Wednesday, February 29, 2012

STAR WARS 1oz Silver Legal Tender Coins First Release -Darth Vader Coin Set

Storm Trooper
Imperial stormtroopers are highly trained soldiers of the Galactic Empire. These elite shock troops are deployed in overwhelming numbers to carry out the Emperor’s will and maintain oppressive order throughout the galaxy.

Stormtroopers are feared by Rebel freedom fighters because of their militaristic obedience and their unwavering commitment to the Emperor. Armed with standard Imperial blasters, stormtroopers wear anonymous white armor over black body gloves.

Death Star

The Death Star was the code name of an unspeakably powerful and horrific weapon developed by the Empire.

The immense space station carried a weapon capable of destroying entire planets. The Death Star was to be an instrument of terror, meant to cow treasonous worlds with the threat of annihilation.

While the massive station is evidence of the evil that was the Galactic Empire, it was also proof of the New Order's greatest weakness -- the belief that technology and terror were superior to the will of oppressed beings fighting for freedom.

Darth Vader

Darth Vader is a Dark Lord of the Sith responsible for wiping out the Jedi and executing the Emperor’s evil bidding.

Feared by Rebels and Imperials alike, Darth Vader is a terrifying union of man and machine hidden beneath black robes and forbidding armour.

Determined to hunt down and extinguish the Rebel Alliance, Vader commands the massive Imperial fleet and rules his forces through unquestionable terror.
Emperor Palpatine

Supreme ruler of the Empire, the evil Emperor Palpatine carefully manipulated his way through the bureaucratic corruption of the Old Republic to gain control of the Galactic Senate and assume complete authority.
Declaring martial law throughout the galaxy, and ruling through the massive military forces of the Imperial navy, Palpatine transformed the Republic into his personal Empire.

About the Design

New Zealand Mint is proud to launch one of cinema’s most enduring and beloved franchises, Star Wars, as a legal tender coin set. These coin series will be hugely popular for both Star Wars devotees and coin-collectors alike. This first series is a limited mintage and are quite simply out of this Universe. Don’t deny the Force within you, and get your set today.

Reverse Design

The first series includes eight 1oz 999 Silver coins depicting the characters of the Star Wars movies packaged in two unique four coin sets.

The coins feature a full coloured image of your favourite character duos of Luke Skywalker / Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi / Yoda, R2-D2 / C-3PO, Han Solo / Chewbacca. The second set of four coins feature the dark side including Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Death Star, and a Stormtrooper.

Obverse Design

The obverse of the coin features The Raphael Maklouf effigy of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II sovereign of the commonwealth of Niue.

Limited Mintage

Each coin in the Star Wars set is struck from 1oz of pure silver. No more than 7,500 of each coin will be issued by the New Zealand Mint. The coins are legal tender of Niue Island.


The silver coin series will be packaged as two unique sets of four coins. One will be the Darth Vader head, and the other the Millennium Falcon ship, representing the dark side and the Rebel Alliance. Open the Darth Vader case and hear authentic movie sound effects of Darth Vader breathing. Open the Millennium Falcon case and hear authentic movie sound effects of the ship’s iconic “jump to light speed”.


Each Star Wars set comes with an individually numbered certificate of authenticity issued by New Zealand Mint

Monday, February 27, 2012


Buy the Discover Australia 2012 Kookaburra 1oz Silver Proof Coin at The Perth Mint, featuring:
  • Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver
  • Limited Mintage – 7,500
  • Australian Legal Tender
  • Numbered Certificate of Authenticity
  • Presentation Packaging
  • Available Individually or in a Five-Coin Set
  • New One Year Series

The Kookaburra is one of Australia’s most recognisable birds found throughout the mainland and known for its distinctive laughing call.

Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver

This coin is struck by The Perth Mint from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality.

Kookaburra Reverse Design

The coin’s reverse depicts a Kookaburra perched on a tree branch against a coloured background scene of the Murray River at sunrise. The inscriptions DISCOVER AUSTRALIA and KOOKABURRA, The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark and the 2012 year-date are also included in the design.

Limited Mintages

No more than 7,500 of this coin will be issued by The Perth Mint.

Australian Legal Tender

Issued as Australian legal tender, the coin's obverse also bears the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the monetary denomination.

Numbered Certificate of Authenticity

A numbered Certificate of Authenticity accompanies each coin.

Presentation Packaging

The coin is available in an individual display case featuring a timber lid and stylised shipper.

