Chinese communities celebrate New Year with first ever UK Lunar coins

31 Jan 2014

Thousands of people across Wales will mark the Chinese New Year this week by continuing the ancient tradition of giving money – with the addition of a very modern British twist.

This is the first time that people have had the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year with a limited edition collection of United Kingdom legal tender Lunar coins, and more than 60% have already been snapped up for the festivities. 

The Shēngxiào Collection, named in honour of the Chinese zodiac, are the first-ever UK Lunar coins to be produced by The Royal Mint in Llantrisant.  The coins include a striking equestrian themed design and have been issued in denominations incorporating the lucky number eight to celebrate the 2014 Lunar Year of the Horse.

More than 8,000 of the limited edition coins have been sold, with more than 70% being purchased by members of Chinese communities in Britain, and a One Ounce Silver Proof Coin costing £82.50 proving to be the most popular Lunar coin for customers. More than 600 of the One Ounce Gold Proof Coin, retailing at £1,950.00, have been sold.

LunarThe stunning new coin design features a powerful leaping horse, and in the background an image of the famous Uffington White Horse, a pre-historic horse figure carved into the chalk hills of Oxfordshire, combining elements from both British and Chinese heritage.  British Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho, whose many disciplines include printmaking, animation, performance and artist’s books, was specially commissioned by The Royal Mint to create the dynamic and unique design for the new coin.   

The design features on a range of precious metal coins, made from either 999.9 fine gold or in 999 fine silver, and includes a Tenth-ounce Gold Brilliant Uncirculated Coin, a One Ounce Gold Proof Coin and a One Ounce Gold Bullion coin.  In silver, there is the One Ounce Silver Proof Coin, a Five Ounce Silver Proof Coin and a One Ounce Silver Bullion Coin. 

Prices range from £82.50 for the Silver One Ounce Proof Coin through to £1,950 for the One Ounce Gold Proof Coin.

Designer of the first coin in the series, Wuon-Gean Ho said, “I wanted the design to draw upon my British and Chinese heritage, as my parents are from Malaysia and Singapore and I was raised in the UK. Although I am involved in the arts now, studying anatomy and closely observing animals for my degree in Veterinary Medicine was good training for this project. The Uffington Horse is part of Britain’s history as well as mine, as I grew up in Oxfordshire close to this famous chalk monument.”
 
Shane Bissett, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint added, “The Royal Mint has celebrated moments of national and cultural significance for over 1,000 years.  Given our own lengthy heritage, we felt we were uniquely placed to apply our craftsmanship, British style and artistic skills to another centuries-old tradition, that of giving zodiac coins at the Lunar New Year.
 
“We have been thrilled with the interest and support that members of the Chinese community  have shown the new range, and hope that our Lunar coins will become the perfect way to wish luck and prosperity to a loved one, to continue the tradition of exchanging gifts at the Lunar New Year or to simply spark an interesting collection.”