Complete Lunar Cycle Set in Platinum

In our August Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio Hong Kong Showcase Auction we are excited to offer an extensive selection of modern Chinese coins, including a complete Lunar Cycle set of 100 Yuan platinum pieces. The ever popular Lunar Series depicts artistic representations of the animals from the Chinese Lunar Zodiac. Each year in a 12-year cycle is assigned an animal and various attributes to said animal. Everyone born in that year is said to display traits and behaviors similar to that animal. Each of these one ounce platinum coins depicts one of the Lunar Series animals, and runs from the year 1988 (dragon) to 1999 (rabbit). The inaugural coin in this series, the dragon of 1988, features a reverse design of the Temple of Heaven, with “People’s Republic of China” above and the year 1988 below. The other 11 coins in this series feature a reverse design of the National Emblem of China, with “People’s Republic of China” and the various dates below. The obverse designs are as follows:

1)      1988: Dragon – The only mythical beast of the Chinese Lunar Zodiac, the dragon is revered for its divinity and power. Those born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be vigorous, noble, direct and prosperous. The design for this coin portrays two intricately detailed dragons flying and facing each other. A flaming pearl is shown rising between the two.

2)      1989: Snake – The snake represents a deep thinker, and a person born in this year often displays an inclination for analysis, a mysterious nature and a quick wit. The design used is an adaptation of Ma Jin’s artwork, showing a coiled snake sliding through a patch of grass, and is an early fusion of eastern detailing with western art techniques of perspective and motion.

3)      1990: Horse – In Chinese as well as Western culture, the horse represents freedom. The Chinese Zodiac further states that those born in this year are lucky and prosperous, with the potential for great power and success. Zhang Daqian provides the artistic source for this coin’s obverse design, which shows a Tang dynasty horse saddled and ready for a rider, with its fore leg raised ready to gallop.

4)      1991: Goat – The Chinese Zodiac states that those born in the Year of the Goat tend to be artistic, peaceful and caring. Chen Juzhong, a famous painter of the Southern Song Dynasty provides the painting (one of his most famous works) from which the coin’s design is modeled. Three goats are depicted frolicking in a pasture.

5)      1992: Monkey – Those born in the year of the monkey often represent fast-thinking, curious and bright, if also slightly mischievous. The “Picture of a Monkey” by Liu Jiyou is the design rendered, which depicts a monkey sitting atop a tree branch.

6)      1993: Rooster – According to the Chinese Lunar Zodiac the rooster represents honesty, trust, loyalty and hard work. A person born during this year is said to encompass these traits as well. Liu Kuiling’s famous illustration “Painting of a Pair of Chickens” is recreated for the coin’s design, and features a rooster and hen together, with a large flower to the right.

7)      1994: Dog – The Chinese Zodiac states that those born in the Year of the Dog represent loyalty and dependability, as well as the traits of idealism and straightforward thinking. Liu Kuiling is featured again, this time with his portrait of two Pekingese dogs, which are depicted sniffing and walking about.

8)      1995: Pig – Those born in the year of the pig often seen as thoughtful, caring, happy, lucky and tolerant. It is also said that it is a lucky year to have children, as it is considered a particularly fertile year. Huang Zhou created the design for this coin’s imagery of a pig standing, with grass below and clouds above.

9)      1996: Rat – In Chinese culture, the rat is seen as a leader and pioneer, with people born in this year are said to be shrewd, meticulous and capable. The painting “Old Rat with an Oil Lamp” by Qi Bashi is the depicted lunar animal artwork, featuring a rat perched on its hind legs observing an oil lamp flame.

10)  1997: Ox – The ox represents prosperity, with people born during this year usually exemplify hardworking, self-reliant and dependable traits. Huang Zhou provides the painting from which this coin’s design is based. An ox is shown at the edge of a river, and is leaning in to take a drink.

11)  1998: Tiger – The tiger is often associated (along with the tortoise, dragon and phoenix) as one of the great animals of Chinese mythology. Analogous to the Western depiction of the lion, the tiger is thought to be the king of beasts and a harbinger of war. Those born in the Year of the Tiger are thought to be competitive and brave. The famous painting “Picture of a Tiger Roaring” by Zhang Shanzai features a regal tiger poised on a cliff.

12)  1999: Rabbit – Those born in the Year of the Rabbit often exhibit traits of kindness, sensitivity and are loyal friends, but are also soft spoken. The painting “Picture of a Speeding Hare” by Xu Beihong depicts a rabbit leaping over terrain with flowers to the right.

This is a rare and difficult to assemble set of all the pieces struck in platinum thus far for the famed Lunar Series. Each coin is one ounce of pure platinum and shares its obverse design with its gold counterpart of that year. These special issues were struck in proof alongside the normally seen gold and silver pieces. With its deeper gray sheen, the platinum gives a greater contrasting cameo effect between the brilliant fields and frosted devices and is quite pleasing to the eye. This set is accompanied by ten mint issued certificates of authenticity, lacking them for the 1989 Year of the Snake and 1990 Year of the Horse issues. This is a gorgeous set and certainly an excellent addition to any collection. A largely high grade set with only a few pieces not up to the same level as the rest. Specifically the 1990 Year of the Horse is graded NGC PROOF 66 ULTRA CAMEO and the 1994 Year of the Dog and 1995 Year of the Pig are each NGC PROOF 68 ULTRA CAMEO. All other pieces are NGC PROOF 69 ULTRA CAMEO.

Look for this and other Asian numismatic rarities in our upcoming August Hong Kong Showcase Auction and Sale. Preview this impressive set along with the rest of our auction this July and August at the Stack’s Bowers and Ponterio office located in Irvine, California. For details please refer to the Events Calendar link at To schedule an appointment, please call 800.458.4646. While our Stack’s Bowers Galleries August ANA World’s Fair of Money Auction is closed for further consignments, we are currently taking consignments of ancient and world coins for our November 2014 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo and our 2015 January New York International Sale. Time is running short, so if you are interested in consigning your coins and paper currency (whether a whole collection or a single rarity) be sure to contact one of our consignment directors.

Join our mailing list

Don't miss an auction!

Subscribe to our newsletter.


Contact Us

West Coast Office • (800) 458-4646

Midwest Office • (800) 817-2646

East Coast Office • (800) 566-2580

[email protected]

Hong Kong, China Office • +852 2117 1191

[email protected]

Global locations

Additional representatives
available worldwide.

* Walk-ins welcome

Follow Us

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter

We are sorry, an unexpected error occurred!
Please enter a valid email address

I'm Interested In...

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Stack's Bowers Galleries e-newsletter.