China has some of the most acclaimed silver coins, drawing in collectors and investors alike on an annual basis. Many people don't instantly think of China when they consider silver coins, but they are actually one of the biggest sellers around the world.
One of the most unique elements of the coin itself is that its design changes on an annual basis. While some coins undergo minor tweaks and adjustments over time, very few have brand new designs each and every year. This is one of the coin's most interesting attributes, and also one of the factors that plays into its popularity among the general silver-buying public.
The Panda was released in 1983, just a few years prior to the American Eagle coin. Most of today's coins that can be bought and sold on a regular basis debuted around this same time, making them easily accessible as production still continues to this day. The first three releases of the Panda were available exclusively as Proof editions. This was changed in 1989, when mass production of uncirculated editions took place for the first time. The original first few years of proof coins are exceedingly rare as only 10,000 of each were produced, paling in comparison to the hundreds of thousands that are now minted each year.
Design of the Silver Panda
The obverse side of the coin is the one feature that remains relatively static from year to year. On each coin, there is a picture of the "Temple of Heaven," along with an inscription that reads "The People's Republic of China." In addition to these markings, the year is also engraved.
As mentioned above, the reverse side of each Panda features a design that is unique to the year of mintage. The only exception to this rule can be found in 2001 and 2002, years in which the reverse design was matching. Compare one Panda coin to another and you will see that the differences are very obvious.
Value of Silver Pandas
Silver Pandas have extremely varied worths depending on the type of coin that you are dealing with. Needless to say, the first edition proof coins are going to be much more valuable than the regular uncirculated coins that were released by the hundreds of thousands decades later.
Even regular uncirculated Panda coins will cost a fair amount over the price of spot. This is a somewhat unique characteristic as the majority of silver coins can be obtained for around $5-$10 over spot, whereas anything under $10 over spot would be considered an absolute bargain.
The proof and commemorative versions of the silver Panda are what will truly cost you a bundle. These coins range from a few hundred dollars each, depending on year and condition, all the way up to $1,000 or more. The extremely low mintages of the earlier releases have caused prices to sky rocket. Not only are many of the proof coins expensive, but they are often times extremely difficult to find. Their high prices are a direct reflection of their true rarity.
Buy Silver Panda Coins
Silver Panda coins are most suited for the collector or investor who is interested in more premium-level issues. It is easy to stock pile other more widely available coins, and it won't cost you a fortune, but Chinese Pandas are going to require a slightly larger budget than usual.
If you are buying for the pure investment value in silver itself, uncirculated coins are the only way to go. Proof coins are certainly a viable option as well, but they will best fit into the collection of a buyer who is looking to hedge largely on the collectible value of the coin rising more than the price of silver itself. The majority of your expense with proof coins comes well past the spot price, so you should be prepared for bigger gains based on the collectible market and not the fluctuations of silver in the open market.