Five-Coin Set

This coin is also available in a set with other members of the Discover Australia Silver Series including the Red Kangaroo, Whale Shark, Green and Gold Bell Frog and Goanna.


The Real Hunt Brothers Silver Story Part 1

The majority of the information in this video is from Larry LaBorde and his H.L. Hunt's Boys and the Circle K Cowboys article Additional information came from Stephen Fay's Beyond Greed and Jeffery Williams' Manipulation on Trial.

Seventeen Tons of Gold and Silver Coins Recovered from Sunken Galleon

Two military planes laden with 17 tons of silver and gold coins scooped up from a Spanish warship that sank during a 1804 gunbattle landed in Spain today, ending a 200-year odyssey that took the treasure from an ocean floor to Florida courtrooms.
The planes landed with the 594,000 coins and other artifacts retrieved after a five-year legal wrangle with the Florida-based salvage company Odyssey Marine Exploration, which had taken the haul to the U.S. in May 2007.

Once the treasure is offloaded from the planes it will be transported to an undisclosed location, state broadcaster RTVE said.

The deep-sea explorers found the treasure in a shipwreck, believed to be Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, off Portugal's Atlantic coast.

British warships had sunk it as it approached Spain as part of a fleet that had traveled from South America. The Mercedes was believed to have had 200 people aboard when it exploded and sank.

Odyssey made international headlines when it discovered the wreck, estimating the trove to be worth as much as $500 million to collectors, making the haul one of the richest ever.

The Tampa-based salvage outfit had used a remote-controlled submersible to explore the depths and bring items including cannon balls and other metal fragments to a surface ship, and argued that it was entitled to the treasure.

The Spanish government challenged Odyssey's ownership in U.S. District Court soon after the coins were flown back to Tampa, relying on documents from its naval archive which listed Mercedes as a naval warship.

International treaties generally hold that warships sunk in battle are protected from treasure seekers and the Spanish government successfully argued that it had never relinquished ownership of the ship or its contents.
A federal district court first ruled in 2009 that U.S. courts didn't have jurisdiction, and ordered the treasure returned.

Odyssey then lost every round in federal courts trying to hold on to the treasure, as the Spanish government painted them as modern-day pirates plundering the nation's cultural heritage.

On Thursday the Peruvian government made an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block transfer of the treasure to give that nation more time to make arguments in federal court about its claim to being the rightful owner.

Peru says the gold and silver was mined, refined and minted in that country, which at the time was part of the Spanish empire. The appeal was directed to Justice Clarence Thomas, who did not indicate when he would respond.

U.S. courts had previously rejected claims by descendants of the Peruvian merchants who had owned the coins aboard the Mercedes.

'Peru is making the same arguments that have been rejected at every level of the U.S. courts,' said James Goold, a Washington attorney who represents the Spanish government. 'There's absolutely nothing new in it.'

The head spokesman for Peru's embassy in Washington, Rodolfo Pereira, declined to comment yesterday on the appeal.

Spanish officials said last week the planes would leave by Friday, and MacDill authorities planned a news conference on the base Friday morning with the ambassador and other officials.

The planes were expected to be already loaded with pallets holding the white plastic buckets filled with coins.

Odyssey - which uses a remote-controlled submersible to explore the depths and bring the tiniest of items to the surface - had previously argued that as the finder it was entitled to all or most of the treasure.

The Spanish government filed a claim in a U.S. District Court soon after the coins were flown back to Tampa, contending that it never relinquished ownership of the ship or its contents.

Read more

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cartel Dumps 102.5 Million Ounces of Paper Silver in 7 Minutes, Yet Raid Fails!

If you happen to need to take a trip to an NYC ER room tonight and experience an extraordinarily long wait, The Doc's about to explain why.

Silver has put in a monster rally this week, and much to the cartel's dismay, was preparing to close the week above $35.50 today, preparing a break-out next week that could potentially fill the gap from the September smash to $40, and see silver off to the races back to challenge the all-time nominal highs near $50. Obviously, the cartel stepped in with a massive paper raid to prevent such a bullish weekly close.

That's where things got interesting and likely induced more than a few Myocardial Infarctions today among JPMorgan execs.

Check out the following price and volume chart screen shot SD reader Conax took on this 1-minute silver chart courtesy NetDania.

Notice the massive volume that began at approximately 14:47, with 4,000 paper contracts dumped on the market in a single minute, followed by 2,500, 1,800, 3,200, 3,000, 2,900, and 3,100 over the next 6 minutes.

Have a look for yourself:


That's 20,500 paper silver contracts or 102,500,000 ounces of paper silver suddenly dumped on the market in a span of 7 minutes!

