Starting in 2014 The Royal Mint have decided to release a lunar coin. The Perth Mint already have a lunar coin series which is incredibly popular.
The Royal Mint intend this to be the first coin in a series, and will release a different animal of the zodiac calendar each year. The starting animal in the calendar is the Year of the Rat, so it does seem strange that the Royal Mint have chosen to start the series midway through the lunar cycle. The Perth Mint, who are currently midway through their second series, started in 1996 with the year of the rat. The Royal Mint have seen an increased market in China, particularly during the 2012 Olympics, which saw their Chinese sales surpass that of the domestic UK's. In March 2014, reports began to surface that The Royal Mint had made an error during production, and that 'mule' versions of the 2014 Britannias and 2014 Lunar Horses exist. A ‘mule’ is a coin that has been struck using two dies that are not meant to be paired together. In this case, the 2014 Britannia obverse has been paired with the 2014 Lunar Horse reverse, and vice-versa. An estimated 38,000 of the Lunar Horse mules exist – 12.6% of the total mintage. 17,000 of the Britannia mules exist, but as the mintage is unlimited, we expect these to be rarer.
The obverse features the fourth definitive UK coin portrait of Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The reverse engraving was designed by British Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho. Combining both British and Chinese heritage, it shows the Uffington horse which you may recognise as the chalk design that is carved into the Oxfordshire hills.