BU silver pandas are perfect beginner coins for both investors and coin collectors with low acquisition costs, the relative ease and excitement from building sets and comparatively small number of types. The 1 oz coins were first issued in 1989 while the ½ oz variety first appeared in 1993.
For investment purposes, these coins are a classic defensive investment with the demand from mainland China high where these are affordable gift sets given during one of the many holidays each year as well as in honor of newly born children. Further, the international silver price is in general bullish. As an example, the coins from 2001- 2009 have a 3 year rate of return of at least 10% annually. The older coins have an even higher return with market prices far exceeding the silver price.
For collection purposes, one could start with the collection of one from each year. Because of the small variety, collecting all of them is unexpectedly affordable. For more advanced collectors, these coins offer a playing field where collectors can explore the finer details of coin collecting, such as coin finish and date varieties. For example, there are a number of BU Silver Pandas such as the 1989 – 1992 series, that have an better finish and more brilliant luster compared to the proof coins in that same series. These proof-like coins act as a study-aid for collectors who are interested in the different surfacing techniques that have been used on panda coins over the years. This series is also well-known for different versions, originating from the different Mints within China (Shenyang, Shanghai, Shenzhen). As an example, the 1999 coin has three distinct versions with different font best seen on the year of issue ‘1999.’ The 1995 coin has two distinct versions where the Shenyang version of the coin has 6 bamboo leaves missing on the reverse side compared to the Shanghai version. This is resulting from the incorrect transfer of the coin mould between the Mints, this rare mistake made the 1995 BU silver panda coins particularly valuable to collect.
The silver proof panda coins were distributed with the intent of being collectors edition coins. With lower mintages, they command higher premiums. The first three years are all proof coins, 1983, 1984 and 1985. The series continues in 1989 with one ounce coins each year up to 1996. In total there eleven proof coins (not counting the 1 oz colored proof pandas from the late 1990’s). In contrast, the BU silver panda series is from 1989 to present.