like coin at left could grade MS69.

Many Panda collectors, however, try to avoid coins with spots like, well, like the plague! Spots are present on coins still in the mint plastic, especially after they are several years old. To make matters worse, they can be hard to see through older mint plastic sleeves which are not adequate to protect the coins over years. The only way to avoid the spots is to look at the coin carefully before you buy it, and then make sure it stays in a sealed holder away from heat and humidity.

When buying online, make sure listing includes pictures that are clear enough to show any spots, and don't be afraid to ask the seller or dealer if there are spots on the coin. Mint sealed coins often have spots and it can be hard to see through the plastic, so we recommend buying certified coins where the condition of the coin is clearly visible through the optical quality plastic holder.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chinese TV Promotes Gold and Silver Ownership

Chinese promotion of gold as an investment can only help to increase demand for relatively scarce Gold Panda Coins.

Author: Lawrence Williams
Posted: Thursday , 03 Sep 2009

LONDON - We are indebted again to Paul Mylchreest's Thunder Road Report for news that will bring big smiles to gold and silver investors everywhere. Apparently China is pushing the idea of buying gold and silver for investment purposes to the general population in the way that Western television sells soap powder. If 1.3 billion Chinese citizens start buying gold and silver, even in tiny quantities, imagine what that will do to the market!

The report notes that China's Central Television, the main state-owned television company, has run a news programme letting the public know how easy it is to buy precious metals as an investment. On silver investment the announcer is quoted as saying, "China has introduced its first ever investment opportunity for silver bullion. The bars are available in 500g, 1kg, 2kg and 5kg with a purity of 99.9%. Figures show that gold was fifty times more expensive than silver in 2007, but now that figure has reached over seventy times. Analysts say that silver has been undervalued in recent years. They add that the metal is the right investment for individual investors and could be a good way to cash in."

What appears to have happened in China is a total relaxation of strictures on holding precious metals by the individual with the government pushing gold and silver as an investment option, seemingly at every opportunity. This is a far cry from the situation only a few years ago where the distribution of gold and silver was strictly controlled. Now, the Thunder Road Report notes that every bank will sell gold and silver bullion bars in four different sizes to individuals and gold-related investments are said to be soaring in popularity.

Hong Kong is pulling all its physical gold holdings from London

Recent news items suggest that China is making moves to reposition physical gold within its economic system.

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Hong Kong is pulling all its physical gold holdings from depositories in London, transferring them to a high-security depository newly built at the city's airport, in a move that won praise from local traders Thursday.

The facility, industry professionals said, would support Hong Kong's emergence as a Swiss-style trading hub for bullion and would lessen London's status as a key settlement-and-storage center.

"Having a central government-sponsored vault would create a situation where you could conceivably look at Hong Kong as being a hub, where metal could be traded for the region," said Sunil Kashyap, managing director at Scotia Capital in Hong Kong, adding that the facility was the first with official government backing in the region.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which functions as the territory's unofficial central bank, will transfer its gold reserves stored in other vaults to the depository later this year, the Hong Kong government said in an earlier statement.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chinese Gold Panda Proof Coins: Fact vs Hype

When browsing the web for modern gold coins, you will likely encounter sellers who proclaim their offerings to have qualities such as "Mint", "Brilliant", or "Proof". These terms are often thrown around improperly and can lead to a bit of confusion. Here are some clarifications with regard to the Chinese Panda coin series.

A "Mint", "Mint-state", or "MS" coin is simply a coin that is uncirculated and preserved in the condition it was in when it left the mint. This is no assurance that the coin is shiny and clean. Mint State coins may have been stored in bags with other coins where they received "bag-mark" scratches from other coins. An issuing mint may or may not have good quality controls, and dies can become worn and damaged. The standard coin grading scale reserves the grades MS60-MS70 for these coins. MS60 can be beat-up looking and MS70 is essentially perfection.

"Brilliant Uncirculated" or "BU" is a standard issue coin that is in Mint State. This is usually the mass-produced version of a coin. This term is often used to distinguish a coin from "Proof" versions of the same coin that may have been issued.

"Proof" coins are specially produced coins that are usually made with highly polished dies and struck multiple times. Quality control is generally higher and the coins are typically sold with collectors in mind. Contrary to many offerings on the web, a proof coin is not just a clean shiny example of a BU coin!

The Chinese Panda coins are very attractive coins which often have a mirror finish contrasted with frosted elements, however, the majority of the Pandas are not proofs. In fact, the Pandas are so nice looking, that most of the genuine proof issues have a "P" mark on the obverse to identify it as the proof version.

1986-P Proof

Among the 1oz Gold Pandas, the following are the only proofs issued:

1oz Gold Panda Proofs

Date and P mark Official Mintage Limit
1986-P 10,000
1987-P 10,000
1988-P 8,000
1989-P 9,000
1990-P 5,000
1991-P 3,500
1992-P 2,000
1995 2,000
1996 1,500

From 1986-1996 proof sets were issued. except for 1993 and 1994, these were 5-coin sets with a 1oz and fractionals 1/2, 1/4, 1/10, and 1/20 ounce. In 1993 and 1994, the largest coin in the set was a bimetallic gold-silver 50Y coin - no 1oz was issued.

1986-1992 the proof coins have the exact same design as the BU coin, except for the P mark on the Panda side of the proof versions. If there is no "P", its not a proof. In 1995 and 1996, the proof have a different design than the BU coins, making them easy to distiguish.

In addition to the 1oz and fractional proofs, there are jumbo size Pandas in 5oz, 12oz, and 1kg sizes that were issued as proofs in many years. I have not covered those here, but you can browse a good Chinese coin database at for more info.

So be advised that there are many mis-labelled, improperly advertised, and even incorrectly certified proof pandas. I have seen NGC certified PF proof Pandas from years in which proofs were not issued. PCGS has not made the same mistake to my knowledge.

The Panda proofs are especially attractive to collectors dues to their low mintages as well as their beauty. All of the proofs have mintages of 10,000 or less. With the 1996 being the rarest at only 1500 coins!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2009 Panda Coin Mintage Limits Reached

The word from the coin dealer network is that 2009 mintage limits of the gold and silver pandas coins have been reached. Each year, China Gold Coin Inc (CGCI) designates a limit on how many Panda coins will be produced and sold for that mintage year. Due to the strong demand from the market, as of April 2009 those limits have been reached.

This means that no more 2009 Pandas will be coming into the market from CGCI. Dealer stock is the only remaining source, but as that is consumed, price premiums can be expected to rise.

Published 2009 Mintage Limits
1oz Gold: 160,000
1/2oz Gold: 60,000
1/4oz Gold: 60,000
1/10oz Gold: 100,000
1/20oz Gold: 100,000

1oz Silver: 600,000