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2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Coin

The second coin in the ongoing “Lunar Skulls” series of coins is now available on pre-order, the 2016 Republic of Palau – $5 Year of the Monkey 1 oz. .999 Silver Coin – it is set to ship mid-February this year. Pre-order yours at First Coin Company – an authorized distributor/dealer of more than 25 mints from around the world.

This young, exciting lunar-themed series of silver coins features a favorite of many collectors: SKULLS – as in skulls of dead animals that form part of the Chinese Lunar calendar (which features 12 animal signs). It kicked off in the latter part of 2014 with the release of the 2015 Ghana – 5 Cedis Year of the Goat 1 oz .999 Silver – the first coin released in the series. It took the market by storm with a fresh, “twisted” and downright badass approach to lunar-themed coins (see image below).

2015 Year of the Goat Skulls Proof Coin

2015 Year of the Goat Skulls Proof Coin – Reverse

2015 Year of the Goat Skulls Proof Coin - Obverse

2015 Year of the Goat Skulls Proof Coin – Obverse

(First Coin in Series)

The latest release, the 2016 Palau – Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls coin (see image below), is just as badass as its predecessor out of the same series. It features the skull of a monkey on its reverse – Are those shades??? The skull boasts some seriously large fangs – the kind of monkey you don’t wish to meet in the flesh! 

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Proof Coin

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Proof Coin – Reverse

Inscriptions on the reverse include: “1oz .999 Silver,” “Lunar Skulls,” “2016” and “Year of the Monkey.” It also include the Han character used to refer to a monkey or ape, namely 猴. The designer’s signature is absent on this year’s issue. Word is out that SM Mint hired a new designer, but it’s unclear who exactly got the job. It is a bit of a bummer, but certainly not a train smash. I suppose no signature leaves room for a cleaner design, although a signature would have been nice. 

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Proof Coin Obverse

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Proof Coin – Obverse

The obverse of this 2016 silver skull themed coin features the inscriptions “REPUBLIC OF PALAU” and “5$” along a Rainbow’s End theme. Palau, which is an island country consisting of 250 islands, is known as ” The Rainbow’s End” – and with good reason. Palau boasts breathtaking scenery, rich biodiversity and fascinating people and places of historic and other interest…–4

Why buy and/or pre-order the 2016 Palau: Lunar Skulls Year of the Monkey coin?

Here are reasons why I am of the opinion that this 2016 Year of the Monkey coin is an absolute must have:

  • Second Coin in Series: This 2016 Year of the Monkey silver coin is the second coin in the young and upcoming “Lunar Skulls” series.
  • Minted by BH Mayer: This 5 generations old mint, based in Germany, is renowned for minting various modern world coins of high quality. Coins produced by them include the Tokelau Lunars, coins in the multi-awarding winning Tiffany Art series and various other modern world coins – too many to list here.  
  • Higher Quality, Original Mint Capsule: Each coin ships in its original mint capsule. The capsules are said to be of a higher quality this time around.
  • Matching Serial Numbers: Each coin and its corresponding certificate of authenticity (CoA) comes with matching serial numbers. A 2 coin set with matching serial numbers, which include both the proof and BU version, are also available.
  • Serial Numbers Edge of Coin: Unlike with the 2015 issue, the serial numbers are now featured on the edge of the coin. This is to provide for a cleaner design.
  • Different Finishes: A proof and uncirculated (BU) version of the coin will be available again, but with slightly different finishes than the last time around. E.g. the BU version will have more of a BU finish this time around – unlike the matte uncirculated finish of the 2015 issue. Word is out that SM Mint intends to keep the current format and finishes for the remaining releases (10 out of 12 remain).
  • Limited Mintage: No more than 500 proof and 2000 BU coins will be minted and distributed worldwide. In my opinion it is just enough not to crowd the market, but also enough to keep the series going. For a series to be successful (assuming all else are constant), it needs to be affordable and accessible to a relatively large number of collectors. Whether the mintages of future issues will be slightly increased in order to accommodate more collectors stand to be seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the case, provided that the series picks up nicely on the back of the low mintage first and second issue coins now available.
  • Brand New Project Management Team: The Son-Montuno Mint (SM Mint), the main distributor and facilitator of these coins, appointed a brand new, more experienced and professional project management team to assist with the 2016 release. They also decided to issue the 2016 skull coins under the legal authority of the Republic of Palau – instead of the legal authority of Ghana – as was the case in the 2015 release. The Palau-BH Mayer combination is said to be a highly efficient, winning combination.
  • Legal Tender: This 2016 monkey coin is legal tender for 5 US Dollars in the Republic of Palau. The USD is used as official currency in this island nation.
  • Silver Content: Each of these solid silver coins contain 1 oz. of .999 fine silver. This provides value beyond the numismatic or collector’s value of the coin.
  • Perfect Gift: This coin makes the perfect gift for any occasion – it will certainly be the talk of the table (if not the town)!
  • Worldwide Demand: This 2016 skull coin and series enjoy worldwide demand, although I am of the opinion that the broader market is still catching up. This provides a great opportunity to get in before these go mainstream.
  • Lunar Coins: Chinese Lunar calendar themed coins are extremely popular. I expect it to be no different here, especially given the uniqueness of coins in the “Lunar Skulls” series.
  • Skull Coins: The subject of skulls seem to fascinate a great number of collectors, including me. Personally I don’t know exactly why, but it might be a Hollywood thing driven by TV shows such as Bones, The Walking Dead and what not. Who knows for sure?

