The series featuring the four sacred Buddhist mountains of China seems like an attractive choice when it comes to either starting out collecting modern Chinese coins, or expanding an existing collection. So far the People’s Bank of China has issued series featuring Mt. Wutai (2012), Mt. Putuo (2013), and Mt. E’mei (2014). The fourth and final sacred mountain, Mt. Jiuhua, is due for official release in April 2015. For a complete set of a particular featured mountain, there are five coins: three gold pieces of 1 kilo, 5 oz, and ¼ oz; and two silver pieces of 1 kilo and 2 oz.
What makes this series an appealing choice? Well, to start with, the subject matter looks good and there are a variety of choices of what to collect – some more affordable, some less so – making it quite an accessible series. Themes of Buddhism lend themselves towards aesthetically pleasing coin designs. The temples, and the artworks contained within them, are stunning in both real-life and in their renderings on the coin faces, not to mention the rugged serenity of their natural surroundings. Like the Bronze Age Implements, Guanyin, and UNESCO Sites series, the Buddhist subject matter has an air of the spiritual and mystical about it, which is closely tied to ancient Chinese history and traditional culture. These themes are popular among the Chinese, especially as there is a certain attraction to being able to identify with a rich cultural heritage.
The mintage figures are another good indicator of potential. Following the first issue in 2012, mintages have been reduced for the subsequent releases, possibly in response to low demand for the initial 2012 releases. However, this nonetheless increases demand pressure on the subsequent series for those who are collecting a particular coin type for each year.
The longevity of this series seems to be the main drawback. Its lifetime, unlike the Pandas or Lunar coins, is predictably finite as there are only four sacred Buddhist mountains. So the series may not appeal to those looking to add a new coin to their collection year on year. However, for collectors who are immersed in the culturally rich themes of these and other similar series, it may well be an avenue to explore.
This avenue, while finite, is by no means a dead end when it comes to investment potential. Although the market price movement on these coins over the last year is nothing to write home about, these fine pieces have not been around long enough to really fulfil their potential, or show a strong indication of just how great that potential is. Like many artists or musicians whose work only gains true recognition after they have died, this series may only show its true colours once it has come to an end.
Why not visit the coin store to browse a selection of other Chinese cultural gems and Buddhist-themed coins? With Christmas just around the corner, coins can make an outstanding gift as they are not only attractive, but their value keeps delivering year after year.