The Royal Mint celebrates Lunar Year of the Sheep

19 Feb 2015

As part of the celebrations for Chinese New Year, The Royal Mint has created a new design to mark the Lunar Year of the Sheep, the second issue in the hugely successful Shēngxiào Collection.

Following on from the popularity of the Year of the Horse design, which was the first ever United Kingdom lunar design made by The Royal Mint, the latest coin in The Shēngxiào Collection lends a uniquely British angle to an ancient Chinese tradition. The coins are the perfect way to wish good luck for the year ahead to its recipients.

British Chinese artist and printmaker Wuon-Gean Ho, who designed the 2014 Year of the Horse coin for The Royal Mint, continues the collection with a design that once again draws inspiration from both her British and Chinese heritage. The Year of the Sheep coin is the second in this auspicious series and its design reflects characteristics of those born in the year of the sheep: freedom-loving with a passion for company.

The design artfully uses symbolic elements to create a fusion of Chinese and British heritage. Blending the Chinese symbol with imagery of the distinctive Yorkshire Swalendale sheep, the intricate details of the design highlight its beautiful smooth curled horns in contrast to the swirls of their wool coats.

The design will feature on a number of different coins which range from 999.9 fine gold to gold-plated, and 999 fine silver. The range includes a Tenth-ounce Gold Brilliant Uncirculated Coin, a One Ounce Gold-Plated Proof Coin, a One Ounce Gold Proof Coin, and a Five Ounce Gold Proof Coin.  In silver, the range includes the One Ounce Silver Proof Coin and Five Ounce Silver Proof Coin.

Each coin is supplied in bold red packaging, reflecting centuries of Chinese tradition, with a beautifully-designed booklet that reveals the customs that inspired the artist and her blend of both Chinese and British heritage.
All coins in the range are limited, with mintages ending in the number ‘8’ thought to be lucky in Chinese culture. The coin range starts from RRP £82.50 for the One Ounce Silver Proof Coin.

The Royal Mint’s Lunar coin series reflects the Shēngxiào tradition, linking each year to one of 12 animals and their traits, which are attributed to those born in a given Lunar year. Celebrated in February, it is a time during which it is traditional to exchange tokens, particularly gifts of money in red envelopes, symbolising good wishes for the recipient’s health, wealth and prosperity.

Shane Bissett, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint said: “Following on from the hugely popular Year of the Horse coins range, of which three quarters were sold out in the first few months, The Royal Mint is happy to be bringing its craftsmanship and artistic skills to this latest coin in the Shēngxiào Collection. Supporting the centuries-old tradition of giving zodiac coins at the Lunar New Year, we’re expecting to see similar demand this year for Wuon Gean’s stunning design.”

Designer of the Year of the Sheep coin Wuon-Gean Ho says “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.  I recall observing sheep as part of the British landscape – in the grounds of Blenheim palace, on the hillsides of the Peak district and in the rolling Brecon Beacons. My memories of the lambing season and the close bond created between mother and child was particularly helpful in capturing the passion for company symbolised by the Year of the Sheep.”

The second design in The Shēngxiào Collection is available to order from www.royalmint.com

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