Bimetallic panda coins are where the centre of the coin is made of gold while the outer ring of the coin is made of silver. Relatively few coins fall into this category, they were only issued between 1990 and 1997. Bimetallic Pandas can be considered as a group worth collecting on their own. They have a generally low mintage (less than 3000), and the technology used is substantially more involved along with their great eye appeal, they are especially respected by Panda collectors. In fact, there is probably nothing produced by any mint, anywhere, than compares to the eye appeal and uniqueness of a bimetallic Chinese panda coin or set.
The first bimetal Panda was issued in 1990, when China participated in the 3rd Hong Kong Coin Convention. The Shenyang Mint designed and struck the bimetallic panda with 1/2 oz gold and 1/5 oz silver. As it was the first time this technology was used on a Chinese coin, it became an instant star at the convention. In the following year, the name of the convention was changed to Hong Kong International Coin Convention and once again, Shenyang Mint ventured to designed and produce a bimetallic panda coin to commemorate the event, this time smaller in size, with ¼ oz gold and 1/8 oz.
In the following year, 1992, once again the coin produced was shrunk! This time the weight was 1/10 oz gold and 1/28 oz silver. This small coin once again proved to be popular and, like the coin from 1990 – shared the same depiction or scene, as the brilliant uncirculated panda coins in gold and silver from that year.
In the later years of 1995, 1996 and 1997, four different designs in total of the bimetallic panda coin were released each year. The three normal sizes ½ oz gold + 1/5 oz Silver, ¼ oz gold and 1/8 oz silver, and 1/10 oz gold+1/28 oz silver; as well as a large coin composed of five ounces of gold and surrounded by two ounces of silver.
All the regular sized bimetal pandas are rare and precious, 1997 being the so-called ‘key date’. The larger ones previously mentioned are considerably more valuable, not only because of the higher precious metal content, but also the considerably lower mintage. The 1995 and 1996 coins have a mintage of only 199. The 1997 coin is even rarer as the issuing of the coin was withheld due to the financial crisis. Consequently, it is now an extremely valuable pattern coin.
It is also worth noting that one bimetallic panda, with ¼ oz gold +1/8 oz Silver, was made for the 1996 Munich international Coin Show. This is the only such panda ever made for a European coin show and one of only three bimetallic medals produced by the China Mint.