The colored proofs issued in 1997, 98 and 99 are a very interesting and popular subset of pandas. The three one ounce coins have a total authorized mintage of 100,000 per year (300,000 total) and the half ounce mintages are also 100,000 per year. This means that the one ounce colored panda total is greater than the combined authorized mintages for all other proof silver pandas (12 coins 199,000 total authorized).

So all other things being equal we should see 3 colorized one ounce proof for sale for every 2 non colorized proofs, right? For some reason it hasn`t been that way for a long time. At this moment there are 6 colored one ouncers available (2 ungraded and 4 graded) and 44 (24 ungraded and 20 graded) total non colored proofs. What gives? Are the actual mintages of the colored proofs significantly less than the authorized amount or are these coins seriously hoarded because f their unique colorizing feature? Yet prices don`t seem to reflect this lack of market supply.

There are several interesting non traditional features about these coins They are the only colored one ounce and one half ounce proof/uncirculated pandas. They are the only proof years which are identical in design to their twin uncirculated varieties not to contain the "P" (the coloring apparently serves as the differentiating factor). They are also the only proof/uncirculated silver pandas (ounce and half ounce) until 2006 not to be individually double sealed.

Which leads to the next question of why there were no double seals. Were the coins struck in proof quality at the mint and then sent to Europe (Germany?) the the colorization? Who actually colored the coins and what was the process used? If the coins were exported for coloring were they then distributed from that site without being returned to the mint for the soft outer seal?

And while we`re at it why would the mint have decided not to produce a half once in 1999 to complete the set?