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Uncirculated Version - Obverse

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Uncirculated Version – Obverse

(You’ve got to love those shades!)

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Uncirculated Version - Reverse

2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar Skulls Uncirculated Version – Reverse

Can the positive momentum which earmarked the release of the first coin be revived?

Yes. I am certain it can be revived. A bit of background first…

The first coin in the series was well-received in the market, but the positive momentum seem to have died down. Despite a mintage limit of 500 proof and 2000 uncirculated (BU) coins – the first coin in the series has surprisingly not sold out yet. I do not for a second think it is a result of the coin being bad (or undesirable to any extent of the imagination).

In my opinion a combination of factors might have played a role, including the following:

  • A rapid increase in prices followed the release of the first coin: Were prices pushed up too far too quickly, outside the reach of most budgets? I can see how prices can be an issue to a portion of the market, but it was never intended to be a pure silver bullion play, especially in terms of the collector issue proof version issued. Prices almost tripled since its release. I am of the opinion that these extremely low mintage coins are fairly priced, especially considering the money, time and effort that went into producing these skull coins.
  • Extended delays experienced in terms of the delivery of the final product: The SM Mint was still a brand new outfit in 2014 when the first coin in the series was released. Like most new outfits, they certainly experienced their fair share of grow pains, especially with the project management team hired at the time. However, when all was said and done, the 2015 Year of the Goat Lunar Skulls coin was delivered – despite all the setbacks and delays. Even better though, as mentioned above, they’ve hired a brand new, more professional and more experienced project management team to assist with the 2016 release – so things are looking up! This came on the back of multiple issues experienced with the previous team. 
  • Did the broader market participate in the release of the first coin?: I highly doubt it. I am of the opinion that there are still many collectors out there who are not aware of its existence and of the existence of the series itself. Hopefully that will change soon.

The above leaves a golden opportunity in my opinion – to acquire both these Lunar Skulls coins; the 2015 Year of the Goat, as well as the 2016 Year of the Monkey, before the market catches on. These lunar coins are for lack of a better choice of words: SERIOUSLY BADASS!

Compare these coins to the average and rather boring alternative lunar coins out there – and it should blow your socks off! In my opinion, these coins are the exact opposite of what is wrong with most lunar coins out there. In fact, these coins offer an ideal opportunity to protest against all the half-assed lunar coins out there. Pre-order yours from First Coin Company while stocks last!


