Following the opening of the 1st China International Coin Expo on 22nd May in Beijing, seven highlights would be unveiled to the attendees and onlookers. Among those attractions, and drawing a large portion of the crowd’s attention, was the 1st China International Coin Expo official commemorative medal. It was at long last revealed to the public on the evening of the opening day. The 1 oz official commemorative silver medal was then put on sale the following day, with the medal’s designer and modern Chinese medal master designer, Mr Zhao Qiang, attending in person to give out signatures. The last of the limited release sales were available on the morning of the 24th.
The event was a true feast for coin enthusiasts, comprising displays, auctions, sales, and exhibits all on offer throughout the event, with the commemorative medal seeming to generate a good degree of excitement as it took centre stage.
The medal’s designer and master of applied arts at the Shanghai Mint, Mr Zhao Qiang, whose portfolio includes the 2014 and 2015 gold and silver Panda coins, had used the contrasting effects of frosted and mirrored finishes, as well as high-relief designs to great artistic effect. The design embodies both the ancient and the modern, the Chinese and the foreign.
The obverse face encapsulates a journey through time of coins from China and abroad. The background features a backdrop of the grand palace door of the Forbidden City. In the foreground is a collage of coins, radiating out from the centre from the old to the new, including examples of spade money, a beautifully simple early Panda coin, a Dragon and Phoenix coin, a Greek piece, and a coin featuring the bust of Sun Yat-Sen to name but a few. Below the design, struck at the bottom of the coin face is the inscription in English: “1st China International Coin Expo”, and above that: “北京 2015／5／22-24” (Beijing 2015/5/22-24). The serial number appears above this.
The design on the reverse face oozes traditional Chinese culture. At the bottom of the coin face is a depiction of a section of the Great Wall, which by the appearance of the architecture probably dates from the Ming Dynasty. Flying above and shown strikingly face-on is an intricate Chinese dragon (note the five toes which distinguish it from the three-toed Japanese dragon). This is surrounded by the usual smoke and flames motif so often seen in dragon images of this kind. Above are the Chinese characters: “第一届中国国际钱币展销会” (1st China International Coin Expo).
Containing 31.104 g of pure silver, with a fineness of 99.9%, this 1 oz silver medal measures 40 mm in diameter and has a mintage of 1000 pieces for distribution. Just like the medals issued for the Macao Expo in 2014, these will also have their own unique laser-engraved serial number. Interestingly, to cater for the superstitions of many Chinese collectors, the number 4 has been replaced by the letter A in all cases (see the obverse image above depicting number “44”) – a move which seems to have won the approval of many in the Chinese numismatic community.
Also in keeping with superstition, the medal bearing the number 88 was put up for auction at a special event conducted at the start of the welcoming banquet. The hammer price was 6000 yuan. Number 66 also fetched an impressive 5200 yuan. However it was number 1 which attracted fierce bidding from both Chinese and European buyers, with a staggering final bid of 23,000 yuan. A total of 20 medals were auctioned over the course of the event, all reportedly selling well at high prices.