Features > Chinese Panda Coins

supply and demand of gold panda coins

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Some basic information:

The gold proof panda program started in 1986 and ended in 1996. The key ones are 1992  set (mintage 806), 1994 set (mintage 854) and the single one oz with different design 1995 (mintage 555) and 1996. (mintage based on Mr. Ge’s information)

BU panda program started in 1982 and it is ongoing.  The basic mintage information can reference the data published by china mint in 2007. Some key ones in each size:
1/20 oz: 1983,1998,2000
1/10 oz: 1998,2002,2006
¼ oz:     1995,1998,1999
½ oz:     1994,1995,1996,1998
1 oz:      1982,1994,1995,1996,1998

One difference is that BU panda program is continuing and proof panda program stopped.  In China, still most the people even don’t know the exist of gold panda coins, so you can guess how many people can tell the difference between a proof panda and a BU panda.  If new buyers bought some 2020 BU panda coins, some of them might be interested in the previous ones, like the 2019, 2018, etc. and then maybe the earlier ones if they are really interested. Proof buyers normally require more knowledge on panda coins.

Sometimes I compare the proof pandas with 12 oz gold pandas, similar situation. Is 12 oz gold panda rare? Yes. The 84, the 91 to 95, specially the 94. Are there a lot buyers? Maybe not. Regular buyers buy regular BU pandas, advanced buyers might choose 5 oz gold, some super rich buyers might choose kilo gold pandas which are all ongoing programs. Only few high end collectors would buy the 12 oz gold panda sets.

So go back to proof pandas, entry level buyers more like to buy BU pandas, high end collectors might prefer to buy culture related coins, the demand for proof pandas maybe not that strong.

The coins bring us to this topic are the 94 ½ and 94 proof ½ oz. If I have to choose one for my long term collection, I’m 100% sure will choose the NGC69 proof panda. But If for short term investment, I may choose the NGC69 BU panda.  Is 94 proof ½ a better coin for collection, I think so. But if you check the current market price, my dealer friends are buying BU NGC69 at $6000-6500 range, and paying $4500-5000 for proof NGC69.

Another good example is 95 ½ and 95 proof. 95 ½ is the No.1 BU panda coin needed for the master set right now and 95 proof in my opinion is the best small panda coin—beautiful design with 555 mintage. For collection, 95 proof is way way better. But check the current market price. My dealer friends are paying $15000-$16000 for the 95 ½ NGC69. You want to sell a 95 proof NGC69 at same price? Not a chance, maybe around half of that.

Why? Because the demand is different. BU panda coins got promoted by the master set sales, no such kind of program for proof pandas. For the past 10 years also, master set program is the key to push up the gold BU panda prices, without this program, the BU pandas maybe still highly gold content related.

Will it be possible a proof gold panda program in the future? I highly doubt it. I and Robert Mish, spent long time to persuade some of the dealer friends to assemble proof sets, none wants to do that. To start a program, you have expense.  You need to do advertisement and set up your distribution channel. Also, you need to have your products ready to sell. Even if you want to sell proof master sets, can you find enough 92 set, 94 set? 95, 96 1 oz?  Absolutely not. You are not selling one master set or two master sets—it’s not a program. You want to sell at least 50-100 master sets for a longer period.  The only thing I can think about is that partial sets could be possible—like from 86-90, a five-year sets program.

You may also say that use the proofs for the BU master sets. Till now, I don’t hear from any of my dealer friends or gift companies using proofs to replace BU ones. I have asked them many times during the past years and the answer was always no. Will it happen in the future? Who knows. But it’s possible. I think if they really can’t find the BU coins in the future or the price difference between the BU and proofs are two big, say more than double, they might use the proofs. But even that happens, it won’t apply to all the proofs, it will only happen to the very few key ones like the 94 ½ and the 90 ½.

There are not so many collectors for the proofs. You may disagree. Let me give you another example so you may understand easily. The BU panda rare version. I think as a panda coin buyer, maybe it will be easy for you to buy a different version of the BU panda than to buy a proof set. We know most pandas have more than one version because they were made at different mint companies.  We know 98 LD is a better version and we know 00 mirror one is a better version. If my memory is right, the 98 ½ LD NGC69 coins were sold around $15k while at the same time the SD NGC69 coins were sold around $5000 to 6000.  The 00 ½ mirror NGC69 were sold around $8000 while the frosted ones were sold around $2000 maybe? Look at the current price, there is almost no premium between the two versions. Why? The 98 LD and 00 mirror are definitely among the best versions of BU panda coins, with its tiny mintage, there is still not enough collector’s buying power to support the price. For those dealers who assemble the master set, rare version means nothing to them. At the beginning, once they got rare version, they exchanged it with a common version plus some cash. But now with no premium, they just use whatever they get. The common version ones were used up and hard to find now, but the rare version ones can’t find the collector’s support and have to go to the master sets as well.

Now move to BU panda coins. BU pandas normally has more mintage compare with the proof ones. But master set program used a lot of BU coins. For the proof pandas, collectors are the major buyers. If they don’t want to keep it, they sell it back to the market. So it’s always in the collectors circle, not so many leave the market. But for master sets, they were sold to buyers outside of the collectors circle, they left the market, they disappeared and they are gone for a long time. So even with a bigger mintage, the demand is strong and always need new coins to supply.

