Like many other mints, the Royal Mint issues bullion coins in precious metals, having much higher intrinsic value than their face value. The one ounce (1 oz) silver coins are denominated as either two pounds (£2) or five pounds (£5), depending on the occasion.
Initially, these were only of the Britannia type, but in 2015 the Royal Mint started to use the format for coins with other types of reverse designs, celebrating various aspects of British heritage.
The coins are legal tender but are not intended for circulation. They are targeted at bullion investors or collectors who appreciate the special editions as pieces of art.
The 2023 Year of the Rabbit coins are part of the Royal Mint's Shēngxiào Collection - a coin series dedicated to the Chinese Lunar calendar.
The mint says:
"Marking the start of a Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is now celebrated in cities all over the world. Bringing friends and family together in colourful celebration, the festivities are closely linked to the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. The year 2023 is associated with the rabbit - a highly symbolic creature in Chinese folklore and tradition. Cautious and considerate, the rabbit represents humility, elegance and kindness, and many believe that those born under this zodiac sign possess these traits. The tenth release in The Shēngxiào Collection - our series celebrating the lunar calendar - is the Year of the Rabbit 2023 UK Coin, which is available in a range of limited-edition gold and silver Proof editions, as well as a Brilliant Uncirculated edition. Featuring a design by the artist Louie Maryon that captures the rabbit’s characteristic qualities, the result is a beautiful fusion of British and Chinese culture."
The range was released on 8 September 2022, in advance of the Chinese Year of the Rabbit (22 January 2023 to 9 February 2024).