Now here's where the collective Myocardial Infarction comes in among JPM execs:

After dumping 102.5 million ounces of paper shorts on silver in 7 minutes, silver fails to collapse into a waterfall decline, and STAGES AN OUTSIDE REVERSAL TO CLOSE THE GLOBEX SESSION BACK ABOVE $35.50!!!

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blatant Suppression Of Silver Prices

One tactic used by the US government, its trading partners, and allies in its effort to hold down the price of gold is to also manipulate the price of silver. Most of the time, gold and silver prices move in the same direction. Therefore, it the price of silver can be suppressed, that will influence investors and traders into expecting lower gold prices.

On January 17, the spot price of silver closed on the COMEX at $30.11. Yesterday, it closed at $33.70, an increase of 11.9%! Most people would take that as a sign of a strong silver market. However, the silver market is really much stronger than that relative price change.

In the COMEX weekly Commitment of Traders Report as of January 17 (which was reported on January 20), Commercial traders had a net short position on the COMEX of 20,382 contracts. At 5,000 ounces per contract, that means that Commercial traders, which are primarily the bullion banks who are trading partners of the US government, had a short position of 101,910,000 ounces on January 17.

In the Commitment of Traders Report as of February 7, which was released on February 10, the Commercial traders net short position had increased by 14,268 contracts from January 17. As of February 7, the Commercial traders were net short 34,650 contracts, or 173,250,000 ounces!

In other words, the Commercial traders shorted the market by 71,340,000 ounces of silver on the COMEX from January 17 to February 7, increasing their net short position by 70%! The 71 million ounce increase in the short silver position is equal to about 10% of annual worldwide new silver mining supplies!

Normally, the selling of 71 million ounces of silver in a period of three weeks would cause the price of silver to plummet! How much higher would the price of silver have jumped January 17 if this increase of “paper silver” supply had never occurred?

But this short selling wasn’t the only recent blatant tactic to suppress silver prices. At the beginning of February, 1- and 2-month silver lease rates turned negative. Over this past weekend, 3-month silver lease rates turned negative. So, not only do borrowers of silver not have to pay any interest to do so, they will actually be paid a fee by the lender. Obviously, lenders are not making a profit when lease rates are negative.

Negative lease rates send a signal to the market that there is so much of the physical commodity available that it should be worth less than its current price level. Therefore, the price of silver should have been declining in the past two weeks rather than treading water.

Last Friday, the COMEX dropped margin requirements on all the commodities it trades. The margin requirements for gold and silver futures contracts were decreased by 11% to 13%. Usually, when it is easier for investors to borrow money to purchase an investment, that tends to lead to greater demand followed by higher prices. Several people have contacted me to ask about the implications of lower margin requirements for leveraged gold and silver COMEX trading.

I have three thoughts about the decrease in the COMEX gold and silver margin requirements. First, the decrease affected all commodities traded on the COMEX. In the circumstances, it would have looked strange for all margin requirements to be decreased except for gold and silver. It could have resulted in more investors realizing that gold and silver prices were being suppressed.

Second, even though gold and silver margin requirements were reduced last week, they are still far higher than they were a year ago. In effect, the COMEX should have reduced gold and silver margin requirements before last week, and reduced them by an even a greater percentage than happened.

Third, one way that market manipulators can make a profit is by temporarily suppressing prices even though the long-term trend is for higher prices. The Commercial traders can sell a lot of paper contracts to drive down the price, shaking out weak hands investors, then cover those new short positions after prices have fallen. A decline in margin requirements could entice some weak hands investors to enter the gold and silver market just before a major price drop, thereby increasing profits earned by the Commercial traders.

Even though the price of silver has increased from four weeks ago, it is entirely possible that there will be one significant price drop before silver soars. The COMEX March 2012 silver options will expire February 23.

The First Day of Notice for Delivery of March 2012 Futures contracts is February 29. Therefore, the US government has a huge incentive for silver prices to drop from current levels before those two days.

Once we get past February 29, I expect to see some real fireworks as the price of silver shoots up. Look for it to break free of the effects of increased short selling by Commercial traders and negative lease rates that have slowed down the rise in silver prices over the past four weeks.

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Monday, February 13, 2012


In 2012, The Perth Mint’s internationally renowned Australian Lunar Gold Proof Coin Series II celebrates the auspicious Year of the Dragon, the fifth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
The birth dates for people ruled by the Chinese Lunar dragon include 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012. Those born under the influence of this sign are said to be confident, enterprising, independent, self-assured, brave, and passionate.

