The History of Panda Commemoratives

The China mint began minting panda coins in 1982 starting with gold pandas that had no monetary denomination. In 1983, the first silver pandas were minted with the addition of Yuan denominations (legal tender monetary amounts) on both the gold and silver panda coins.

Panda commemorative issues (previously known as "show pandas") were born in 1984 when the China mint created a silver 1 ounce panda commemorative for the 3rd Hong Kong International Coin Exposition.

A panda commemorative is defined as an official China mint issue of the same quality as the regular panda coins, but lacking a monetary denomination and dedicated to coin shows outside of mainland China.

Today, the first issue is rather hard to find and expensive in high grade. Here is a beautiful example:

1984 Hong Kong Expo Silver 1oz Panda 1984 Hong Kong Expo Silver 1oz Panda The First Panda Commemorative

China 1984 Silver Panda
Distribution: 3rd Hong Kong Expo
Mint: Official China Mint
Weight: 1 Ounce of 925 fine silver
Mintage: 1000
Obverse: Panda
Reverse: Hong Kong Expo


1984 Hong Kong Expo Silver 12oz Panda 1984 Hong Kong Expo Silver 12oz Panda A 12 Ounce Silver Panda Commemorative

China 1986 Silver Panda
Distribution: 5th Hong Kong Expo
Mint: Official China Mint
Weight: 12 Ounces of 999 fine silver
Mintage: 1000
Obverse: Panda
Reverse: Hong Kong Expo

Notes: Very hard to find in PR-69 grade.


By 1987, the "show pandas" had expanded to include other coin shows around the world and several US cities including Long Beach, San Francisco, New Orleans, and New York. The first panda commemorative for the summer ANA convention was minted in 1986.

The boom in panda commemoratives lasted for several years, but by the year 1997 there were no more being minted. This was not to be the end of this collectible and interesting program. But it wasn't until 2012 that another panda commemorative would be struck again! That year, the summer ANA show in Philadelphia had silver and gold commemoratives minted.

The Long Beach Expo has been fortunate to have 3 issues minted: 1987, 2013, and now in 2019 with the addition of the panda commemorative 35th anniversary issue.

The year 2019 marks the 35th anniversary of these popular and interesting panda commemoratives. To celebrate this anniversary, the Shanghai mint has created 3 commemoratives with low mintages to be distributed at the Long Beach Expo in June and September 2019.

The 35th Anniversary Panda Commemoratives:
China 2019, 5 Kilo Gold, 35th Anniversary of Panda Commemoratives, Mintage 5
China 2019, 2 Ounce Gold, 35th Anniversary of Panda Commemoratives, Mintage 38
China 2019, 5 Ounce Silver, 35th Anniversary of Panda Commemoratives, Mintage 100

The Gold versions were scheduled for release at the September 2019 Long Beach Expo, but due to mint delay will be released at the end of September.

The Silver version was released at the June 2019 Long Beach Expo.

The Silver version is also the beginning of a 12 year Lunar Panda Series, which will feature designs by Thomas Cleveland, former US Mint Master Designer. Mr. Cleveland will design the lunar series side of the commemoratives. The panda side will be designed by the China mint in Shanghai.

The 35th Anniversary of Panda Commemoratives issue is comprised of 3 commemoratives to be distributed at the Long Beach Expo:

Long Beach Expo 2019 Gold 5 Kilo Panda Long Beach Expo 2019 Gold 5 Kilo Panda China 2019 35th Anniversary Issue
Distribution: Long Beach Expo
Mint: Official Shanghai China Mint
Weight: 5 Kilos of 999 fine gold
Diameter: 150 mm
Edge: Plain with serial number
Mintage: 5
Obverse: Panda in the wild, Cities issued commemoratives
Reverse: 35th Anniversary
PROOF with box and certificate of authenticity
Long Beach Expo 2019 Gold 2 Ounce Panda Long Beach Expo 2019 Gold 2 Ounce Panda China 2019 35th Anniversary Issue
Distribution: Long Beach Expo
Mint: Official Shanghai China Mint
Weight: 2 Ounces of 999 fine gold
Diameter: 40 mm
Edge: Plain with serial number
Mintage: 38
Obverse: Panda in the wild, Cities issued commemoratives
Reverse: 35th Anniversary
PROOF with box and certificate of authenticity
Long Beach Expo 2019 Silver 5 Ounce Panda Long Beach Expo 2019 Silver 5 Ounce Panda China 2019 35th Anniversary Issue
Distribution: Long Beach Expo
Mint: Official Shanghai China Mint
Weight: 5 Ounces of 999 fine silver
Diameter: 70 mm
Edge: Plain
Mintage: 100
Obverse: Panda in the wild, Cities issued commemoratives
Reverse: Lunar Series, Year of the Pig
Designer: Thomas Cleveland
PROOF with box and certificate of authenticity

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Smith Global Monetary