From approximately 1987 through 2000, BU gold pandas were produced at two different mints in China (1/20 to 1 ounce sizes). These mints are in Shanghai and Shenyang. The two facilities produced the same design each year, but there are some identifiable differences between the coins produced at each mint. The most easily distinguished difference is the typeface used for the date. As a result, these have become known as the “date varieties”.
In addition to the two date types from each year, there were other variations. In 1999 there are 3 date types, in 2000 there is a difference in the use of the frosted finish on the temple-side, and in 2001 there was a version issued with s “D” mint mark. Separately, there is an additional series of proof pandas produced from 1986 through 1996. The 1986-1994 proofs have a “P” mint mark, and 1995 and 1995 proofs have a different panda design than the BU coins of those years.
The following pages are a reference to help identify and distinguish the various types. 1oz gold pandas are used in the photos.
Panda date varieties were not widely documented until the approximately 2005. As these type were identified, various names were used by collectors, dealers, and grading services. For some years “large” and “small” are obvious, but for others years the size of the text is not really different. As a result, sometimes coins are mis-identified, even on NGC or PCGS slabs. Use of the mint name (Shenyang, Shanghai, Shenzhen) may be a better approach. We recommend that collectors carefully examine the date style to be sure it matches a reliable reference. Incorrectly labeled coins should be re-submitted for correct labeling.
The Gold and Silver Panda Buyer’s Guide by Peter Anthony (2010) is the most comprehensive guide to date, and we recommend using this publication as a definitive reference.
Gold Panda Variety Map
|Shanghai Mint||Shenyang Mint||Shenzhen Guobao Mint||Proof||Notes|
|1987||S mark||Y mark||P mark|
||Small Date||P mark|
|1991||Large Date||Small Date
|1992||Large Date||Small Date
|1993||Large Date||Small Date||P mark||no 1oz Proof|
||P mark||no 1oz Proof|
||Small Date||Unique design||only 1oz Proof|
|1996||Small Date||Large Date||Unique design||only 1oz Proof|
|1997||Small Date||Large Date|
|1998||Small Date||Large Date|
|1999||Small Date||Large Date no-serif 1||Large Date Serif 1|
Note: Table covers 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/10, 1/20 ounce coins. Not applicable to the larger size coins