Proof Quality 99.99% Pure Gold

Each coin is meticulously struck from 99.99% pure gold in proof quality.

2012 Year of the Dragon Design

Each coin’s reverse depicts a coloured dragon with a representation of a ‘pearl of wisdom’. The Chinese character for ‘dragon’ and the inscription YEAR OF THE DRAGON also appear in the design with The Perth Mint’s traditional ‘P’ mintmark.

Australian Legal Tender

Issued as Australian legal tender, the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the 2012 year-date and the monetary denomination are shown on the obverse of each coin.

Extremely Limited Mintage

The Perth Mint will release no more than 5,000 1oz coins, 5,000 1/4oz coins and 5,000 1/10oz coins.

Numbered Certificate of Authenticity

A numbered Certificate of Authenticity accompanies each coin.

Stunning Presentation Display Case

Gold Proof Lunar coins are housed in elegant oval-shaped display cases, featuring a glossy timber-effect lid and presented in coloured illustrated shippers.

Technical Specifications

Coin Weights available 1 1/4 1/10
Gold Content (Troy oz) 1 0.25 0.10
Monetary Denomination (AUD) 100 25 15
Fineness (% purity) 99.99 99.99 99.99
Minimum Gross Weight (g) 31.112 7.777 3.111
Maximum Diameter (mm) 39.34 22.60 18.60
Maximum Thickness (mm) 2.50 2.20 2.00


Saturday, February 11, 2012

.999 Silver Casino Gaming Token Strikes - Limited Edition $10.00

.999 Silver Casino Gaming Token Strikes - Limited Edition $10.00

These Limited Edition $10 Casino Gaming Tokens were originally won from slot machines. They are also known as Silver Strikes. These $10 Silver Strikes - .999 Fine Silver Center Gaming Tokens are no longer being issued.

They represent a perfect combination of a silver item with collector's value as well as fine piece of investment grade silver.

Sometimes found for very close to the silver spot value, and as they are essentially a form of fractional silver, they are unique blend as an investment choice with high liquidity due to and have novelty and collector's value added for free.

Each of these contain .6 troy ounces of .999 Fine Silver and will usually come in its own plastic protective case and are almost always in uncirculated condition or better. They are a great addition to any growing stack.
There are well over 100 different kinds of these silver strikes from different casino tokens available to collect.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Australia a Gold Standard Country: BHP

Amid the global economic turmoil and credit squeeze, Australia remains a gold standard country to invest in, says BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers.

Mr Kloppers said he was cautious about 2012 and its "risk premia" along with shortages in a skilled workforce in Australia, but was optimistic about long-term commodity demand, tied to China's economy.

BHP Billiton delivered a $US9.941 billion ($A9.23 billion) first-half profit on Monday, more than half of it driven by the company's most profitable division, its iron ore operations in Western Australia.

"If we think in the long run we are very fortunate as a country in these unstable times in terms of international credit availability and amounts of investment," Mr Kloppers told reporters in a teleconference.

"I said to somebody the other day that Australia was the gold standard and has been the gold standard and therefore has the very best companies in the world operating here."

Those companies were more likely to continue investing through the cycle than smaller companies, which currently had funding difficulties, he said.

No changes have been announced to the company's $US80 billion ($A74.30 billion) budget for growth projects.

An investment decision on the $US21.66 billion ($A20 billion) Olympic Dam expansion - the world's biggest open cut mine - is still due in mid-2012, while BHP is still planning to increase iron ore production to 350 million tonnes a year by 2020 (it is currently 178mtpa).

Last month it committed $US779 million ($A723.51 million) to building an outer harbour at Port Hedland for shipments.

The current leadership instability in the Gillard Government or prospects for a change of government was not a major concern for miners doing business in Australia, he said.

"What is important to us is that we don't get discontinuities like we nearly had with the MRRT (Mineral Resources Rent Tax) two years ago," he said.

"We must continue to ensure we've got a long-term flexible, productive, highly innovative technologically advanced workforce.

"That is probably something which occupies a significant share of mind at the moment."

The proposed merger between Anglo-Swiss groups Xstrata and major shareholder and trading house Glencore was not a concern, with BHP pursuing different assets that were only tier-one, long-life and low-cost, he said.