Author: K. Paul Sankey    

Zodiac Memento Mori Series

The second release of the Zodiac Memento Mori Series is now available for purchase from SM Mint. There will be three medals available for each of the Zodiac signs: gold, silver, and copper all with limited mintages. The 1/10 oz. gold version of the Pisces is not available for purchase yet due to the delay in shipment of the Aquarius 1/10 oz. medal. SM Mint has made the decision to have new sculpts and dies made after the Aquarius gold proof medals did not come out as expected. This was not due to the quality but the look just wasn’t right, since these are “Art” medals and not bullion it was important to SM Mint to have the design conveyed in the best way possible even on such a small canvas as 1/10 oz. of gold. The first sample originally had a 2D design for the reverse but the decision to make sculpts and new dies for a 3D design was made. This was done at an increased expense to give only the best interpretation of the designs to their customers. Due to these changes ONLY the Aquarius gold will be a proof coin while the rest of the series beginning with Pisces will have a brush satin obverse with a proof reverse finish. I feel these will make the Aquarius gold highly sought after. The silver and copper versions will remain the same. SM Mint stated:

“I hope people understand that this choice to delay is not because it is the easiest or cheapest thing to do, it is a hard decision but the right one and I think people will be very pleased in the end….”

After the delay for SM Mint’s extremely popular first release the 2015 Ghana 5 Cedis Lunar Goat Skull Coins there has been some concern by customers, but with all the Proof orders shipped, BU orders to commence shipping at the end of this week and the Aquarius silver and copper versions in many customers’ hands now most seem satisfied. The quality, look, and relief of the antiqued Aquarius silver and copper art medals were amazing and the feedback from customers on social media sites has been extremely positive. The antique finish gave each medal a unique look and no two medals were alike. We can only hope that the rest of the series continues to offer this type of quality and unique designs.


PISCES: February 19th – March 20th

The word Zodiac literally means animals – It refers to the patterns or configurations of the animals or symbols as seen in the vast sky’s stars at night. Pisces is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation. The animal used to symbolize Pisces is the fish – The symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea (It is the symbol shown at the beginning of the article). “Pisces” is also the Latin word for “Fish” and it is one of the earliest zodiac signs on record.


According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish into which Aphrodite (also considered Venus) and her son Eros (also considered Cupid) transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon. Typhon, the “father of all monsters” had been sent by Gaia to attack the gods, which led Pan to warn the others before changing into a goat-fish and jumping into the Euphrates. A similar myth, one which the fish “Pisces” carry Aphrodite and her son out of danger, is resounded in Manilius’ five volume poetic work Astronomica: “Venus owed her safety to their Shape.” Another myth is that an egg fell into the Euphrates river. It was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky. Due to these myths, the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother.

The Greek myth on the origin of the sign of Pisces has been cited by English astrologer Richard James Morrison as an example of the fables that arose from the original astrological doctrine, and that the “original intent of [it] was afterwards corrupted both by poets and priests.”[Source: Wikipedia – Pisces (Astrology)]


Silver Obverse


Silver Reverse

MEMENTO MORI – Not Death but Life?

The subject matter of these medals revolve around the phrase Memento Mori which is Latin for  “ Remember that you must die”. In the middle ages funerary art became popular. In what are known as memento mori tombs, below the effigies of the deceased pictured as they were in life, there were placed effigies of their naked decaying corpses or skeletons. Such tomb sculpture reflected a contemporary obsession with the coruption of death. There are many translations and “stories” out there and although Memento Mori seems to have carried a grim connotation to it throughout history – Today it is used as a celebration of life, a reminder of ones mortality and the need to live life to it’s fullest. In it’s art the symbolic reminders of mortality is used heavily throughout and the skull or skeleton is often used. Memento Mori has been linked to many religious passages and a considerable amount of memento mori art is associated with the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, including skull-shaped candies and bread loaves adorned with bread “bones.”


Copper Obverse


Copper Reverse


The Pisces is the second medal released of the NEW Skull Coins Zodiac series. There will be 12 medals of each version in the series (36 total) with 3 released  around the time that coincides with the Zodiac cycle. All the art rounds will have three options available – 1/10th oz gold matte version, 1 oz .999 pure antiqued silver, and a 1 oz antiqued copper version. All three art rounds will have the same obverse but a different reverse is used for each version of the art round and all will have numbering that matches the C.O.A – including the copper version. The silver and copper number will be etched on the rim while the gold will be elsewhere on the art round. The silver and copper will each have an antiqued finish that is done by hand for every round. The gold version will be a brushed satin finish with proof reverse (only the Aquarius will be proof).

US based tattoo artist from Kangaroo Paw Tattoo, Kiana Roo, who created the design for the 2015 Lunar Skulls Year of the Goat has been commissioned by SM Mint for the Pisces and the entire Zodiac series.

The introductory pricing will be $62.50 for the silver and $19.95 for the copper medal. The gold is not available at this time. These will all have a maximum mintage as follows: 99 gold, 500 silver, and 2000 copper. Each C.O.A will have all variations of the medals listed on each one with the total mintages – the version purchased will be specified with the matching number.


Gold Reverse Design

Why should you be interested in this coin?

Highly limited

  • 99 – .9999 1/10th gold
  • 500 – .999 1 oz. silver
  • 2000 – 1 oz. copper
  • 2599 TOTAL

Second art round of a popular new series

Unique serial # engraved on coin with matching C.O.A

Antique finish for silver and copper/matted finish for gold

Unique Memento Mori Pisces design

Rimless edge on silver and copper art rounds with number etched on rim


Metal: 1 Troy oz of 99.9% pure silver

             1/10th Troy oz of 99.99% pure gold

             1 Troy oz pure copper

Finish: Antique/Brushed Satin with proof reverse (gold)

Diameter: 39 mm/16.5 mm (gold)

Edge: Rimless/Reeded (gold)

Year of Issue: 2015

Mintage: 99(gold)/500(silver)/2,000(copper)

Be sure to get more information here.

Skull Coins:

UPDATE: New “LUNAR SKULLS” 2015 Ghana Year of the Goat coins make strong debut

Author: K. Paul Sankey 

The 2015 Ghana Year of the Goat 1 oz silver HR coin is part of the new “LUNAR SKULLS” series introduced by Son-Montuno. It was released over the weekend with little to no fanfare on Son-Montuno’s eBay storefront but with an enthusiastic response from coin forums to Facebook it has taken off over the past few day. The design is well received and it has been likened to a cross with Zombucks and the always popular lunar themes. The low mintages and serial numbers etched on the coin itself have been favored features.

Lunar Skulls eBay History

As of the writing of this article no more 2015 Ghana “LUNAR SKULLS” Year of the Goat proof coins are available from Son-Montuno – BU/satin are still available.

These numbers’ only represent San-Montuno’s storefront proof version sales and do not take into account the BU/satin version or the dealers who are offering the proof and BU/satin version. This chart was only utilized to show the increasing demand even while price rose very quickly. One note on the BU/satin coin is that in a 24 hour span on eBay and through First Coin Company 150 of the coins were sold – This pace will only increase once the proof is sold out.

There was an original allocation for 50 of the proof version to be sold at the retail price of $89.00 on Son-Montuno’s eBay storefront, which he honored even with strong demand. The additional 40 reportedly sold for varying prices was stock from dealers who were not interested due to the belief there would be a lack of demand or other reasons. As stated in my previous article Son-Montuno was adamant that the market will dictate how this release and eventually the series will perform and hopes it will be embraced… I thought it was off to a great start then but the market has spoken, and loudly thus far!

Lunar Skulls FCC

First Coin Company was one of the dealers who saw potential in this series and now has these coins for sale.

“LUNAR SKULLS” Year of the Goat Proof click here: $199.90

“LUNAR SKULLS” Year of the Goat BU/satin click here: $69.90   

First Coin Company is also offering the Coupon: MYSKULL5 

It gives 5% off for BU/satin “LUNAR SKULLS” coins with a minimum order of 10. Still free worldwide shipping on all orders. *Will refund duties/taxes if any applies.

Also, there’s still an offer for a 3% discount with the code: THANKYOU

With the 224% increase in eBay sold listings for the proof coin in less than a week I cannot see these lasting that long at this price! All dealers were limited to 10 as reported in my previous article. These have major upside and the way they are being distributed will only drive the premium higher. If you miss the boat on the proof version you may want to seriously consider the BU/satin “LUNAR SKULLS” Year of the Goat coin.

Interesting facts:

✔ World Sensation!

✔ A new twist on the Chinese lunar year theme

✔ Signature of artist Kiana Roo on the coin

✔ 1st Coin of Annual Series

✔ Mintage only 500 (Proof) & 2000 (BU)

✔ Serial number on the coin & COA

✔ High Relief

✔ Silver 1 oz .999

Lunar Skulls FCC 1

New “LUNAR SKULLS” series – 2015 Ghana – 5 Cedis Year of the Goat 1 oz .999 Silver High Relief Coin

Author: K.Paul Sankey

The 2015 Ghana Year of the Goat is the first of a NEW series. It’s a Chinese lunar year coin theme that has been twisted to incorporate a recent popular trend in numismatics – Skulls. The first 1 oz. silver coin is part of the “Lunar Skulls” Series of Coins and was authorized by the Republic of Ghana.

2015 Ghana Year of the Goat

From Son-Montuno eBay store description:

“Son-Montuno is pleased to announce the first coin in our new series, “Lunar Skulls”. Working closely with, US based tattoo artist Kiana Roo from and under strict authority of the Republic of Ghana, SMmint ( brings you a new twist on the classic annual lunar theme.”

Son-Montuno has been exclusively an eBay storefront up till now and has been operating since January 4, 2000. He has built up a clientele based on trust and has almost 6,000 reviews with 100% feedback. Now with the explosion of Lunar series coins the past few years and there relative popularity with the obvious winners like the dragon, snake and even the horse, Son-Montuno saw an opening with the lack of great designs for the upcoming goat/sheep lunar theme. After some research a lunar goat skull felt unique and seemed to be what collectors would want – the 12 coin Lunar Skulls series was born. His vision was brought forth by himself, his partner, and the many other components it takes to sculpt a metallic piece of art. This release is also launching SMmint as a brand: Son-Montuno mint.

This will be the first coin in a very unique and what looks to be a popular series. There will be two versions released: a high relief proof and BU/satin finish both will be 1oz .999 fine silver and will be struck with the same dies. The only alterations that will be made between the two coins will be changes made for the finishes. I was informed that the dies may also be destroyed after the maximum mintages are reached. The mintage of the proof version is limited to 500 coins, which makes it highly limited and sought after, especially considering the unique depiction of the goat skull, which was created by US based tattoo artist Kiana Roo. The BU/satin version is also extremely limited at only 2000 coins. These are offered pre-sale and will ship end of December to Mid – January. Son-Montuno has split the mintage with his partner and will distribute mostly in the US while his partner will distribute mostly in the European and Asian markets. The proofs in the US were allocated mostly to dealers with no more than 10 going to any single one and 50 were allocated to his eBay store at the retail price of $89.00. First Coin Company is one of the dealers that have the BU/satin version available now. You can also buy it directly from Son-Montuno for the retail price of 69.90$ using the link at the end of this article.

*The first 50 pre – sale proofs that were allocated for his store sold out by 8PM on Sunday 11/24/14.

2015 Ghana Year of the Goat 1

These coins will also have a great security feature – each COA number will be etched on the coin matching the paper COA.  This is not a new feature but one that is rarely used and that sets this coin apart.

Son-Montuno was extremely interesting and very refreshing. He was adamant that the market will dictate how this release and eventually the series will perform and hopes it will be embraced – I think it’s off to a great start!

Son-Montuno will be releasing a new series of limited edition bullion rounds in the upcoming weeks also. It will be of a “modern popular style” and will be offered in gold, silver, and either copper or bronze.

Why should you be interested in this coin?

  • Highly limited (2,500 coins maximum/ ONLY 500 PROOF).
  • Three nines fine silver (99.9% pure silver).
  • First coin of a new series w/ unique serial # engraved on coin with matching COA.


  • Country: Ghana
  • Metal: 1 Troy oz. of 99.9% pure silver
  • Finish: Proof/ BU (satin)
  • Diameter: 36.81mm
  • Edge: Milled
  • Denomination: 5 Cedis
  • Year of Issue: 2015
  • Mintage: 500/2,000

Be sure to get more information here:

Son-Montuno’s Storefront –