Thursday, June 18, 2009

Endangered Species - Pandas

Like the endangered Pandas, the silver Panda coin is probably one of the most challenging series to assemble due to the rarity of some key date years. The design changes every year (except 2001 & 2002 which used the same design) and the mintage figure varies from less than 100,000 to more than 500,000 per year, as record keeping of actual mintage is somewhat inconsistent.

More info here:

My first silver Panda was "rescued" from an antique shop in Chinatown area about a month ago. I happened to walk pass the shop one afternoon and on seeing that they had some old China silver coins on display, I went in to asked if they had any silver Panda.

The shopowner, an elderly man in his 70's, told me he has only got 1 piece. He showed me a 1994 1 oz silver Panda in a capsule, still sealed in the original mint plastic. However, on closer examination, I realised that part of the capsule had cracked and a small section had actually chipped off, leaving an expose air hole around a section of the capsule rim.

I had no idea than how much a 1994 silver Panda is worth since I don't have any in my collection. But I do know the average market value of a silver Panda is around $50-$60 for non-key date. The shopowner made me an offer of $50. Using the "chipped" capsule as a bargaining "chip", I managed to get him to part with it for $40 :p

Getting home, I immediately went online to find out the market value of my first 1 oz silver Panda and learned that 1994 was a low mintage year with an average selling price of $100 a piece currently! I got a real bargain indeed!

Here 's the Panda I "rescued"...

My immediate dilemma upon getting this Panda home was whether I should transfer it to a new capsule or keep it this way.

Transferring would mean removing it from the original mint seal state which might reduce its value. However, there is already some light toning around the coin rim near the crack due to air exposure. It might get worst over time.

I eventually decided to transfer it to a new capsule as the sight of the cracked capsule and the toning is annoying. So here it is now snuggly fitted in a new capsule together with a few other Pandas which I acquired subsequently to keep it company :)

And here's something I learned about "fake Pandas"(its China so no surprise), which make silver Panda collecting even more interesting!

"In order to prevent counterfeit, China Mints made few subtle changes in the design of the temple (obverse) for different dates. Three rows of circular rock fence of the walkway on the both sides of stairway of temple have different number of posts for each row.

For example, for genuine coins, there are six posts in the bottom row for the period of 1983-1985, 5 posts for the period of 1987-1991, 4 posts for the period of 1992-2001, and 3 posts for the period of 2002-2006.

All counterfeits, based on the pictures at ebay, have 3 or 4 posts in the bottom row. Starting 2002, drawings were added to the divider of the stairway in genuine coins, while the counterfeit coins may have a smooth surface.

In summary, those coins with 4 posts in the bottom row for years between 1983-1991 and 2002-2006 are counterfeit.

Those coins with 3 posts for years between 1983-2001 are counterfeit. Those coins with 4 posts, between 1992-2001 may need further examination by comparing pictures with genuine coins as outlined in 3, 4, and 5.

All pandas, prior to 2002, with drawings on the surface of the center divider of the stairway, and after 2002, a smooth surface, are counterfeit.

There are other design changes made by China Mints for different years, such as, the door to the temple and the number of the beams on top of the door. The counterfeit coins do not match those design changes.

There are no 1982, 1986 and 1988 1 oz silver pandas issued by China Mint as suggested by the sellers of counterfeit coins."


  1. Well done! The 1994 Silver Panda is definitely a bargain. Package it back into a capsule, it'll probably fetch S$70-80 based on Jun 09 average transacted prices for BU capsule 'large date' panda. I always have dilemma whether to buy Silver Pandas that are none double sealed. Cos I've seen 'raw' ie without capsule or sealed bag, similar 1990 panda going for around S$45 excl ship. Looks like we have common interest in Panda and Britannia.

  2. Hi Aurum, thks for the comment.

    It seems like the 2009 Pandas are no longer double seal and comes only capsules. Not sure if this is the trend going forward.

    Here's the latest from China mint in case you have not heard, they are minting a 30th anniversary commemorative, same design as the 2009.

    More here:


  3. There hasn't been double seal since 2006. Thanks for the news. I sure haven't read it but too many commemorative versions of panda, and I have too little cash. 2006 alone has 5 commemorative versions. So I had better stick to BUs. Cos BUs alone, there are already 2 versions for each year from 1990-98. I've just begun writing about pandas:

  4. I see that you have a couple of gold Pandas too, nice!

  5. Your guide to identifying fake panda chinese coins was very informative. But the sad part is I bid and won an auction and then happen to come across your guide. I won a 1991 5 ounce .999 silver panda chinese coin from a seller on ebay for $76 + $10 shipping (less than the bullion value). The seller has a feedback rating of 26. The Item number: 180494321148 . The listing also has the images of both the sides of the coin. I suspect the coin to be counterfeit as there is no denomination of 50 yuan on the coin. Can you please check and confirm whether it is a genuine or a counterfeit coin? I haven't made payment to the seller so far. If it is a counterfeit what remedy do I have against the seller ? I am prety new to ebay



  6. The missing 50 yuan immediately tell you that this is a fake.

    You don't need to pay for this item if you don't want it. If the seller file a claim against you, just inform ebay that he is selling fake coins which violates ebay's rules unless he specfically indicate on his listing that its a replica, which he did not.

    Hope this helps. Cheers!

  7. Thanks a lot. I will ask the seller to cancel the transaction as I had bid on the coin assuming he was selling a real 5 ounce coin and not a replica. If he does not agree and files a claim against me I will follow your advice.



  8. Hello Guys,

    I'm a recent fan of the Silver Panda and I'm finding the present market is full of crooks trying to sell fake coins. Perhaps some of them were dudded themselves originally. They trade both legitimately on eBay & illegally on other sites such as iOffer etc. I just purchased 10 2010 coins at what I considered a fair price spot + around 15%. Seller gave his word they were genuine, showed detailed pics of genuine ly identifiable coins then sent me fakes. Of course now they are genuinely concerned (Of course) let's see if they can resolve the situation.

  9. Can you send me pictures of the fake 2010 Pandas that you received?