Australia a Gold Standard Country: BHP

Monday, February 6, 2012

Silver Chinese Dragon Coin - Hu-Peh Province

The authentic Chinese Dragon coin listed on this page has been made during the Qing Dynasty which was present in China from the year 1644 until 1911. This dragon coin, or dragon dollar as some call it also, has been struck somewhere between 1909 - 1911 in the Hubei Province which is situated in the center of China. The Hubei province is surrounded by Henan province to the north, Jiangxi and Hunan province to the south, Anhui province to the east, Sichuan province to the west and Shaanxi province to the northwest.

Some Silver Chinese Dragon Coin facts.

  • Mintage: Circulation strikes: 2,703,000.
  • Composition: Silver .7814 Oz.
  • Weight: 7 Mace and 2 Candareen.
  • Mintmark: Hu-Peh Province.

Here below are the images from an authentic Chinese silver dragon coin and a cheap counterfeit dragon coin, both from the Hu-Peh province in China.

Authentic Silver Dragon Dollar Counterfeit Chinese Dragon Dollar
(7 Mace and 2 Candareen) (7 Mace and 2 Candareen)
Obverse Side Obverse Side

Chinese silver dragon dollar counterfeit chinese dragon dollar

When comparing both Chinese dragon coins the following differences are easy to see on the counterfeit coin and not on the authentic silver dragon coin.
  • The numbers are not identical, see the number 2 who is bigger.
  • The letters are not the same and more fat than on the authentic coin.
  • The dragon has far less details, and some are even missing (center).
  • The letter and numbers are more to the edge of the dragon coin.

Authentic Chinese Dragon Coin

Counterfeit Chinese Dragon Coin

Reverse Side

Reverse Side

silver dragon coin - hu-peh province china

counterfeit dragon coin

The reverse side of the counterfeit dragon dollar shows another Chinese text, but as there are many dragon coins with different signs on it, this is not the right way to identify these coins as a counterfeit Chinese dragon dollar. What is clear to see when comparing these two pictures is the thickness of the Chinese letters on the counterfeit that does not match the authentic silver dragon coin.

China Coins: Silver Chinese Dragon Coin - Hu-Peh Province


The Green and Gold Bell Frog is a strikingly beautiful amphibian that prefers to live close to water or in wetlands.

Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver

This coin is struck by The Perth Mint from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality.

Green & Gold Bell Frog Reverse Design

The Green and Gold Bell Frog coin's reverse depicts a Green and Gold Bell Frog resting on a branch against a coloured background of the Three Sisters rock formations found in the Blue Mountains. The inscriptions DISCOVER AUSTRALIA and GREEN & GOLD BELL FROG, The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark and the 2012 year-date are also included in the design.

Limited Mintages

No more than 7,500 of this coin will be issued by The Perth Mint.

Australian Legal Tender

Issued as Australian legal tender, the coin's obverse also bears the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the monetary denomination.

Numbered Certificate of Authenticity

A numbered Certificate of Authenticity accompanies each coin.

Presentation Packaging

The coin is available in an individual display case featuring a timber lid and stylised shipper.

Five-Coin Set

This coin is also available in a set with other members of the Discover Australia Silver Series including the Red Kangaroo, Whale Shark, Goanna and Kookaburra.

Buy the Discover Australia 2012 Green and Gold Bell Frog 1oz Silver Proof Coin at The Perth Mint, featuring:

  • Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver
  • Limited Mintage – 7,500
  • Australian Legal Tender
  • Numbered Certificate of Authenticity
  • Presentation Packaging
  • Available Individually or in a Five-Coin Set
  • New One Year Series

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Demand leads China to increase 2012 Panda bullion mintages

Pandas have notoriously sensitive populations, but the coins depicting them are proliferating at least: amid soaring demand the People’s Bank of China has announced higher mintages for 2012 Panda bullion coins.

The 2012 mintages for the coins will in some cases double or triple compared to 2011 mintages, according to the June 20 announcement.

The decision to increase mintages was reported by state news agency Xinhua and confirmed by a spokesperson for China Gold Coin Corp., the distributor of the coins in China. PandaAmerica, the California-based distributor for the United States, also confirmed the increased mintages for 2012, the second consecutive year China has raised mintage figures for the Panda precious metal bullion coins.

The stalwarts of the program are the 1-ounce .999 fine silver 10-yuan coin and the 1-ounce .999 fine gold 100-yuan coins; the mintage for the silver 10-yuan coin will double from 3 million pieces to 6 million coins, while the mintage limit for the 1-ounce gold coin is raised from 300,000 coins to 500,000 coins.

Four different sizes of fractional gold bullion coins — the 20th-, 10th-, quarter- and half-ounce pieces — will see the largest increases, rising from mintage limits of 200,000 in 2011 to 600,000 next year, per size.

