British Silver Lunar Coins
The Royal Mint: The Lunar Series Coins
In 2014 The Royal Mint released the first official British Lunar coins celebrating the fusion of British and Chinese traditions. The coin collection is called the Shengxiào Collection, named after the Chinese zodiac. In Chinese astrology, it is a repeating cycle of 12 animal signs, each associated with a specific year.
The obverse of the .999 fine silver coin features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, along with the face value. The reverse features that year’s celebrated animal. These sovereign coins are backed by the British government. Their value varies depending on many factors such as demand and silver spot prices.
The Royal Mint’s Lunar Series Coins by the Year
The Royal Mint offers gold and silver versions of this series. On this page, we are focusing on the one ounce .999 fine silver coin.
2014: The Year of the Horse
Designed by Wuon-Gean Ho, the reverse depicts a horse trotting across a British landscape and inscriptions that read Year of the Horse and 2014. The obverse features Queen Elizabeth II. There is a related product available, a Silver Britannia that features eight horse privy marks along the rim.
2014 “Mule” Coin: Approximately 38,000 of the Year of the Horse coins were stuck with an incorrect edge on the obverse. This error produced denticles around the rim. If you have this error coin, it is likely worth more than the non-errored version.
2015: The Year of the Sheep
The obverse of the Year of the Sheep coins features two horned sheep signifying friendship and family. Artist Wuon-Gean Ho created the design for the obverse of this coin.
2016: The Year of the Monkey
The reverse of this coin features artwork by Wuon-Gean Ho which feature two monkeys and the inscription, “Year of the Monkey,” weight, purity, and year. This coin had a limited mintage of 138,888.
2017: The Year of the Rooster
The fourth coin of the Lunar series displays the Rooster which symbolizes perfection in Chinese culture. The obverse of the coin features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II created by Jody Clark rather than Ian Rank-Broadley.
2018: The Year of the Dog
The Year of the Dog Lunar coin features an energetic West Highland Terrier crossed with a Jack Russel dog. The dog represents loyalty, kindness, and honesty.
2019: The Year of the Pig
This Lunar coin features a mother pig and her piglets lying under a night sky. The pig represents kindness, gentleness, and selflessness. This coin demonstrates the work of artist Harry Brockway.
2020: The Year of the Rat
The seventh coin in the Shengxiào Collection features the work of artist P. J. Lynch that celebrates the rat, known for its inquisitive nature. The reverse shows a single rat sniffing the air while crouching above a few flowers. This coin has a limited mintage of 88,888.
2021: The Year of the Ox
This coin celebrates the Year of the Ox and the artwork of Harry Brockway. The design is said to be inspired by 18th-century British paintings of cattle grazing in the English countryside. The reported mintage of this coin is only 3,998.
2022: The Year of the Tiger
This coin features the tiger, which represents strength and confidence. Artist David Lawrence created the design. Lawrence aimed to depict the tiger as "strong, welcoming, courageous, confident, brave, charming and not too aggressive."
2023: The Year of the Rabbit
This coin features the rabbit which represents humility, elegance, and kindness according to The Royal Mint website. It is rumored that this may be the last coin featuring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Future Lunar coins will feature King Charles III. It has a limited mintage of 3,088.
2024: The Year of the Dragon
To be released in 2024. The coin will feature King Charlies III.
2025: The Year of the Snake
To be released in 2025. This coin will feature King Charles III.
The Royal Mint Lunar Series Artists
Many well-known artists have been commissioned to contribute artwork for British coins, including Lunar coins. Here are a few of the featured artists,
Wuon-Gen Ho is an artist who created some of the designs for the lunar series. She is known for her work in printmaking, animation, and artist’s books. She studied History of Art at Cambridge University, Veterinary Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College, and Printmaking at the Royal College of Art.
Harry has succeeded in various artistic disciplines outside coin design, including book illustrations and stone sculpture. Harry studied sculpture at Kingston Polytechnic and the Royal Academy Schools in London while he trained as a stonemason at Weymouth College.
This artist created the design for the Year of the Tiger. David Lawrence is an established artist whose designs are featured on a few coins struck by The Royal Mint, including the 2018 and 2019 Britannia coins commemorating the works of Dame Agatha Christie and William Wordsworth, and contributions to the series marking the centenary of the First World War.
Rank-Broadley is a well-known British sculptor who has created several designs for British coinage including the depiction of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on circulated British and Commonwealth coinage.
Lynth is known as an award-winning children's book illustrator whose art has also been featured on coins and stamps. He is best known for his contributions to the book The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski.