Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2012 Lunar Dragon Coin Controversy

You can now buy Perth Mint 2012 Lunar Year of the Dragon Silver & Gold Coins at Bullion Money:

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For background information you can find my previous posts on the 2012 Perth Mint Lunar Dragon coin here:

With less than 2 weeks to go until release of the 2012 Perth Mint Lunar Dragon Coins (Release Date: September 1st), it has been interesting to see some controversies arise as anticipation for the coins reach fever pitch.

Dealer/distributor allocations for the coins have recently been provided with a few dealers and affected customers unhappy with the result, which has seen the number of coins provided to Australian dealers a fraction of what was expected. As mentioned previously on the blog, some dealers had presold coins and have now had to cut these numbers even with some customers having prepaid for the coins.

One dealer on a local forum recently commented:
I was told first hand by one of the Perth Mint's largest Australian wholesale dealers. He told me that when he asked about an allocation for the Dragons; he was told that if he wanted 40,000 coins it wouldn't be a problem. Nothing was written down and he took their word that it was a done deal. Being a smart cookie he sought to maximise sales before the rest of the herd caught up. Unfortunately he did such a good job that he managed to sell 50% more coins that what the Perth Mint will supply him with, which at this stage is about 6000 coins.
Another user on the same forum commented that:
I hear Australian dealers have got next to nothing in terms of 1oz Dragons when they were confirmed last week with something probably like 280,000 of the 300,000 mintage going to overseas bullion dealers. Shameful when you think about it how Australian business and customers have been shafted in favour of foreigners.
With these controversial stories circulating I decided to contact the Perth Mint directly and emailed Ron Currie (Sales and Marketing Director, Perth Mint) to find out what was happening with their allocation of the coins. The crux of the email was these questions that I posed:
Approximately what percentage (or numbers) of the Silver Lunar Dragon Coin (1oz BU) mintage are being sold via Perth Mint direct (via any retail channel), shipped to foreign dealers/distributors or provided to local dealers/distributors?

How similar are these allocations compared with previous years distribution of the same series coin?

If there is a large discrepancy between what is being shipped overseas compared with past years, can you please expand on the reasoning for this (qualifying the blog comment that you will "ensure that our distributors receive a fair quota of supplies")?

Also it may still be too early, but:

Does the Perth Mint have any plans to improve the allocation process given the apparent mess this one has turned into (e.g. provide allocations earlier than 2 weeks before release, ask that dealers don't offer preorders, etc)?
Within a few hours of my email Ron replied with the below:
It would be fair to say that the gold and silver bullion 1oz Lunar Dragon releases are the most popular coins in the world right now. The Perth Mint received expressions of interest from dealers for more than 2 million silver coins and in excess of 150,000 gold coins – that's an incredible response!

I can assure you that the way we calculated allocations given these circumstances has been equitable, honest and rational.

Those dealers in Australia and overseas who have supported the Australian Lunar Series II over the past four years have been allocated coins. The numbers they will receive is directly related to the quantity of coins they have ordered in previous years.

This is consistent Perth Mint policy which we have stated openly in the past.

Please note that we assiduously avoided any temptation to ration coins by adjusting prices upwards or expanding the mintages. Such moves would undoubtedly have dented the credibility of The Perth Mint going forward.

It is total fallacy, therefore, to suggest that wholesale customers in Australia have in any way been biased against in the allocation of popular Dragon coins. I can assure you that Australian dealers have received no less of a percentage of the total mintage than they have in previous years of the series.

The comment that Australian businesses have been "shafted in favour of foreigners" is totally unfounded and, frankly, offensive in the light of our commitment to total transparency and sincerity to all clients.

I would also like to take this opportunity to underline the point that The Perth Mint is a corporation with a charter enshrined in legislation to promote the sales of precious metals "globally". Unlike most national mints, we are a commercial business driven by the requirement to generate income and profits on behalf of our shareholder – the State of Western Australia.

As anyone who reads Gold Corporation's Annual Reports (downloadable at realises, 80-90% of our revenues are consistently earned overseas. This reflects the international standing of Australia's bullion program under the tutelage of The Perth Mint– and why overseas dealers are accounting for the majority of Dragon allocations now.

With this in focus, you'll understand why I have just landed in Chicago after a 36-hour journey to attend one of the world's premier coin fairs to continue to promote our business further.
So it has been confirmed true that a majority of the Perth Mint Dragons (at least those with limited mintages) will be shipped to foreign dealers, however Perth Mint’s justification is that consistent revenues from overseas surpass those made locally. This does ring true with around 75-90% of revenues being exports in annual reports dating back at least 5 years, however that % is probably heavily skewed by large bar and blank coin sales.

Further to the allocations debacle, images of the two dragon designs (Gold/Silver) are now floating around online (I won’t be posting them here until September 1st, unless officially released prior) with one UK dealer having mistakenly posted the Gold dragon design on their website in anticipation of the release (now removed). The Silver design also leaked via Perth Mint’s own FTP site which some weeks ago had pictures of all the 2012 designs (2012 Dragon, Kookaburra, Koala, Kangaroo), they have now been removed.

What I found interesting is that while Australian buyers have turned to watch overseas dealers to see who has the best price and can supply a reasonable quantity, some users on a German forum (one of the countries Australians are looking to source coins from) have made the suggestion they might look to source them directly from Australia. Google translations of comments on the site below:
“The Perth Mint will not chip away 300,000 copies in its speed. So completely stupid are not. And if the dealers want to usury rate, it could still order direct from Australia.”

“Bullion coins in silver or gold, as the Dragons II in 2012, can only be ordered directly from Australia or from Christmas Island in the Perth Mint. But I have a request via e-mail asked.”
I suspect it’s going to be a mad scramble to obtain the coins on release for a reasonable cost. Perhaps this rush will provide a glimpse of things to come… right now it’s only a small group of Silver investors scrambling for a limited mintage coin series. Sooner or later I suspect a similar scramble for Gold and Silver will come, but it will be the general public trying to get a hold of any Gold and Silver they can.


  1. Wow!

    I was hoping to buy maybe 20 1oz silver and 1 or 2 1oz gold. I thought that such a small purchase would be relatively easy but now I'm not so sure!

  2. Just saw your twitter link to the lunar info posted by a silverstackers member.

    I was interested to see very low mintages for some coins, particuarly the 1KG gem eye silver coins. Do you think these coins will have the numeristic added value to justify spending aprox twice the spot price on?

  3. I think you will want to be fast getting that order in once released Dave, I honestly think obtaining any will be a struggle. The Perth Mint is limiting buyers to a roll of 20 per customer through retail channels for the Silver coins so this might push out the sell out date, but I think they will last days, not weeks or months like previous Lunar releases.

    I bought some gem eye Silver Ox coins for a little over spot not that long ago (they were in capsule only, no box/COA). I think it's worth keeping an eye out for low mintage coins if you can get them for a low premium... I don't think it's worth paying double spot for a 1 kilo coin.

  4. Thanks BB.

    You did well to get such cheap gem eye Ox coins.

    I only want 20 silver dragons (due to limited available cash) so that limit suits me. I am guessing that 1st September 8.30am WA time will resemble internet/phone users around the world trying to get coins as if they were trying to get rock concert tickets! Perhaps the PM website will crash!

  5. Thanks BB.

    Now, if we all recall when the present 1oz minted gold bars in green securicards were launched, you know, the ones with the mini roos monogram on the reverse - they were not available from PM for months (yes, months) but readily available for bulk buy of 50s and 100s from the US, the bay included.

    Talk about priorities.

  6. downies is taking advanced orders online

  7. Got a link Brad? I can't see it on their website... What price are they asking?

  8. They have the Royal Australian Mint Dragons on their website already, but not Perth Mint (as far as I can see)?

  9. The Perth Mint did a very good marketing, even their distributors. Now the result is on the table: a sold out coin! Out of my experience in 20 years coin business: nothing is better for the market than a sold out coin....
    For sure: private buyers are dreaming of huge quantities of a sold out coin for a low price... and the price should increase the day after buying... but this is difficult... the price on the market fir the one oz coin silver is now round about 70 Euro, see this is the same like a two oz coin, but 2oz isn 't limited

  10. It is going to be interesting to see if the hype and high prices for the coin can stay that way once largely out of the hands of dealers. We could see an initial rush and high price, with a pullback in price once the mania subsides. Will be interesting to see.