“Chinese investors have rushed to buy precious metals this year to hedge against rising inflation,” according to the Xinhua report.

In the first quarter of 2011, China became the world’s largest market for gold coins and bars for investment, according to a May 19 report from the World Gold Council, a trade group.

China currently issues 10 different Panda coins annually. The six pieces for which mintage increases have been announced are issued as bullion pieces. Four additional coins, 5-ounce and kilogram sizes of both silver and gold coins, are issued in Proof versions and were not discussed in the recent announcement; their mintages will not be revealed until later this year.

That doesn’t mean they will immune to increases; mintages for eight of the 10 Panda coins (bullion and Proof combined) rose from 2010 to 2011, in some cases dramatically.

The mintages for small Panda gold coins, those of half-, quarter-, tenth-, and 20th-ounce sizes, were raised from 120,000 each in 2010 to 200,000 each with the 2011 coins, a 67 percent increase.

Mintages for some of the large versions were also raised: the kilogram gold coin went from a mintage of 200 pieces in 2010 to a 300-coin mintage maximum this year.

The kilogram-sized silver 300-yuan coins for 2011 have a limit of 8,000 pieces, twice the 2010 mintage, and the maximum of 20,000 5-ounce 50-yuan silver coins compares to 10,000 for 2010.

But the biggest increase for 2011 was registered for the 1-ounce silver size, as the 10-yuan coin, which had a mintage maximum of 800,000 pieces in 2010, saw its maximum shoot up to 3 million pieces, a 275 percent increase in 2011.

The only mintage limits not increased in 2011 were the 1-ounce 500-yuan and 5-ounce 2,000-yuan gold coins, remaining stable at 300,000 pieces and 1,000 pieces, respectively.

The accompanying table lists full details of the rising mintage limits from 2010 through the announced limits for 2012.

The obverse of each Panda coin shows the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (the Temple of Heaven). The reverse design has changed every year since the Panda made its debut, except for 2002, and shows a different design of a panda or pandas.

China’s Panda coins are minted at the Shenzhen Guobao Mint, Shenyang Mint and Shanghai Mint, and are generally not identified with a Mint mark.

Demand leads China to increase 2012 Panda bullion mintages

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Koala 2012 1oz Silver Proof Coin - The Perth Mint Australia containing an Authentic Australian Opal

The first release in this stunning new series depicts the koala, perhaps Australia’s most beloved and iconic animal. Like many Australian mammals, this unique creature is nocturnal and can sleep for approximately 18 hours a day. This idea was the inspiration behind the design concept.

Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver

The coin is struck by The Perth Mint from 1oz of 99.9% pure silver in proof quality.

New and Innovative Coin Design

The coin’s reverse incorporates an inner panel design of a koala in a gum tree, detailed in pure Australian opal. The outer panel of the coin depicts Eucalypt leaves and blossoms, a new moon and the Southern Cross – a renowned star group which is only visible in the Southern hemisphere.

Extremely Limited Mintage

No more than 8,000 of these coins will be issued by The Perth Mint.

Australian Legal Tender

Issued as Australian legal tender, the coin’s obverse depicts the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the year-date and the monetary denomination.

Numbered Certificate of Authenticity

The coin is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity.

Beautiful Presentation Packaging

Presented in a prestigious display case, a light turns on as you open the case, highlighting the opal design and symbolising moonlight, shining down on the nocturnal koala.

Buy the Australian Opal Series – The Koala 2012 1oz Silver Proof Coin at The Perth Mint, featuring:
  • New and Innovative Coin Design
  • Authentic Australian Opal
  • Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver
  • Limited Mintage – 8,000
  • Australian Legal Tender
  • Numbered Certificate of Authenticity
  • Beautiful Presentation Packaging
  • First of New Series Featuring Australia's Favourite Nocturnal Animals
Koala 2012 1oz Silver Proof Coin - The Perth Mint Australia containing an Authentic Australian Opal

Straits Setttlements 1896 Ten Cents - Queen Victoria UNCIRCULATED with Lustre

This Straits Setttlements 1896 Ten Cents featuring Queen Victoria is an UNCIRCULATED specimen with Pearl Tone and Lustre and full detail.

Estimated Price: $120 US$

Straits Setttlements 1896 Ten Cents - Queen Victoria UNCIRCULATED with Lustre

Friday, February 3, 2012

CHOPMARKED COINS, Worthless or Historically Significant?

