All of the serial no. 1 coins and medals were consigned by the China Mint, with the earliest being a 1997 Year of the Ox 1 oz. gold coin. The China Mint has been selling serial number 1 coins, including Pandas, the Lunar-Zodiac series and other commemoratives since 2004. However there was no such sale in 2008, so there was great anticipation when the practice was renewed this year.
The star of the sale was the final lot—a 1 kilogram pure gold proof coin commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity serial number 1. (The total issue of 100 pieces—each containing over 32 troy oz. or 2.7 troy pounds of pure gold— had previously sold out.)
This unique rarity carried an estimate of 371,800 Yuan, equivalent to $54,300, but after spirited bidding Peter Yeung emerged as the new owner for $172,000. After the sale, a beaming Mr. Yeung indicated that “serial number 1 coins are so special, only with great luck and effort can one obtain them. Of all the coins I come across, the number 1 coins are the only ones I really collect for myself. My reasoning is that just like in sports, there is only one number 1, everything else is of secondary importance. I do not buy these for the purpose of reselling them, but should that time ever come, I feel that they are priceless.”
Considering that a kilogram of gold currently has a melt value of about $35,200--that means that Mr. Yeung essentially paid $136,800 for a small paper certificate imprinted with the number 1! Fortunately, collectors can obtain a silver coin commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China for under $100--including a serial numbered certificate of authenticity--
Picture of kilo gold coin: http://www.pandaamerica.com/
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Panda America has been the official distributor for the China Mint since 1982. It also distributes coins from other government mints, for the Olympics, etc.