On 28 October, the Chinese central bank will launch their new 2016 gold and silver Panda coins. An interesting detail discovered by @BullionBaron is that these coins will not appear in one troy ounce size. Instead, they will be minted on a metric weight system with sizes varying from 1 gram up to 1 kilogram. The one troy ounce version of the gold and silver Panda coins are replaced with a coin weighing 30 grams. That’s slightly less than a troy ounce, which equals 31,1034768 grams.
The press release on the People’s Bank of China website mentions nine different sizes for the gold Panda and three different versions of the silver coin. All these coins have a 99,9% purity and will be produced with a limited mintage. For more details on mintage and the yuan face value, we refer to the press release on the central bank of China’s website.
Gold coins: 1 gram, 3 gram, 8 gram, 15 gram, 30 gram, 50 gram, 100 gram, 150 gram, 1 kilogram
Silver coins: 30 gram, 150 gram, 1 kilogram
From troy ounce to 30 gram for the gold Panda coin
From troy ounce to 30 gram for the silver Panda coin
The history of the troy ounce goes back to the Roman empire, where bronze bars were casted in a size referred to as ‘troy pound’. One twelfth of this size was called the uncia back then, or ounce in English. That is where the English name troy ounce emerged, a weight defined as 480 grains or 31,1034768 grams. The troy ounce format has been used ever since in the monetary system. It is known to be in use in England since about 1400. The American Congress recognized the troy ounce as a measure of weight in the Coinage Act of 1828.
The term troy ounce is often connected to the city of Troyes as well, once an important trading town located in France.
While our monetary system evolved from gold and silver coins to fiat money, the troy ounce weight survived as a standard weight for precious metals. Gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins are often based on this odd weight of a little over 31,1 grams. Well known investment coins like the Maple Leaf, the American Eagle and Philharmonikers, just to name a few, are all based on troy ounces or a fraction of it.
The history of the troy ounce lies in civilizations and monetary systems in the Western world. That’s why the troy ounce is quite unfamiliar in China. Because the Chinese monetary system didn’t use the troy ounce, it is far from logical to use this standard measure of weight besides the metric system of grams and kilograms.
So it isn’t just a symbolic move by the People’s Bank of China to switch from troy ounce to grams for their investment coins. The shift from troy ounce to the metric system is an ongoing event in China, were they prefer gold bars of 1 kilogram instead of the 400 troy ounce Londen ‘Good Delivery’. Swiss refiners have been melting many of these larger bars into new kilogram bars, destined for the Chinese gold market.