For many years I believed what I had heard concerning chopmarked coins; they're damaged and not worth collecting. Then a fellow WINS member posted an image of a coin so full of chopmarks that you could barely make out what type of coin it was, and I was hooked and had to learn more. Here are a few things I have learned as a member of the Chopmark Collectors Club.

Chopmarked coins, unlike most coins that tell us nothing of where they've been, can speak volumes. All of those marks tell us where the coin has been and what it was used for, and are strongly tided to events of the day. Chopmarks differ from countermarks (or counterstamps) in that a countermark was a monogram added by a government making the coin acceptable for use in that country. One of the most well known countermarked examples is the oval bust of George III on various Spanish Colonial coins of the late 18th century (shown at the left).

Chopmarks are basically countermarks used by Chinese bankers and merchants stamped on coins as a defense against debased counterfeit coins. Chopmarks also signified that a coin's composition had been verified and that it was acceptable for use in trade. Chopmarks can take a variety of forms as shown in the table below.

Chopmark Varieties
(as defined by "F.M. Rose")
Test Marks The most common usually made with a punch. Its purpose was to test the coin to see if it was silver- plated base metal or hollowed out. test cut
Edge Cuts Common, aimed at determining if the coin was a plated fake. edge cut
Small Chops Common, can consist of abstract symbols such as circles, stars, and crescents etc. or Chinese characters. Most commonly found on Mexican Cap
and Rays 8 Reales.
small chop
Large Chops Common, usually consisting of Chinese characters,
pseudo characters or abstract symbols.
large chop
Chops in Relief Small relief chops are scarce while large relief chops are rare. relief chop
Assay Chops A rare special relief chop made by a banker, usually
retangular containing two or more characters.
bankers assay chop
Letter Chops Scarce, consisting of the Latin alphabet. The most
common letter used was the letter 'S'.
relief chop
Number Chops Moderately scarce, consisting of large chops, the
number 8 being the most common followed by the
number 5.
number chop
Manchu Chops Extremely rare, consisting of Manchu script. Example
Banker's Ink
These come in red, blue, purple and black ink, and can be difficult to find high grade. ink chop
Paper Chops The usual paper chop is called the "happy wedding". paper chop
Elaborately drawn in India ink comprised of letters
surrounded by fancy borders, dragons and flowers often covering the entire coin.

To understand why the Chinese felt it necessary to "chop" all silver (and a few gold and even fewer copper) coins, it is helpful to understand what was going on in China economically at that time.

Prior to 1842 Canton was the only Chinese port open to foreign trade so it stands to reason that the practice of chopping coins probably began in Canton. References in the "Chronicles of the East Indian Trading Company" indicate that chopmarked coins were in use in 1776.

Over time local Chinese officials developed a consortium of merchants known in the west as the Cohong system, to conduct foreign trade. During the 1600's and 1700's foreign traders wanted commodities such as tea, silk, porcelain and lacquer ware, but the only commodity China wanted in return was silver. Ships from England, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark and America carried to China tons of silver - most of it produced in the mines of Spanish America.

Tao Kuang, Emperor of China from 1820 to 1840, issued an Imperial Edict, ordering that the only form of payment Chinese merchants could lawfully accept for the goods they sold to foreigners was silver coins. This attempt to stop barter caused the English to seek a commodity that Chinese merchants wanted badly enough to risk Imperial wrath to pay for it with silver. Otherwise China would soon have all the world's silver and the East India Company would run out of profits from China trade. That commodity was opium. England had opium, grown in India, and could sell all they could deliver to the Chinese who were willing to pay in silver coins. The Imperial government blamed the English for the terrible increase in opium addiction in China, which ultimately led to war.

Thus came the Opium War, Part 1 was fought between 1838 and 1842, and Part 2 ran from 1850 to 1860. This also triggered the Tai-Ping rebellion, 1850-1865, which was suppressed by the government and went underground to resurface as the Boxer Rebellion. This too was suppressed by the government, but not finished. It turned into two things, the Revolution of 1911, which overthrew the Ching Dynasty; and the Triads, which became secret criminal organizations similar to the Mafia.

China produced very few dollar sized silver coins before 1890 using instead the circulating silver dollar coinage of other countries. The most widely traded coins of the time were the Spain's and Mexico's 8 Reales coins, but other countries not wanting these to become the world-trading standard started producing their own dollar-sized silver trade coins.