So can you just accumulate some key coins and hike the price? I think so, as long as the demand is still there. Are there risks? Of course yes. The program can be terminated by any reason, temperately or permanently. Without these programs, the BU panda prices will drop. The BU panda prices are highly related to the master sets sales. Also, the key coins sometime varied. My dealer friends who assemble master sets used to tell me” if you can find this coin for me, I will be able to assemble a whole master set”. These kind of “the only coin needed” include 94 ½, 95 ¼, 95 ½, 97 ½, 98 ½, 02 1/10, 03 ½, at different time period. The surprise among these is the 02 1/10. That year, someone paid a TV program to promote 1/10 and 1/20 oz gold panda master sets. It went well and sales were very strong. So a lot of 1/10 were isolated from the year set to assemble its own size master set. 02 1/10 could not be found enough to supply both 1 1/10 set and whole master set. The price moved from $400 level to $3000 level. 06 1/10 also did pretty well for the same reason. When the sales down, the prices dropped.  The 02 1/10 price  dropped to the $400 level last year and now I think in the $800 level. 95 ½ is the current key one, the most wanted. It started at $3000 level years ago, and went to around $30k at the peak, dropped to $7k-8k level and now around $16k. I know there were other factors behind the first price jump at $3000 level years ago, but now the demand is still strong. Can it go back to $30k level? If gold price is keep going up and master sets program goes well, it is possible. But it’s kind of risky. All the buyers I know at this price level are the end users who are using the coin to form master sets, no investors, nor collectors. I would spend the same amount of money to buy two 95 proof pandas and I will be happy and sleep well.

Besides whole master sets program, there are other gold panda programs. I spent years to persuade the main gift company to restart the 1/10 and 1/20 oz program and the new 1 oz program. My theory is in the future, the gold price might be really high and some half oz and ¼ oz will be super tough to find. If they can do the 1 oz and 1 /10 master set program, the cost will be much lower, the supply will be much better and it will fit different levels of buyers. Now they have 1 oz gold and silver program, 1/10 program, 1/20 program and master sets programs. The master sets program is still the best seller.

That’s all the information for now. I just wrote what I thought and it’s really not well organized. I usually don’t write this long here at the forum. I think the last long one I wrote was about the 1989 dragon and phoenix long time ago. If you like it and think it’s useful, I am happy; if you don’t like it and think it’s useless, I am sorry to waste your time. No matter you agree or disagree with me, I respect you. Different people has different vision and different opinions. I don’t want to convince anyone, I just want to express my own thoughts and only represent myself.

The only suggestion I can give is if possible, boost your connections. Try to talk to the top dealers here and also the high end collectors. That will help you. The time you bought a coin for 10 dollars and sold it to China for 100 bulks is long gone. You need to act before the market, this requires your vision, your judgment which based on the information you can get.

I am lucky that I have been collecting MCC for more than 20 years. I’m lucky that I have chance to connect with all major US dealers who deal with chinese coins. I’m lucky that I have good connection with almost all key dealers in China and I’m lucky that I know most of the high end MCC collectors in China. Once you have all these, you learn from each other and you know some inside information. I can ask questions like:

Do you know last year, China mint spent 800 million RMB to do gold panda advertisement on a high speed rail train and that helped the market a lot?
Do you know roughly how many master sets were sold each of the past years?
Do you know how many 95,96,97 5 oz bi metal panda coins are still in the China mint?
Do you know there is a 1988 platinum panda LD version which is a pattern of two known?
Do you know the 87 no P version and 92 high 2 version are experimental trials and should never be released to the public?

I can probably ask another 50-100 these kind of questions that I know the answer and you may not. But, so what, who cares! We are MCC collectors. No matter we are old, we are young, we are rich, we are poor, coin collecting is our hobby. The money you earn from it is limited, but the joy, the happiness you get from it is priceless and last forever.

Enjoy the weekend, enjoy coin collecting and enjoy life, specially in the middle of this tough 2020.

 :thumbup: N18 :thumbup: N18

Storm, you need to make more long posts here.    We are all hungry for information and you have the experience and connections.

It seems the US collectors understand coins better than Chinese due to the rare US coin market that has been around for over 40 yrs.      Chinese were not allowed to buy gold/silver until about 2003 or about 17 yrs.    (I have never collected coins, just bullion until i found this forum.)   
Will educating more Chinese help?     Internet education is free.    I agree that gold/silver will roar in price soon so coins will be in big demand.    The market will change permanently.

Popular and hot coins get all the attention today.    The Proofs and other Chinese w/ low mintage & low NGC pop are often ignored but that will change as the market matures.     The wise are positioning themselves by buying the rare under the radar today.   

Keep posting here and providing more information!

Hi Storm, it would be very much appreciated if you could tell us the answer to this question “Do you know roughly how many master sets were sold each of the past years?“.

Hi storm,

 N40 i enjoyed reading your thread! Thank you for your insights!

I got a question, too and i do hope, somebody got an answer:

What grades are accepted in mastersets?

I am not a big grader, but this might give me a chance to understand, what condition is acceptable and which isn`t (just refering to the mastersets).
You said, the company checks them carefully, which is good. I guess, once they get graded coins, they can easily go by the grade, right? That`s why i am asking... just to get a roughly idea...

Many Greetings,
wittu  N48


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