Major Trade Coins that Circulated in China
Note: This table only covers the large trade silver, but other demnominations
and coinage from other countries did circulate and receive chopmarks.
Spain 8 Reale or "Spanish Dollar", 1732-71
(Rare, conceptual image used until actual image can be
Spanish Dollar
Mexico 8 Reale or "Pillar Dollar", 1732-72 Pillar Dollar
Mexico 8 Reale or "Carolus Dollar", 1772-1808 Carolus Dollar
Hong Kong
(British Rule)
"Dollar", 1866-68
Chops on the Queen's face were considered
bad luck and are rarely seen.

(Conceptual image used until actual image can be
Hong Kong Dollar
Japan "Trade Dollar", 1875-78, 416 grains, .900 fine, (increased to 420 grains in late 1875) Japan Trade Dollar
Great Britian "Trade Dollar", 1895-1938, 416 grains, .900 fine British Trade Dollar
United States
of America
"Trade Dollar", 1873-85, 420 grains, .900 fine US Trade Dollar
France "Piastre de Commerce of Indo China" 1885-1928 French Piastre
Austria "Maria Theresia Thaler" 1740 to the present.
Almost unheard of and their authenticity is questioned by
many researchers.
Maria Theresia Thaler

One thing thing to keep in mind: the Chinese people accepted the coins above by weight, as "7 Mace and 2 Candareens" of standard silver, but not as a "dollar" which did not become legal tender until 1889. But, with all of the types of dollars and variations of silver content, it was becoming difficult to determine which coins to accept and which to avoid.

Compounding the problem was the influx of counterfeit coins. Researchers have uncovered records describing the production of counterfeit coins for the Chinese market. One was by a Mr. Pablo Bordeauz, "Made in Birmingham in 1792, Counterfeit Spanish Pieces of Eight, Countermarked in China", where he documented manufacturing methods of copper coins plated with silver and specified a production scale amounting to 25,000 pounds of counterfeit coins weekly during 1792.

Another report is that the British established a mint in Canton at the end of the eighteenth century in order to strike forged pieces of eight dated 1778 and that by 1790 several million forged coins were circulating in China. It turns out that the East India Company made a big mistake, and that was to leave the mint in the hands of the natives. They were producing forged Mexico Carolus Dollars, but Chinese workers anxious to make money for themselves too, began increasing the copper content of the alloy and keeping the silver.

Coins put into circulation were .600 fine instead of the correct .902.7. The flamboyant mint of the East India Company went bankrupt and closed its doors.

Between the coins not of Chinese origin and the large number of forgeries, some form of silver content guarantee was needed. To solve this problem, the native bank or moneychanger added their "chop" to each dollar that passed through their hands. This "chop" was normally a single symbol or letter or sometimes a secret symbol known only to that particular money changer that:

1. showed the coin was given out by them,
2. certified the silver content was standard,
3. and that they agreed to accept the coin back without argument.

"Chop" is said to be a word imported by the English from India where the word was "Chappa" or "Choppa", meaning seal or official stamp.

Deciphering the meaning of these little "chops" can be an exercise in frustration. First, they are over 100 years old and many of the characters are no longer comparable to modern-day characters. Therefore it is difficult to translate them into a modern English-Chinese dictionary and necessitates locating someone who can read the old characters.

Secondly, research has shown that many of the "chops" turned into personal marks of identity like a monogram, some even using an assemblage of characters similar to a cattle brand. Chinese characters are made up of meanings, which may describe the person's physical appearance, title or other unique feature. This "chop" change may have been caused when local businessmen took up the practice of chopmarking.

Unfortunately, the practice of counterfeiting coins, even those bearing chopmarks, continues in China today so great care should be exercised when selecting coins for your collection. For some collectors chopmarked coins will always be damaged goods, but for others they represent a moment in history. And, just like in other facets of this hobby, you should always collect what you like, not what someone else tells you too.

Information Sources:

Chopmarks by F.M. Rose, 1978.
Chopmark Collectors Club Newsletter, "Chopmark News", July 1990 through 2008:
- The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, July 1945, "The Trade Coins of the far East" by Arlie Slabaugh.
- The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine, July 1960, "Chopmarks on Chinese Coins" by R.A. Leonard.
- El Duro by Adolfo Herrera, 1914, "Countermarks on Chinese Coins".
- "Sobre los Chap Marks o Contramarcas Chinas", by Manela Gonzalez Fuenteas.
- "Chop Marks Brand Chinese Coins" by Peter F. Hamilton.
- Coins Magazine, September 1970, "The Chop-marked Dollar" by Ray Young.

CHOPMARKED COINS, Worthless or Historically Significant?